Unraveling the Elvis web (Conductor’s Reflections #8)

If you spend much time looking for Elvis information on the web, you unfortunately run into some tasteless things. This is not unique to Elvis, of course. Pick any topic, and someone has put some garbage out there about it. That’s fine. Some people like viewing that kind of stuff. They find it “humorous” or “fun.”

Rather than dwell on that, I want to focus today on some of the sites that really get it right when it comes to Elvis.

Elvis Today Blog: This blog was the first to cover Elvis with a personal perspective. No one does it better.

Elvis Session Notes: I’ve wanted to highlight this recording data section of Oven Egeland’s excellent Elvis In Norway site for quite some time. It may very well be the Elvis reference I use most often. A page exists for every year that Elvis recorded. On each of those pages, every officially released take or live version of every song recorded that year is listed alphabetically. Recording location, date, and first release are listed for each track. Seemingly updated almost as soon as each new release becomes available, it’s obvious that this site is a true labor of love. I consult it all the time, especially to enter track information on my Elvis songs in iTunes. I don’t know Egeland, but I’d like to say thanks for providing this valuable service to Elvis fans.

Scotty Moore – The Official Website: Learn more about both Scotty Moore and Elvis on this well-researched site. Be sure to check out the “Guitars” and “Venues” sections in particular.

For Elvis CD Collectors Forum: Learn about and discuss anything and everything Elvis-related – and beyond. The wealth of information provided by some participants is astounding. [Update: Of course, like any open forum, garbage can appear on FECC as well. I included it here because the good far outweighs the bad.]

Speaking of time, I am once again running out of it. Believe it or not, I actually have two reviews in progress, one for a book and the other for a CD. Whichever I finish first will be my next post. TCB.

From Blogs To Books/From Books To Movies

Thanks again to Thomas for taking over as guest conductor last week. I decided to just take the whole week off from keeping up with Elvis news and writing the blog. Honestly, what I learned during my week away from The Mystery Train is that I need time off from here more often, despite how much I love it. Taking a few steps back made me realize that sometimes this fun little hobby consumes too much of my life.

Last Train To Memphis: The Movie That Wouldn’t Die

With that being said, I did have a chance to go back and catch up on the news. One of the main stories to hit the Elvis sites last week was talk of a movie version of Last Train To Memphis: The Rise Of Elvis Presley, Peter Guralnick’s definitive early Elvis biography. The book was first released in 1994, seventeen years ago. I believe Hollywood has been trying to turn this into a movie for almost that long.

I can actually remember covering the Last Train To Memphis movie for the fan club newsletter I wrote back in the early to mid 1990s. My last story on the subject was something to the effect of “Unfortunately, plans for a movie version of Last Train To Memphis have been put on hold.”

Over the years, the project has continued to garner a mention out here in web land every now and then. IGN Movies even reviewed a rough draft script for Last Train To Memphis by Jim Uhls (Fight Club) back in 2000. None other than The New York Times listed a now-abandoned Last Train To Memphis incarnation with Mike Newell directing, Leonardo DiCaprio producing, and John Goodman appearing in an unidentified role (perhaps Colonel Tom Parker?). Long-time Elvis friend Jerry Schilling was also attached to the project as co-producer.

Here we are, well over a decade later, and plans for the movie have apparently been put back on the track, with John Fusco set to write a new adaptation for producer Steve Bing (“John Fusco Takes His Shot At Early Elvis” — Deadline Hollywood). Fusco‘s biggest credit to date is 1988’s Young Guns, while a few of Bing’s past productions have been documentaries. He also wrote the Chuck Norris Missing In Action series of movies.

My hope is that Last Train To Memphis: The Rise Of Elvis Presley will not be yet another conventional dramatization of Elvis’ life, but instead a definitive documentary using archival music, footage, and photographs to tell the story. After all, the only person who can really do Elvis justice is Elvis himself. Johnny Depp need not apply.

An ultimate Elvis documentary would fill the void left by the now-dated This Is Elvis and Elvis: The Great Performances. If they do this movie right, there’s a sequel already waiting in the wings in the form of Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley, Guralnick’s somewhat disappointing 1999 follow-up that covered the remainder of Elvis’ life.

Sometimes, initiatives take flight right out of the Projects That Will Never Happen Department, and maybe that will be the case with Last Train To Memphis.

Live like Elvis – at any budget

ElvisBlog was one of several sites to cover one of Elvis’ former homes going on the rental market. The southern California residence that then-newlyweds Elvis and Priscilla used in 1967 can be yours for just $25,000 a month and includes, amazingly enough, “floor-to-ceiling walls throughout.”

If $25,000 a month is too much for you, then perhaps you might want to furnish your own version of Graceland instead by perusing eBay’s local classified advertisements (“Recreate Graceland Forever!” — The eBay Classifieds Blog). The Jungle Room is pretty cool, especially since two of my favorite albums were recorded there, but I think Elvis’ TV Room is more my style.

Judging a blog by its book cover

Finally, be sure to check out the ultra-slick cover to Thomas’ forthcoming book, which compiles his first 271 posts on the Elvis Today blog. It also features one never-before-published article. Hey Thomas, I’m just wondering, who is going to star in the inevitable movie version of the Elvis Today blog?