Hi, everyone. Here’s a snippet from the first draft of “Cajun Country Christmas,” one of the stories in It Happened in Memphis and Other Stories. Enjoy!
Laurie came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on a borrowed apron, just as the front door opened again.
“Lord have mercy, a Christmas angel! Ain’t I the lucky one!” The man who walked in was tall, with wavy brown hair, grey-green eyes, and a smile that promised mischief.
“Riley Boudreaux, wipe your feet before you walk any further into this house,” Pauline called. “And don’t you be pestering Miss Laurie; she’s a guest here for the first time and we don’t want to scare her off.”
Far from being scared off, Laurie stared at Amos’ next-older brother like he was the second coming of Jesus. She couldn’t remember when she’d seen a more handsome man. A little thicker-set than his brother, Riley Boudreaux also had a dimple in one cheek. He also clearly knew how to turn on the charm.
Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the second half of what most people consider the definitive Elvis Presley biography (you will find my review of the first half under Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley). Unlike the first volume, which deals with the unprecedented rise of a shy but optimistic young man from Tupelo, this volume shows us the excesses and pain that came with fame.
The thing that is hinted at in this book but never outright stated is that Presley had no idea how to deal with the sudden, hard-hitting fame he achieved … because no one had ever seen anything like it before. Going from a shy, stammering kid who only wanted to earn enough money to buy his parents their own house to a paranoid recluse who never knew who his real friends were is a painful journey.
In this volume, we see Elvis getting home from his two-year hitch in the Army and going back to making movies. We also get a look inside his peculiar courtship with Priscilla Beaulieu … and the girls he had on the side. Not too surprisingly, women threw themselves at Presley … and often times he caught them We also see the Svengali-like hold that Colonel Tom Parker had on Presley, with both Elvis and his father Vernon believing that Parker would always do right by them. Even at Presley’s funeral, Parker was wheeling and dealing in ways that were best for *him,* until a probate court intervened on behalf of Lisa Marie two years after Elvis’ passing.
But I digress.
Guralnick shows us the physicians, girlfriends (and their pushy mamas who saw dollar signs in the air), and other hangers-on who were eagerly surrounding Presley with their hands out … and Elvis doling out the goodies because he was afraid to be alone. His belief that if a doctor gave you a medication it must be okay led to health problems from prolonged use of opiates, and a never-ending parade of uppers and downers in order to be awake or asleep as necessary. One physician began to slip placebos into the mix to try to wean Elvis from the various prescriptions, but it was actually too late by that time.
I said in one of my updates that I had reached a point where I wanted to slap everyone who was around Elvis Presley during the last couple of years of his life. What happened to one of the most amazing talents of our time was an entirely avoidable tragedy, and the greedy people around him didn’t care as long as the gravy train kept running.
This two-book set is a must-read for fans of Elvis Presley and roots rock in general. Be advised, though, that it is not for the faint of heart.
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Today, I thought I would share one of my favorite pianists with you. This is Jonny May, playing his arrangement of Tom Petty’s “Free Falling” on a Blüthner Crystal grand piano.