John Lennon said that before Elvis, there was nothing. He also said that without Elvis Presley, The Beatles would never have come to be. As a matter of fact, there is mention of Elvis Presley in every single book I’ve read about the Beatles – and I’ve read quite a few.
Naturally I know who Elvis is… King of Rock n’ Roll, lots of big hits, white jumpsuits, Las Vegas, a handful of mediocre movies, etc, etc, but I wanted to know more, to truly understand. And it wasn’t just The Beatles, it was Jim Morrison, Led Zeppelin, Mick Jagger, Don Henley, Jackie Wilson and a virtually endless list of other rock greats that attributed some degree of honor and greatness to Elvis. I needed to learn more, so off to the bookstore I went.
I liked the cover (see above), and knew nothing more about the book before buying it. Little did I know that it would be one of those reads where every few chapters I was turning to other resources to cross reference the things I was learning. As far as books go, I think I struck gold with this one. This is a must read for anyone who really wants to learn about the who, what, where, why and how of Elvis Presley’s meteoric “comeback” from what many believed was inevitable obscurity.
Admittedly, I’m pretty much a noob when it comes to knowing even a fraction of the whole Elvis story, but Gillian G. Gaar’s Return Of The King: Elvis Presley’s Great Comeback opened my eyes, while never once losing my attention. I read a few other reviews before sitting down and attempting to tackle my own, and most gave it the rave reviews that I would have to agree with, but it was the one that didn’t rave which helped me to put my own review into perspective.
The blog “Book Soup” had this to say in it’s review. “Elvis Presley = sadness. It is truly the most depressing story of an icon music legend.”
Okay, so I wasn’t smiling at the end of the last chapter when he died, and yeah the dude did make some pretty huge mistakes, but what I got out of this was the story of a man who also had joy in his life. Just watch Elvis perform in the 68 “Comeback Special”, and see him shine. You just don’t shine like that if there isn’t happiness in what you are doing. Gaar’s book is fascinating, phenomenally well researched, and beckoned the reader to look – to really look – at Elvis Presley. It called to me, saying “Go to YouTube and check out this clip we’re talking about”, or “Go listen to this song right now… then you’ll understand”. I followed the author’s subliminal suggestions… I listened, and I looked, and I definitely understand.
Great book. Expect more blog posts about Elvis. 🙂