Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Elvis top books, number nine
Private Elvis by Diego Cortez

The first arty wacko Elvis book, it came out soon enough after his death to retain a breath of originality. The book was launched, in New York, with a real downtown art show — everyone dressed in black, a high ratio of junkies and friends of Brian Eno, maps on the wall seeking to ‘demonstrate’ the supposed topological similarity between Memphis and Stuttgart. 

Even without the surrounding arty hoopla, the pictures alone are striking enough — amateur monochromes of Elvis in the army. Girls hang on his arm expectantly, mouths open with sexual possibilities. These candid, revelatory narratives are given added depth by the knowledge that, at the same time, Elvis had yet another, even more private life. He was courting the 14-year-old daughter of one of his senior officers, the future virgin(ish) bride, Priscilla. By contrast, these greasy snapshots with semi-professional German girls make him seem an almost-normal young man on the prowl. 

For the film of the book — which, more than three decades on, has yet to emerge — Joe Strummer recorded two versions of Heartbreak Hotel, both of them radical and attractive recastings of the original.

Next That one with Elvis kissing an innocent young girl. And the story of the kiss. And the young girl. Who wasn't so innocent after all.

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