Sunday, December 27, 2009

From Elvis, The Colonel & Me: Elvis — A Golden Celebration

for Hardy Price

(excerpt, from The Arizona Republic, December, 1984)

Within five years of his death in August 1977, RCA had released records like Elvis Sings For Children And Grown-Ups Too! (1978); Our Memories of Elvis; Vols. I & II (1979); The Elvis Medley (1982); and, (if in prominent past tense), I Was The One ( 1983). Our Memories stripped away ancient old backing tracks so as to forfeit and/or counterfeit and/or destroy and/or damage/and/derange and/or delete what was left of Our Memories. I Was The One' encircled Elvis' voice with other voices, fresh new voices, anonymous updated voices. The Elvis Medley sliced him into itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny bite-sized beef-a-roni bits, and if Elvis Sings For Children And Grown-Ups! was actively and aggressively bizarre while still achieving the spirit of the relentlessly stupid, it was only bizarre and relentlessly stupid in a tradition, in the tradition of earlier Elvis & The Colonel royalty-collaboration records like "Bossa Nova Baby, " "Petunia, The Gardener's Daughter," and "Do The Clam."

Unsurprisingly, it stank loudly of the same obtuse Country & Western greed that had turned the 14-year-old Hank Williams Junior unloose in a Nashville recording studio only just a few years after his father's unfortunate but entirely lucrative demise, and set him to singing along with his old man's overdubbed publishing ghost. There's never been any indication that RCA, most prominent of the biggest, dumbest, dimmest, least clever record labels in the history of the big ol' dumb record business, didn't intend to keep on doing the Elvis forever and ever. The year or two before and after Elvis died, every rock critic's brown-cardboard promo-carton of RCA records, arriving a couple few times a month, featured fat wads of wee tiny wallet-sized pocket-calendars, sometimes focused on the coming or current year, but not necessarily, not always; there were plenty of mailroom slip-ups, and undoubtedly even more mailroom jokes, featuring a slapped-together photo-collage of the white-suited Las Vegas Elvis as graphic-arted against an X-Acto'ed-in Christmas tree, and then a creepy under-age pink-petticoated sub-Barbie doll with Shirley Temple curls, set off against a shared mono-autograph that said, swear to God, "Merry Christmas from Elvis and The Colonel," with the Colonel himself playing Santa somewhere amidst the entire ham-handed photo-collage proposition. (The Colonel was collecting extra-large management commission from Elvis whilst counter-back-charging RCA for his promotional expertise, presumably by the added-mailing-cost calendar-pound; hence the fact that there were often more of these wallet-calendars in your promo-pak than actual RCA records — RCA was using them, featuring its most prominent artist and Santa and a plastic doll and this or that or some other year's daily calendar, as filler and as package-stuffing styrofoam popcorn and as independent promotion all in one, achieving a cost-tripling trifecta — and everybody already knew that RCA wasn't going to ever actually sell any records anyway, so the guy at the used record store was only gonna give you . . . well, nothing beyond than the bulk doubled-down trade-in rate, because it was on RCA, the amazing hitless wonder label.) There was a time when I could have wallpapered my bathroom with Elvis & The Colonel & The Little Pink Petticoated Creepy Doll-Gal Calendars, though now I inevitably wish I had an extra few to give away. In our joyous holiday season. I'd certainly send one to you. Personalized, from Elvis and The Colonel and me.

The Arizona Republic, December 12, 1984

Aphorism Sixty-One: One of a Series; Collect the Whole Set!

"I know when I'm serious, even if no one else does."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Aphorism Sixty: One of a Series; Collect the Whole Set!

History, whatever it may be, is not helping liars tell their lies.

(from forthcoming work, about . . . well, A Piece Of Work.)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Aphorism Fifty-Nine: One of a Series; Collect the Whole Set!

I don't look for irony. It looks for me.