Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Having Fun With Elvis On Stage

You may, Enthusiasts, have noticed that TotD has been on a bit of an Elvis bender. I found this nifty YouTube-to-MP3 gadget, and there’s tons of live shows available; some soundboards, but also some great-sounding AUDs and they might honestly be better, as you hear the crowd’s reaction. Elvis told a lot of jokes, so the SBD’s sound like those sitcoms with the laugh tracks removed.

This show’s from ’74 at the International in Vegas. The Dead had the Wall of Sound in 1974; Elvis had a Wall of Musicians: a six-piece rock group, plus TWO sets of backup singers (white boys and black girls), and a lady named Kathy Westmoreland whose job was to sing the high notes, plus a 30-piece (honest) orchestra.

And, of course, Charlie Hodge on scarves and water.

The band is–as I’m sure you’ve grown tired of me telling you–one of the greatest show bands in history: powerful and tight and dramatic and anchored by the great Ronnie Tutt, who would join Garcia’s Legion of Mary a few months after this show. The music is perfect, and Elvis is in good voice; he does some tunes he always did–the sublimely goofy American Trilogy and the genuinely affecting You Gave Me A Mountain–and some lesser known songs like If You Talk In Your Sleep.

But this show is not about the songs. This performance–Elvis’ last of that particular engagement–is about so much more. Allow me, if you will, to slip into some more comfortable bullet points:


  • Elvis demands Charlie Hodge remove his belt for him.
  • Several book reviews.
    • He liked one book that wrote about him positively, and praised the author for being honest.
    • He did not like a different book which wrote mean things about him, and scolded the author for printing lies.
    • Elvis sounds like a guy I know.
  • An explanation of the belt system in karate.
  • A refutation of rumors about his recent divorce, leading to the introduction of Priscilla, who is in the crowd.
    • She is sitting with Lisa Marie, who is presented to the audience.
    • Also at the table is Elvis’ current girlfriend, who is told to hold up her hand so everyone could see the ring Elvis just bought her.
    • Elvis then talks about the ring for a while.
  • ’74 was when Elvis’ habit of singing along with the band got hilarious.
    • Elvis would just belt out “BAH bah BAH” with the horn section in between lyrics.
  • Multiple women are asked to “TWIRL ‘ROUND SO EV’RYBODY C’N SEE YOU.”
  • It’s Now Or Never is performed twice.

And then there are the introductions. Holiest of shits, the introductions. Elvis introduces damn near every human in the building and it takes a solid twenty minutes while the band is vamping (wonderfully) under him. I was listening to this while running errands, and I didn’t hear one song: just Elvis introducing the crowd to itself.

The introductions are so long that Elvis gets bored with doing them, sings two songs, and then goes right back into them.

Again: I am not making these up; I won’t put silly ones in.

  • All of the TCB band.
    • Obviously, Elvis instructs them all to solo.
  • Both backup singing groups, individually.
  • The high-singing lady.
  • The conductor.
  • Charlie Hodge.

At this point, Elvis demands that the piano player from the opening act come back out onstage and sing a song; Elvis recites the lyrics along with him.

  • The audio engineer.
  • Several karate men.
  • Vikki Carr, who was playing at the Tropicana.

At this point, Elvis sings It’s Now Or Never for the second time.

  • His family, again.
  • His girlfriend, again.
  • His droopy-eyed, weak-chinned, four-balled, whiskey-dicked, fartstain of a daddy–
  • Vernon.
  • –Vernon.
  • Colonel Parker.
  • Judy Spreckles, heiress to the Spreckels sugar fortune. (I swear. I know that sounds like a name I would make up, but it really happened and also Elvis talked about the ring she had given him for a couple minutes.)

At this point, Elvis stops introducing people to declare a recent paternity suit against him “a conspiracy.”

  • Bill Cosby.

I feel I must make a confession, Enthusiasts: I am a monster. This cascading insanity of a pill-fueled nutbar had had me giggling throughout my errands, but when the King said “GIVE IT UP F’R TH’ COZ, LADIES AN’ GEN’LEMEN!” I started laughing so hard that I almost crashed my car. Surprise Cosby is the funniest Cosby. (Or, the least funny Cosby.)

Oh, and then the crazy sumbitch introduces “MAH JEW’RY.” Honest. Elvis introduces his rings to the audience, and the audience applauds.

God bless Elvis, who is America.

1 Comment

  1. And Ms Donna Jean gave up a chance at his to marry a boy named Keith.

    Life’s funny that way

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