The magnitude, scope and breathtaking beauty of the cover art that exists at the top end of Elvis Presley records is something that only has a beginning. There is no end. Look closely at these photos. They represent countries from every corner of the planet: Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, South Africa, and many other countries. Each foreign land with legions of fans loyal and true to Presley, only separated by geography.
The art departments in each and every one of these countries labored long and hard to create individual covers for Elvis. Granted, some simply followed the American themes, but so many chose a different path and in so doing created hundreds of amazing artistic endeavors and stories still yet to be seen and told at Graceland, or anywhere else for that matter.
Let’s get one thing straight right from the outset. It’s no secret amongst the top Elvis collectors around the world that those who continue to criticize Elvis Presley know little or nothing about the rarest and most sought after top end Elvis cover artwork. They take cheap shots with inflated egos while continuously strutting around base camp. The Everest summit of Elvis Presley’s finest offerings is a world they do not understand and continue to ignore. Why?
The reason is simple. They have never seen these works of art, never held them, never owned them, never taken the time to research and study and understand their beauty, let alone listen to the truly incredible stories attached to them. It’s a classic ploy. Ignore that which you do not understand. Base camp is a much easier and safer world in which to maneuver. It’s easier to be the big fish in the small pond.
So they continue to refuse to acknowledge the existence of thousands of beautiful Elvis covers that personify art work that will never die. Art is timeless. Same as neglecting his International fans, out of sight, out of mind. This is something that from all accounts, our man Presley never did, never ignoring or disrespecting those that were honest and loyal and faithful.
These are the very same ones that continue to tell other Elvis fans that he’s nothing more than a figure in history and following him means you are stuck in the past and in some form of time warp. They usually then babble on about how things must change and “evolve” saying that “Elvis is no different”. I disagree, as is my right, and the opinion of many others who understand deeper beyond orange label soundtrack covers and a shot of Elvis straddling a highway.
All these muppets have one thing in common. They have no understanding of the magnitude and nature of the hundreds of Elvis records and stories rising from the top end of town. You will notice that none of them ever refer to the amazing catalogue of Elvis recordings from Japan. There is no concept and no interest. Instead they continue to preach to those silly enough to listen saying that Elvis can never stand on his own again and that he needs the help of Justin Timberlake, Dolly Parton and Kiss. There is no error in eluding to those those discovered the Presley showmanship and based their own successes on him. I don’t recall Elvis belittling other performers, but neither was it ever necessary for him to share the stage. It involves balance, Elvis front and center not relegated to a side stage, relevance to his story and not overshadowing it, and a respect to one who lived by the code of mutual respect. Balance, relevance, respect – so simple.
Most have no concept of the fact that you could begin one week showcasing these amazing works of art and the stories attached to them and still be showing these offerings a thousand years from now, all while not needing anyone else other than the King. Elvis is entirely capable of doing it all on his own and yet people who have never seen these items continue to tell you that things must evolve.
Yes, evolution is necessary to a degree but honestly the only figure that evolves is Elvis himself, along with thousands of items and stories yet to be told. One idea was “if you have a suggestion, then let EPE know, as the back seat drivers are becoming a nuisance“.
Really? I don’t see it at this point.
Let’s examine that idiotic statement. As it turns out a representative of EPE has been approached with a complete plan of how to make millions of dollars for the enterprise. The entire concept was laid out and costed accordingly. It is an absolute no brainer financially. It wasn’t about whether EPE would make any money, it was solely about how much. By the way, I am more than happy to show this concept to anyone interested. There is a fortune to be made and this was clearly and concisely laid out. The response? Polite and cordial silence. Crickets. There is no need to further suggest that illustration saying that if there is have a suggestion that’s worth hearing to let them know. Done.
Therein lies the problem. Those running the asylum continue down a dangerous commercial path. Harsh words I know. But try telling that to the person who shrugs their shoulders and simply says
“Don’t worry, they must be doing something right” – rubbish.
Every commercial wheel is round. If you continue to walk a dangerous business path, even one that may appear fruitful at the outset, should understand eventually Maxwell’s silver hammer will come down on an empty head. Suggesting that this will not eventually happen is like saying the young will never listen to Elvis Presley – again rubbish.
The teenager today is the 45 year old of tomorrow online and desperately trying to buy a Japanese Elvis 10 inch record – the very same records that some foolishly criticized years before. As the world wide craze for vinyl explodes, personifying basic economics of dwindling limited supply and increasing high demand, so will the desire to collect his rarest offerings, along with the art and the accompanying stories so absurdly rejected now. If you think I’m passionate about this subject, you’re right.
The fact remains that this great man has come to symbolize specific qualities of human endeavor which transcend his short period on earth and which will touch something constant in the public’s memory for generations to come.
Staying at base camp is safer, just as it was likely safer had Elvis stayed in his fortress on the hill rather than coming down to the gates to meet and mingle and appreciate and respect those that he knew put him there. He clearly understood.
Change and evolvement may be inevitable in many instances, personally and commercially. Yes, EPE needs to make money to sustain itself. Progress, moving forward in a positive manner cannot be denied. It is only when the sun and shadows block the pertinent sign posts and wrong directions are taken that one becomes lost, all while thinking they are making great progress.
Balance, respect, relevance – finding a recipe with these key ingredients is what will preserve, promote, and procure a future for EPE and Graceland. Just as one does not visit the Vatican City to see the artwork of Michelangelo at the Sistine Chapel and wind up at a display of Trisha Yearwood’s guitar because she respected and admired the artist’s work, neither should Prince’s jacket or Gene Simmons’ Kiss boots or Mohammed Ali’s robe become a major Graceland focus.
I’ve said this before and will repeat it : 1)Elvis the man and the legacy, 2)Elvis the music and the movies, and 3)Elvis art – the three necessary facets of Elvis Aaron Presley. He has no need to change. He only needs to remain true to the initial qualities so many of us see, feel and understand to our core. That is what draws people to him. As far as the business aspect, Elvis makes money. He needs no one else. He may have liked, enjoyed and respected many other artists, but he never needed them then and he doesn’t now.
Which do you think Elvis would want? Which would bring him the greater joy? Which gives back appropriately to those that gave so lovingly to him?
A circus is fine but not remotely appropriate within the walls of the Sistine Chapel. It will always be a matter of respect, relevance and balance, plain and simple.
Elvis left the stage & left the building. He didn’t tease with repeated encores or find it necessary to play silly games just to hear additional applause and boost his ego. Elvis graced the main stage, played it alone, and did so with excellence. He still, almost 43 years hence, richly deserves his spot there. How sad that many don’t believe that.
For those that find joy in arguing about degrees of fandom or what makes a “true” fans or feel such great importance in snobbishly imparting their self imposed expertise on every street corner, keep in mind why we are here and what Elvis stood for, what drew us individually and collectively to him then, what still draws us today and what will continue to do so in the future.
Elvis Presley, the greatest entertainer to ever live, was never an afterthought and never will be. He earned front and center and it is his rightful place, standing alone, head held high, always.