👑 Beauty Missed, Part 2 ~ Written by Janet Bostic
“Psssst… want to hear a secret?” It matters not who you are or how sophisticated and intelligent, ears automatically perk up at the sound of those words in hushed quiet tones. Being privy to confidential information causes one’s chest to puff slightly, breathing to slow, and not unlike our equine friends, the ears are automatically a little more forward indicating a readiness to intently and purposefully listen.
After reading part 1 (Link HERE), where I briefly discussed one of Presley’s best kept secrets, something totally foreign to even the most ardent Elvis fan base, the feedback received was overwhelmingly positive. My follow up here and in the subsequent posts will continue to whet the appetite of those who share a true and sincere love for the total Presley story – those individuals like myself who have felt shortchanged by being kept in the dark, only having a portion of the puzzle pieces that make up this beautiful love story. We want to know the entire epic tale and these secrets play an important part. Not only do we want to know, we deserve to know and more importantly, the direct descendants from this crucial design concept deserve representation.
Denying our international counterparts their due respect is almost criminal and most certainly disrespectfully dismissive. Elvis’ intense love for ALL of his fans is legion. He would have expected no less that their unselfish adoration have a true and proper place in his love story.
A thousand years from now, the iconic legacy of Elvis Presley will still remain, true and strong, long after any direct contacts exist. His life and his music speaks for itself, standing firm on it’s own timeless merits. These two aspects, remain steadfast. But in addition, there is a third, just as vital and just as important honest pathway and genre particular to Presley. It chronicles his journey while paying a well deserved tribute by those who loved him from afar with a pure sincere love. That crucial third piece is Elvis artwork.
For an artist to match his talents with an emotive urgency and provide an accurate rendering, he provides a labor of love. He is giving of himself. A true artist lays forth his thoughts, his feelings and in the case of Presley, his passion, transforming a stark barren desert canvas into a lush colorful rain forest full of hidden nuances and intricate flowering love gifts. Opulence is in full order, never content with the dull and mundane. His love is too strong for that, his thoughts too intense to simply perform. He must shine to reflect his feelings.
We adore our American son, the one born from humble beginnings, personifying the American spirit. We love his life story, his generosity, his sense of cool, his voice. We cherish his home and his belongings, his concert recordings, his stage wear. We love him, plain and simple. How did we show it? Plain and simple as well. Yes, we bought his records, saw his movies, attended his concerts. But wasn’t that as much a gift to ourselves? What did we gift back to him? How did we as an American fan base demonstrate our love? Where did we miss that perfect golden moment? Other countries time and time again seized an opportunity we sadly missed. Where they gave, we took.
The heartfelt detail was vividly and repeatedly apparent in the loving thoughtful ARTWORK of their album designs while our status seemed to remain an afterthought. For whatever reason, Parker had control over an area in which he had zero creativity and zero ability to gauge public sentiment. Others that could have had a say, including our man Elvis, simply didn’t seem to care. The result was thrown together and slapped with a Presley label, as haphazard albums, concert photos that neither reflected or matched the contents and older photos pasted onto newer soundtracks? Why? The apparent mindset was anything Presley sold so artistic content didn’t matter.
Why did we care so little that we shortchanged the man we love so ardently? We allowed that boat to sail while we stood on the pier. While they looked off into the beautiful horizon, we focused on the plain wooden dock.
The previous Italian contribution was exhibit one, I respectfully give you exhibit two.
Once our enemy, Japan’s surrender terms and it’s people reconciled, resulting in honing their craft and inadvertently providing a responsibility by giving the world many beautiful Elvis albums not found anywhere else. There was no animosity to America by the way in which they demonstrated their love for our boy. Many other countries did the same but few did it better.
In 1957, a young Elvis completed his second movie, “Loving You”, a stunning compilation in colorful contrast to the black and white debut of the 1956 “Love Me Tender”. It opened in America on July 9th and by January 1958 the movie was playing to packed audiences at home and abroad. His theatrical reign was only beginning.
Those familiar with the movie know of the lovely famous musical sequence where Elvis performs “Teddy Bear”. He personified the cuddly love and security a stuffed substitute provides and a resurgence in teddy bears resulted, gifts of teddy bears abounded, and in what was to become known world wide as his “Loving You” outfit, he shined enormously bright vocally and visually. The white silk shirt with the red embroidery and the dark red pants became a beacon of recognition for this film. The Japanese RCA art department took notice and loved this sequence so much that they took a color shot from the scene and placed it on the front cover of their “Loving You“ LP (pictured). They also changed the back cover by adding 3 great black and white photographs not used in any other country anywhere. In addition, Japan removed 3 songs from side 2 of the milder American LP, “True Love”, “I Need You So”, and “Don’t Leave Me Now” and replaced them with “Jailhouse Rock”, ”Treat Me Nice” and “That’s When Your Heartache Begins”. The result was a totally unique Elvis album which Japan released on January 20, 1958.
History shows us that this LP was only sold for a very short period of time before being removed from the market. There was talk of copyright infringement and litigation and being the gracious people they were, Japan removed it from shelves. Having only been available for an extremely short period, this explains why 60 years hence, copies are almost impossible to find today, mint copies being even more scarce, one of the many secrets and hidden gems of International album design.
Compare it to the U.S. “Loving You” counterpart. Our man’s brooding and smoldering looks certainly are appealing but hardly as recognizable for it’s specific location as the Japanese design is. On one, we love his face, but on the other, we instantly recognize his place. This is where careful thought and loving concern comes into play. This is where resulting stories replace a single image. This is where conscious artwork sets the bar far higher than simple facial recognition. This is where love becomes personified.
This is only one of hundreds of love stories and detailed tales sparking an interest and showing an altruistic devotion beyond selling an album. This is the extra mile one travels to reach their true love, the burning deserts crossed without thought to one’s self because the object of one’s affection is paramount. Love is indeed selfless.
I would venture that few “real fans” know this story and even fewer have ever seen this album. Why? Because it is increasingly scarce and extraordinarily rare – and will only become more so. These International stories and other artifacts like it should have a restful respected spot at the residence from where the spark first flew, the Elvis Mecca of Graceland. They are begging to be shared with the world before they are all disappeared into the oblivion and absorption of time. An International exhibit is the simple answer, representing fans near and far. Elvis did not travel the world, but the world definitely travels to Graceland.
Watch for part three forthcoming.
About the Author: Janet Bostic has been a fan of Elvis since the age of 5 (maybe before that!) and has studied his life as long as she can remember. She saw Elvis four times including once in 1976 when she received a scarf and enjoyed a kiss and some conversation with him. Janet has taken 4 trips to Graceland, with her earliest being in 1976 when Elvis lived there. She is visiting Graceland again in the Spring of 2019. Her favorite Elvis song is “Love Coming Down.” She is the mother of triplets and (just like Elvis) her only daughter’s name…is Lisa. Elvis has always been a huge part of her life.