The Elvis Today Blog Volume 2 author talks to The Mystery Train
Last month, Thomas Melin released a new book, The Elvis Today Blog: Volume 2. Available from Blurb, the paperback compiles 230 more Elvis Today Blog posts. It also features a foreword by Michael Jarrett, writer of “I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day” and “I’m Leavin’”, as well as a previously unreleased interview with DJ Fontana, Elvis’ first drummer. Melin recently took the time to chat about Elvis and the 328-page volume.
“Since the first time I heard Elvis, when I was nine or ten years old, I’ve been a fan,” said Melin. “I became really dedicated a short while later when I borrowed a bunch of Elvis albums from a classmate.” The titles included Elvis In Concert, A Canadian Tribute, and C’mon Everybody.
Melin, who lives in Sweden and is now 45, notes that it has always been Elvis’ music and variety of singing styles that have drawn him in. “Being a fan for me also means trying to learn more about the man that was Elvis Presley by listening to alternate takes, reading books, talking to his musicians, and watching documentaries,” he said.
He began blogging about Elvis on August 16, 2007. Five years worth of posts later, he is not sure if it has changed his perspective on the singer, but feels that it has enriched his life as a fan. “I’ve been able to share my ‘Elvis experiences’ with other fans,” Melin said, pointing out that the blog has helped him get to know other Elvis fans around the world.
The Elvis Today Blog: Volume 2 picks up right where the first volume ended. It collects all of the posts from January 8, 2010, through August 16, 2012. “I think it’s nice to have them all in one place, so to speak, and to be able to leaf through the pages and read a bit more thorough when something catches your eye,” said Melin.
“The kind of posts I’ve always loved to write the most has been [...] ‘Special Moments With FTD,’ where I, with the help of an alternate take, some studio banter, information in books, and last, but not least, some imagination, try to describe what was going on in the studio or on stage when the recording equipment caught Elvis in his line of work. In my second book, the one that I’m the most satisfied with is the ‘Special Moments With FTD 11′ post, describing the recording of the song ‘Guitar Man’ on September 10, 1967,” he said. The post was inspired by the 2011 FTD release Elvis Sings Guitar Man.
As mentioned, one of the special bonuses this time around is a foreword by Michael Jarrett. “It all started in December 2008 when I wrote about one of the biggest daily newspapers in Sweden ranking Elvis’ ‘I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day’ as the second best Christmas song ever,” he said. Jarrett subsequently got in touch to thank him for mentioning his song.
“From there on we have stayed in contact, and I’m honored to have Michael Jarrett among my readers, which obviously means a lot. When I asked him if he would write the foreword and he accepted, I was thrilled,” he said.
The other special bonus, of course, is Melin’s interview with drummer DJ Fontana. In April 2006, Fontana was touring Sweden as part of a Swedish group called The Cadillac Band. At that time, Melin was working as a reporter at a radio station, where he also produced a one-hour program about Elvis’ religious music. He says he “begged” his news editor to let him interview the drummer when The Cadillac Band came to town. Melin said, “I found DJ Fontana very friendly, and he seemed to enjoy talking about his time with Elvis.”
Blurb specializes in self-publishing and provided the platform for both books based on Elvis Today Blog. “What you need is a PDF version of the book to upload on Blurb, and I’m lucky to have a brother who is very, very good when it comes to design and page layout,” he said. He explains that Staffan Melin used the Adobe Suite (Illustrator, Photoshop and Indesign) on the first volume, but decided to try open source software (Scribus, Inkscape and GIMP) on the latest volume.
“This book is actually part of [Staffan's] master’s thesis in media technology, where he examines if free software can be used for book and magazine production. Obviously, it can,” said Melin.
Elvis Today Blog celebrated its 500th post on August 16, 2012, which was also the cutoff date for the new book. Since that time, Melin has been in semi-retirement from blogging. “When I decided to take an indefinite break from blogging, it was because so much was going on in my life, mainly due to my two-year-old daughter. I just didn’t have the time or energy to write about Elvis anymore. I still don’t,” he explained.
“I still listen to Elvis all the time, and my daughter seems to like his music, too, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss blogging at times. That’s why I’ve written one or two posts since ‘retiring,’ and I guess it will continue that way,” Melin said.
“For now, I’m satisfied with my 500 posts and two books. Every time I look at them sitting in the shelf I feel a bit proud, thinking in my own small way, I’ve done something to keep Elvis’ memory alive,” he said. “It’s been a fun ride!”