Elvis : A Cultural Obsession Essay

4353 words - 17 pages


“Some people tap their feet, some people snap their fingers, and some
people sway back and forth. I just sorta do ’em all together, I guess”
(www.elvis.com). When one thinks of Elvis Presley, one immediately
visualizes a tall, handsome man swiveling his hips and crooning love
melodies while curling his lip in a way that made the men want to be him
and the women want to be with him. Elvis Presley was literally an
overnight phenomenon. As soon as he let loose and sang his first hit
“That’s All Right”, every American listening on the radio that night wanted
to hear more. Presley certainly went ‘from rags to riches’ in a matter of
years. Elvis was born to Vernon and Gladys Presley on January 8, 1935 in
East Tupelo, Mississippi. Living in a one-room shack, Vernon and Gladys
strived to create a perfect environment for Elvis, for he grew up
surrounded with the poverty his neighborhood struggled to deal with. Elvis
was constantly surrounded by music, picking it up from everywhere, from
dancing with his mother, to listening to the radio, to experiencing his
neighborhood rhythms; Elvis was engrossed in the harmonies, which
would later be the foundations for many of his hit songs.

In reading two biographies on Elvis, I found them both to be unique. The
first book I chose to read was Elvis by Albert Goldman. The second book,
Elvis Presley, was by Bobbie Anne Mason. When I first began to read the
biographies, I had an opposite reaction to each of the books. Before, I had
felt that the first book portrayed Elvis in a much more dignified and
organized manner than the second book. In reading more, I find that I
have changed my mind. I feel that the second biography was written in a
way that was extremely colorful and artistic and that instantly attracted me
as the reader and made me regard Elvis in a different perspective. In
reading the first biography, I have a clear picture of Elvis’ life, yet it
portrays a factual and lifeless image. There seems to be so much detail that the
reader is often confused as to the true character of Elvis. There is a
twenty-two year difference in the two biographies, one written shortly after
Elvis’ death in 1981 and the other written in 2003. In saying this, I feel
that the second biography is necessary because of the creativity and the
comprehensible manner in which the author writes; and it is an excellent
portrayal of a man who influenced so many in such a short time.

In Goldman’s book, written in 1981, Goldman uses complex and difficult
words in trying to portray Elvis. At times, I felt that Goldman’s writing was difficult to understand because I was so wrapped up in the meanings of the words that I missed out on the essence of the idea. One example of Goldman’s complicated wording is evident when the author describes moments in Elvis’ life, “Elvis displayed an attitude compounded of magnanimity and exhibitionism at his private screenings” (Goldman...

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