👑 NOT A SHOT WAS FIRED ~ written by Janet Bostic

 

I was recently in New York City. There the battle is over. There the war has been won. No bullets were fired. Allow me to explain.

Way back in the seventies and eighties, New Yorkers and most Americans in general, laughed at the notion of the car industry in the states being overtaken by any other country. It was “made in the good ol’ USA,” American iron all the way. I remember an associate of my father’s, who in the late 70’s took to driving a Honda. A Honda? He was made fun of and people couldn’t believe he was driving that tiny boxy lawnmower motor automobile. What has become so common now was so incredibly odd then. 

Once upon a time, the busy streets of New York were overflowing, a virtual sea of Yellow Cabs, all made in America – not any longer. Today there are hardly any left. Get a cab or book an Uber on your mobile and only a couple of countries will answer the call. The streets are full of Toyota Land Cruisers, Pathfinders, Rav 4’s, Prados, Klugers, Pajeros, Navaras, Hyundais, Hondas, and a mind boggling array of vehicles from Japan and China. Why is that?

I sought the answer from every Uber and Lyft driver that drove my sons and I around New York. The answer was always the same. The Japanese and Chinese vehicles were better designed, more comfortable, had superior technology, were more reliable, and had better fuel economy along with much lower servicing and running costs. So the list went on and on, making perfect sense. If you were running a fleet of Ubers, the financial savings over the course of a fiscal year were staggering. Decades back the American car industry continued to ignore the vast improvements in technology being made by the Japanese car industry. Americans laughed at the challenge. No one is laughing now.

There’s an Elvis analogy to be made here. Elvis is no different. You see, Japan loved Elvis with a passion. From 1955 on they poured their heart and soul into every record and cover they released of him. In so doing, they left us with an immeasurable and beautiful artistic legacy defined by a quality and uniqueness not found in any other Elvis loving country. They employed a timeless beauty that made the churned out bland American covers look very ordinary by comparison. Along the way they scored with a staggering number of firsts that rightfully should have belonged to America, but sadly didn’t.

Japan issued 21 Elvis 78’s between April 20, 1956 and October 20, 1958.  No other country comes close to issuing that many Elvis 78’s in the fifties. Look closely at them in the photo I have displayed. Their beautiful grey and pink labels make them highly sought after by Elvis collectors world wide, especially in unplayed condition as shown here. They were also the first country to market Elvis 78’s with picture covers, starting in 1956. The Japanese also issued special inserts for their Elvis 78’s. The green insert shown at the bottom of the photo is for their first Elvis 78. Stop for a moment and look at some of those picture covers in the photo. The beautiful covers and unique designs show how far Japan was prepared to go in overtly demonstrating their love and devotion for Presley. America should hang it’s head in shame when comparing their meager efforts to Japan. Not that we didn’t love Elvis tenderly, we most certainly did and we still do. But there was no adoring artistic display because we saw no need. Elvis would sell and so it was business as usual, per the Colonel and RCA. 

See the 3 Box sets entitled ”The Best Of Elvis”(SAP-3001) which were released on June 25, 1963? This totally unique box set is the rarest and most collectable Elvis box set in the world. I gaze at it and I find myself wondering where that lovely watch that Elvis is wearing is now? Does anyone know? 

My point is this. When a country’s front cover and back cover artwork on Elvis is born out of admiration and a genuine passion instead of simple greed and commercial gain, the end results feature timeless works of art that are both beautiful and unique. And there are fascinating stories behind each one begging to be told. It then becomes clear the passage of time can never diminish the magnitude of Japan’s contribution to Elvis Presley. Japan is simply one of hundreds. Globally country after country followed this lead, seemingly yet unknowingly competing to showcase their true feelings. 

Decades ago the American car industry failed to see the forest because there was a tree in their line of vision. EPE appears to be doing much the same. An International Elvis exhibition at Graceland should be a mandatory inclusion so fans everywhere can experience and enjoy the universal love other countries felt for him, as they freely expressed through their beautiful, unique, and creative records and covers. 

There is the definite means to make such an exhibit happen through the generosity of some of the top world wide collectors, those who had the forethought to gather these rarities along the way. Isn’t it time? Shouldn’t it happen? Isn’t an International exhibition such as this something Elvis fans would love to experience while at Graceland – interesting, respectful, but most importantly – relevant?

 

 

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