“Now why should I drink from just one well, when I can drink from twen’y”
Recognize this simple silly line from “A Cane and a High Starched Collar?” It’s an incredibly cute party song from the non-musical 1961 western “Flaming Star.” (original title Black Star)
Let’s imagine you are on a luxury cruise ship, huge open buffet, delicious gourmet spread. The surf, the scenery, the warm ocean sea breezes, with a virtual international smorgasbord at your disposal. Are you going to just sit on the deck having a side salad with a lemon wedge?
You’ve disembarked at an exotic port of call, quaint tree lined brick streets, picturesque market square. It’s a perfect afternoon and you are delighted to tour a famous art gallery. Each highlighted piece you see is a wonderful, timeless work of art, a part of history. As you meander the perfectly placed and highlighted masterpieces, soaking in the intrinsic created beauty, there are prominent plaques with a wealth of information about the works’ creators, the name of the painting or sculpture and other pertinent facts. Ignore them and breeze through, quickly look at the art displays and go on about your business. Would you be content with that and no more?
One last stop before heading home, cruise done and over and you’re off the boat back on dry land. Back in the States, a bucket list item is finally yours. A lifelong dream is to visit Graceland and see all there is to see, soaking in the King’s surroundings, walk where he walked. The mansion is all you ever imagined and you head across the street to the museums and exhibits. It’s all there. Stage wear, artifacts, gold records, personal items – look to your hearts’ content. No other information provided, simply the beauty. Now what was that jumpsuit called?
I have hundreds of inherited family photos, mine and in-laws, some as far back as early 1900’s, majority pre WW2, closer to mid-century. Most have no information with them and short sightedly, they were never labeled. I may know a handful of the subjects, but I guarantee my children wouldn’t know any of them. There are no generations prior to me still living that could give insight. Beautiful photos that likely have a rich history are all an unsolvable lost mystery.
There are times a photo suffices, but more often than not, additional detail enhances the beauty of the subject.
There are groups that post a plethora of lovely Elvis photos. Many fans can closely pinpoint the time frame or the circumstances from years of learning about Presley. But for newer fans or more casual Elvis admirers, the deeper information is not presented. Oohing and ahhing is admittedly shallow and acceptable, but for most intelligent insiders, there is a true desire to step beyond. That’s why so many learn to identify where a photo was taken or what stage wear was worn or who the additional subjects in the photo might be. It’s all part of the Presley puzzle that pieces together more than images, attractive as they are. Enjoying the photo is fair enough at times. But details make things interesting.
The same applies to the music. You know that a song is from “Loving You”, but is that it? Often times yes, as with many Presley films, songs were written specifically to fit the film. But that’s not always true.
“Love Me Tender” is an old sentimental ballad originally entitled “Aura Lee” published in 1861. It has a strong civil war connection, a favorite for troops on both sides. Another well known war song, “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” states … “you talk about your Clementine or sing of Aura Lee.”
“I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen” goes back to 1865. “Danny Boy” written by an English songwriter in 1913 has Irish roots of “Londonderry Air.” “One Night With You” was originally “One Night of Sin” and an R&B hit in 1956 for Smiley Lewis, but just a little much for the 1957 Presley image – all small tidbits of info.
In 1976, Elvis had a hit with “Hurt”, but a few others did so before him, including one of his song heroes Roy Hamilton in 1954, Timi Yuro in 1961, Little Anthony and the Imperials in 1964 and Bobby Vinton in 1973. This was information I didn’t know until fairly recently.
There lies the difference between shallowness and depth. If the appetizer, soup, salad, entree and dessert are all there for the offering, and especially with the internet it is, freely partake. Learning is never a bad thing.
Why have only a slice of bread at a feast or glance momentarily at “Starry Night?” It’s the reason the group I co-admin on Facebook (Elvis: A Celebration of the Man and his Music) requires information with submitted photos whenever possible. Anyone can ogle a photograph.
Our Elvis definitely had a bright inquiring mind and a strong thirst for knowledge. He valued knowing more. Tell me I’m not the only one who delights in background information. One well or twen’y is entirely up to you.
Personally, I can’t imagine thinking any other way.