A day in the life: pure liquid cocaine soaked into cotton balls and stuffed up his nose for breakfast; a tutti-frutti of eviscerating biphetamines to get the day off to a smart jog; a whole undulant funhouse spin of downs, any downs at all, for tea. And yet, and yet … Presley’s excess never feels particularly Dionysian; it seems far more a matter of exerting control. Sex and drugs were never binged things, but run always according to his pernickety little itineraries. In the 2005 photo history Elvis by the Presleys, there are two books embossed with his special golden name-stamp: a slim black New Testament Prayer Key and his colossal, multi-coloured Physicians’ Desk Reference. (The latter was his bible, next to the Bible.) Life became more and more a closed-off space, Graceland a cathedral dedicated to endless self-reflection. He was his own icon, long before he became ours.
Thursday, 18 September 2014
The wonderful Ian Penman on Elvis in the LRB: