The Elvis Today Blog (book)
By Thomas Melin
274 pp. Blurb. $9.95
Full Disclosure: I wrote a guest post for the Elvis Today Blog back in 2009, and it appears in this book (p. 224). The last thing I want to do is start reviewing my own material, though, so the following review covers the other 99% of this compilation.
Don’t let the title of this book fool you. The Elvis Today Blog is not a book about an Elvis site. Without a doubt, The Elvis Today Blog is a book about Elvis.
However, it turns out that The Elvis Today Blog is also a book about us – modern Elvis fans.
By relating his personal experiences, author Thomas Melin crafts a unique volume that follows the triumphs and trials of being an Elvis fan in the post-1977 era.
“Sometimes it just hits me how much I love Elvis music and what a great feeling I get from listening to it,” writes Melin in “The Wonder Of Elvis” (p. 56), one of his best entries. “On the highway I put the fourth CD from the Today, Tomorrow & Forever box set in the car stereo and there was ‘See See Rider’ from February 1970 blasting through the speakers. It’s hard to explain what I felt, but I remember thinking ‘Man, I’m gonna listen to Elvis and his music until the very day I die,'” he states.
A major contribution of The Elvis Today Blog is the “Special Moments With FTD” series, Melin’s focus on specific songs released on Sony’s Follow That Dream collectors label for Elvis fans:
- “Love Me Tender,” Dixieland Rocks (1975) – p. 65
- “The Sound Of Your Cry,” The Nashville Marathon (1970) – p. 78
- “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” So High (1967) – p. 92
- “Mexico,” Out In Hollywood (1963) – p. 107
- “It’s Easy For You,” The Jungle Room Sessions (1976) – p. 116
- “Hey Little Girl,” Out In Hollywood (1965) – p. 182
- “I Just Can’t Help Believin’,” One Night In Vegas (1970) – p. 182
- “My Boy,” Dixieland Rocks (1975) – p. 183
- “Young And Beautiful,” Elvis On Tour: The Rehearsals (1972) – p. 238
- “Suspicious Minds,” Memphis Sessions (1969) – p. 265
Most notable of the above entries are those dealing with “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” “It’s Easy For You,” and “Suspicious Minds,” where the author uses powerful descriptions to take you inside the various studios to watch Elvis at work.
Modern Elvis fans aren’t just listening to records and CDs, though. They also enjoy listening to Elvis on their iPods or other portable music devices. “I too like buying and collecting CD’s, reading the liner notes and listening to the tracks on my stereo. But that doesn’t stop me from downloading the music into my iPod and taking it with me whenever I’m traveling somewhere. To me, that’s the real benefit of owning an iPod, that I always have access to the Elvis Presley catalog, wherever I happen to be,” Melin says (“Ku-u-i-pod,” p. 37).
I don’t normally comment on cover design and page layout of books (unless they are awful), but these elements by Staffan Melin, a brother of the author, warrant special mention. The cover is a creative take-off of the 1975 Elvis Today album cover. The interior page layout makes for easy reading, featuring the Deja Vu Serif Condensed font. Kudos to the designer.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the web version of the Elvis Today Blog. In fact, I often find inspiration there, and the Mystery Train Elvis Blog would probably not exist in its present form without the Elvis Today Blog’s influence. It has been a joy rediscovering favorite or forgotten posts as I read them in book format.
Needless to say, I’m hoping that Melin releases additional volumes of his Elvis works. One enhancement suggestion I have for the next volume would be to include an index, to make it easier to find all of the references to certain topics. If that could not be done on a large scale, it seems that at least the Labels feature in use on the web version could be converted into a short index for the book version.
Another way to enhance future volumes would be if Melin included supplemental information that was not part of the original blog posts. Using an example from this book, he mentions meeting drummer DJ Fontana (p. 28), who shared some Elvis stories with him. Maybe one or two of those stories could be noted as bonus content.
Those are just minor suggestions, though. The Elvis Today Blog is not only a great book about Elvis, but an essential examination of contemporary Elvis fandom. Highly recommended.