Elvis: Presliad (intro)

Elvis Presley is a supreme figure in American life, one whose presence, no matter how banal or predictable, brooks no real comparisons. He is honored equally by long-haired rock critics, middle-aged women, the City of Memphis (they finally found something to name after him: a highway), and even a president. Beside Elvis, the other heroes of this book seem a little small-time. If they define different versions of Amer­ica, Presley’s career almost has the scope to take America in. The cultural range of his music has expanded to the point where it includes not only the hits of the day, but also patriotic recitals, pure country gospel, and really dirty blues; reviews of his concerts, by usually credible writers, sometimes resemble Biblical accounts of heavenly miracles. Elvis has emerged as a great artist, a great rocker, a great purveyor of shlock, a great heart throb, a great bore, a great symbol of potency, a great ham, a great nice person, and, yes, a great American.

from Greil Marcus’s Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock ‘n’ Roll Music (currently in its Sixth edition)


8 thoughts on “Elvis: Presliad (intro)

  1. One thing for sure, is this guy Marcus, is not a musician. He never writes about it from the inside Whhat a damn shame , he attacks Elvis, attacks Dylan, everyone . What a jackass! and he takes so long with these dragged awful books, he should have said it in a lot shorter time. he should a said it quicker.

  2. Reading this Intro at 5 in the morning, as an event separate from Mystery Train, reminds me of how that entire book has a tempo, rhythm and pulse. I hope this doesn’t push me back to my nth read, but I know it will. Question, does the Folio edition have the updated Notes and Discography from the 2015 edition? Not that it has to, but curious. It’s on my A list.

  3. Alan, flipping through the Folio edition, I don’t see explicit mention of the year for the Notes section, but the book does contain Greil’s 2015 introduction, so I have to assume everything in there is up to date as of 2015. (I’m pretty sure he mentioned in an Ask Greil, or somewhere, that he didn’t provide new — circa 2020 — updates to notes/discographies.)

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