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Customer Review

on June 2, 2010
Music lovers, musicologists, historians, etc.!

I am HONORED to write the first review of this wonderful new book! I guess it had to take this long to get so much right. The Comeback material is oft-told, but no one has yet got it THIS sublime.
Plus, unbelievably, after so many years, the method of the ending {brilliant - and so very, very sad} will leave any interested reader, {including the younger people who were more affected in the aftermath of his tragic, abbreviated demise}, actually stunned and maybe even "shocked." Seems impossible? Well, read it for yourself: and this is one, and a rare one, that you really should read IN ORDER to come to the very end. This book also utterly shatters absurd myths about that White House adventure as the comeback was closing. If some fans are don't like what they read, well, others will finally cheer the truth. Paul McCartney, so rattled recently by what he thinks happened there, MUST get a copy! Must know the truth about the performer who inspired him and his pals, but was so very bummed out in that '65 publicity stunt "meeting." Elvis was ashamed of his recent "career," such as it was at the time: he didn't know how to react, and didn't know if he even had a future. He had no beef with them: he just thought that the prez and V.P. actually talked about the same things . . . Oops. Nixon hadn't even heard of 'em. {!} Look on the Internet and you'll see a speech "agnew" - Elvis's writing of his name, gave in late '70, in LAS VEGAS! And "Bud"'s confusion would be cleared up. Oh, and Dr. Strangelove! That was his "study" of these matters. His REAL studies were more spiritual in nature.
I hope Gaar gets him a copy. He and Ringo Starr will, I would hope, understand what happened in Dec. 1970 and why. And how, CLEARLY, John Finlator, still miffed, deliberately mislead Jack Anderson, and I wouldn't then trust his *own* notes. He was angry - he'd just turned down a bribe: Bud Krogh now realizes he'd been "had." You could call it "brilliant": but, ultimately, it did turn out to be self-destructive, and worse, shows how Elvis had just begun to betray not others so much as himself, and his *own* ideals. Perhaps he'd lost them by the end of that terrifying year - a year in which he still hoped to tour the world and face more challenges. He never would. It's complicated, and practically asks those who wish to, to do their OWN research in going further with that episode. It was not "a joke": it was an increasingly desperate young man getting more desperate, and beginning to lose the self he had so recently found. But the world happens at the same time as people's lives, and Gaar seems to see this clearly.

She knows the "sincere" Elvis is the one we hear on recordings, and on audio-visual recordings, and he began to drift into isolation, fear, despondency, and in beginning to lose what he fought so very, very hard and successfully to win, perhaps a loss of faith in himself and hope for the world.

It's that tragic at the end, but that's *not* why you can actually cry. I'm serious, though it's been so long. You cry because she shows you how much he triumphed! How hard he worked, how he sang the vinyl versions of "If I Can Dream" - from the studio, with the studio lights darkenened, in a fetal position, screaming his questions, and wanting his answers: RIGHT NOW! These were HIS concerns: he once asked a Lt. Taylor in the service: "why do people put other people down?" Taylor had no answer for him. As a child, he asked "can't they see I'm just like them?" In 1968, he very earnestly {her word: "earnest" - and she's right} asked "If *I* can dream of a better land . . . then why can't my dream come true?"
But she goes further: she describes, in excrutiatingly beautiful detail, the performance of "If I Can Dream" sung live for the show itself, and captures it all. And then . . . well, I won't spoil it. Just read the book from cover to cover, and read "naturally." The performance of this song exceeds descriptions like "sublime." Especially for those hunting for the real guy who later seemed to lose the hope he gave US ALL that night: including those not yet a gleam in their Daddy's eyes. And the hope HE felt. That's why a too detailed look at the "controversy" regarding his decline and death is unnecessary, no matter what. We know, we know. No more fussing back and forth. Lisa knows. It's water under the bridge.

And she is able to show us that EVEN SO, the triumph was, and will always be a triumph for the ages. THIS Elvis is the forgotten one. The young man who struggled against the odds of his tragically impoverished upbrininging before being becoming engulfed in fame, then overwhelming loss, and then being humiliated, deeply hurt, and shamed by Hollywood . . . HE STILL HAD HOPE! And he didn't keep it to himself: he shared it with us all, "earnest"ly, as she so well puts it. She trusts this artist, not his whiz-bang tales, too soon after, of derring-do. Even THAT, as much as Bud Krogh, in a FRESH interview, feels "taken in," she sees as a kind of triumph of the spirit. He would not be denied. Not yet. He would not be put down. By ANYONE. True, the name-dropping was not particularly noble, but maybe he DID get through to that president in a positive way. In his own way. He refused their "suggestions": he got what he came to get, and left them with a message of love for those who did not love the likes of them - as their only solution. He couldn't do this for them: they would have to figure it out for themselves, eventually.

That this young man from "no man's land" could actually pull it off, even if "Bud" is a little miffed - mostly with his younger self, is astonishing. His come-back gave him the ear of the most powerful man on earth, and he rejected HIS suggestions, but if Nixon ever did really read that letter - and we'll never know, Elvis dispensed some simple Biblical wisdom: if "they" consider *you* their "enemy," then you must LOVE them. In 1970, that was a tall order, but Elvis presented it. Simple as that. Elvis always loved this lyric most of all, in speaking: "understanding solves all problems." Maybe he DID "want to help the country out," after all. Just not quite how they originally thought. So even that could be counted a kind of "triumph" - of intention. In it's own way.

Moreover, she makes the pounding point that he already did. Hope is as fragile as it is powerful. And her book is about hope. THIS is the young man who should be on a U.S. postage stamp: the young man in the white suit, with just the little red scarf {a hint of the bloodstains of 1968 that had just happened: even as the shows creators, including Elvis, watched it happen - again, right in front of their eyes.} Yes, 1970 was perhaps even more oppressive in so many ways, and perhaps Elvis felt forced into a corner. But all in all, he triumphed. He still had HOPE.
Only when he lost that, was the end merely a roll of the dice that would come soon. And so we know what we lost.
It is a story of courage and caring - deep, profound caring, and a story that really hasn't been properly told in this form yet. He showed us ALL that WE can "come back" from so much. He was born with all odds stacked against him: he was lucky to live at all as a new infant. And despite all the difficulties with which society kept hitting him, he found the strength to "come back." To maintain hope. To BE that "beckoning candle" in the darkness of a cold winter. And if this young man could overcome attack, indignity, profound personal loss, the loss of people he admired so much even in 1968, so can we. In fact, maybe we can do even better: not lose hope nor our dreams.
We are not yet in that "better land" but as long as we can still dream and have hope, we shall get there.
18 helpful votes
19 helpful votes
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