Literary Quote of the Day: Peter Guralnick
â€œLast Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presleyâ€? (1994) by Peter Guralnick has been called the first great rock â€˜nâ€™ roll biography.
Guralnick, a pre-eminent writer on American music and musicians, provides an even handed and incredibly detailed look at Presleyâ€™s rise in â€œLast Train,â€? which ends in 1958. A companion volume, â€œCareless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presleyâ€? (1999) covers the last 19 years of The Kingâ€™s life.
The following excerpt (with apologies to Cosmoetica for the length) nicely captures Guralnickâ€™s easy style:
â€œIt was a relaxed, confident, and very much at ease Elvis Presley who made his second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, still popularly known as the Toast of the Town, on the evening of Sunday, October 28 . Gone were the explosive nervous energy, the involuntary mannerisms, that had dominated his television appearances of just a few months before; even the self-abashed, somewhat shambling manner of his Sullivan debut had been replaced by a good-natured, almost studied and bemused playfulness, a kind of good-humored recognition of common cause both with his audience and that of his host. When he appeared following Sullivanâ€™s characteristically stiff, almost wooden introduction, his hair high and a pleased, slightly embarrassed look on his face, it was as if for the first time he really took it all as his due â€“ there appeared to be no rage hiding behind the mask, there was no caged tiger desperate to get out, he acknowledged the response with the deferential distraction of the grand seigneur. He was a recording star, he was a movie star, he was a servant of the Lord and the master of his own destiny; for one brief moment there was not even a hint of imposture in his mind.â€?