“Elvis — Word for Word” Excerpts

About Singing Lessons:

I've never had a singing lesson in my life. No music lesson of any kind, in fact. I just started singing when I was a little kid, like I told you, and I've been doing it ever since. I was 11 years old when I went in front of a real audience for the first time. It was at a fairground in the town I was born, Tupelo, Mississippi. I was shaking like a leaf, but I'd set my heart on singing, and nothing in this world could have stopped me from going ahead and entering the talent contest at the fair. I did it all on my own, and I didn't have any idea what I was going to do once I got out there in front of all those people. All I had in my head was the idea that I was going to sing.

About His Electrician Training:

I give it up completely. In fact, During the time I was workin' for the [Crown] electric company, I was in doubts whether I would ever make it or not, because, you have to keep your mind right on what you're doin', and you can't be the least bit absent minded or you're liable to blow somebody's house up. I didn't think I was the type for it anyway, but I was gonna give it a try. I was gonna devote all the time I could to learnin' it.

About Performing Before a Live Audience:

There's one other thing, too, that I think people should try and realize. There's a big difference in singing on a record and singing for an audience. People can stay home and listen to your records on the radio or phonograph and it doesn't cost 'em anything. But when they pay their money to come out and see you at a personal appearance, these people want to see a show. They pay their money to see something with life in it, not just to hear something on a phonograph. If I stood up in front of an audience and did nothing but sing, I'd be holding myself back deliberate. I wouldn't enjoy myself, I couldn't enjoy myself if I did that. And the audience would know it. They'd know I didn't enjoy what I was doing, and they wouldn't come out to see me again the next time.

About Expanding His Appeal:

I'd appeal to the apes in Africa if I could (laughs).

A Lonely Soldier Boy Writes His Girl Back Home:

Every night I lay in my bunk, I see your little eyes and your little nose, and it's almost like you are here, like you are pressed up close to me. I can feel your little hair on the side of my face and sometimes I get so excited and want you so bad I start sweating. "WOW!"

One Promise He Kept:

I would never sell Graceland! Not at no price to nobody, as long as I can hang on to it. Besides, it would be foolish to sell now that I've got it completed. And, uh, I don't think my mother would like it if I did.

And One He Did Not:

[To Anita Wood] I guarantee that when I marry, it will be Miss "Little 'Presley' Wood." There is a lot you have to understand though. Only God knows when the time will be right. So you have got to consider this and love me, trust me and keep yourself clean and wholesome because that is the big thing that can determine our lives and happiness together. If you believe me and trust me you will wait for me and our future will be filled with happiness.

About Army Expectations:

I was in a funny position. Actually, that's the only way it could be. People were expecting me to mess up (laughs) ... to goof up in one way or another. They thought I couldn't take it and so forth, and I was determined to go to any limits to prove otherwise, not only to the people who were wondering ... but to myself.

But Can He Dance:

I can't dance to rock and roll music. I can slow dance, but I never learned to bop.

Why Has He Outlasted Other Entertainers of His Generation:

I take Vitamin E (laughs).

About Himself:

What I look at myself as, not really playing everything down, but, as a human being, really, who's been extremely fortunate in so many ways, although I have had and still have some very lonely and … there are times when I really don't know (laughs)… it feels like … I don't know what I'm gonna do next. But, I've experienced a lot of the different phases in life. I've experienced happiness and loneliness, the wealthy side of life, the average side of life, not having anything … but not knowing what it's like to have anything, so. And tragedy, like losing my mother while I was in the Army and, although I think that things like that — as tragic as they are — tend to make you a little better human being, really. 'Cause you … you learn more about yourself. It gives you a better understanding of yourself as well as other people. And it can only help.

I like the business I'm in. I like to entertain people. The money or financial end of it is not the greatest aspect as far as I'm concerned. It can't be, because if it was it would show. And I wouldn't care about the other people, I wouldn't care about a performance that I gave. Of course it's great if you can get in a position to have things, you know. But I like to entertain people. That's why I pick all my records and try to pick the best songs possible. I try to do the best I can in the movies with the experience that I've gotten and everything. I look at myself strictly as a human being who, like I said, has been very lucky, but whose life — I have blood running through my veins — can be snuffed out in just a matter of seconds and not as anything supernatural or better than any other human being.

I'm proud of the way I was brought up to believe and to treat people, and to have respect for people. When I am pushed to a certain point I have a very bad temper. An extremely bad temper, so much to the point I have no idea what I'm doing. But it doesn't happen very often.

When I was a child I was a dreamer. I read comic books and I was the hero of the comic book. I saw movies and I was the hero in the movie. So every dream that I ever dreamed has come true a hundred times. I'd like to say that, uh, I learned very early in life that without a song, the day would never end. Without a song, a man ain't got a friend. Without … without a song, the road would ever bend, without a song. So I'll keep singing a song.

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