Thursday, January 7, 2016

Elvis Presley – "G.I. Blues" (1960)

We get hasenpfeffer
And black pumpernickel for chow
I'd blow my next month's pay
For a slice of Texas cow

(“Hasenpfeffer” is a traditional German stew made from rabbit.)

I recently received an e-mail from a member of the marketing team at Invaluable, an online auction website that is teaming up with Graceland Auctions to celebrate Elvis Presley’s 80th birthday by offering a dazzling array of Elvis artifacts for sale.

The auction, which kicks off tonight at 7 PM CST, has 126 lots.  Click here to check out those lots, and to register and bid.  You Elvis fans can also click here to see other Elvis memorabilia from Invaluable.

If you have $1000 to spend, you might be able to pick up an original script for Live a Little, Love a Little (a 1968 Elvis movie), or a 1959 hand-signed letter from Dale Evans and Roy Rogers to Colonel Tom Parker (who managed Elvis), or the logbook from the Lisa Marie (Elvis’s Convair 880 airplane), or Elvis’s gold record for his 1977 hit, “Way Down.”

An Elvis-owned racquetball bag
For $5000, you can probably grab a stage-worn scarf that Elvis gave to a fan at a performance in Lincoln, Nebraska less than two months before he died, or a check for $1000 that Elvis wrote to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, or an Elvis-owned racquetball bag, or his Remington .22 rifle.

The pièce de résistance of the auction is lot 24, a 1969 custom Gibson "Ebony Dove” guitar, which Elvis played in the famous 1973 “Aloha from Hawaii” concert.  That concert was broadcast via satellite to over 40 countries around the world.

For you guitar freaks out there, here’s how the Invaluable website describes this guitar:

There is no more important icon of rock 'n’ roll history than Elvis’ beloved Gibson Ebony Dove.  The Dove is a flattop steel string acoustic guitar with solid maple back and sides, and a solid spruce top.   The double-ring rosette styling with seven and three-ply binding adds an understated elegance.  The black pick guard has a white beveled edge and the adjustable rosewood saddle with mother-of-pearl circles and stylized dove shaped emblems.  The rosewood fret board with rolled edges, split parallelogram inlay is also inlaid in mother-of-pearl with the script “Elvis Presley.”  The crown peghead Gibson logo, also fondly referred to as the thistle, adorns the headstock of the guitar, and a Kenpo Karate decal is affixed to the body.  The Kenpo Karate Association of America decal dominates the front of the guitar.  It is the hallmark of the organization founded by Elvis' longtime instructor, bodyguard and confidante Ed Parker.

The guitar shows heavy stage use, with many scratches and scuffing on the reverse from Elvis' belts and jumpsuits.  The finish shows a small fissure above the karate sticker, and there are several spots of paint loss at the guitar's front edges.  While the fret board shows visible signs of playing use, the mother-of-pearl inlays remain bold and the ornate details are intact.  EX condition overall.

The minimum bid for that guitar is $150,000.  It’s expected to sell for between $300,000 to $500,000.

I’m not going after that guitar, but I may spring for lot 31, which is a handwritten two-page letter to Alan Fortas that Elvis wrote in 1958 when he was in the U.S. Army in Germany.  (Fortas was a member of Elvis’s entourage, which was called the “Memphis Mafia.”)

Here’s the text of that letter, which shouldn't cost me more than $50,000:

Dear Hog Ears,

Got your letter and was glad to hear from you.  Well you know I am bound to be pretty lonely or I wouldn’t be writing a letter.  We are up at a training area for 50 days and believe me it’s miserable.  It’s cold and there is nothing at all to do up here.  I am about 200 miles from Friedberg and won’t be back until the 20th of Dec.  It will sure be a great Christmas this year, “ha.”  I would give almost anything to be home.  You know it will be March of 1960 before I return to the States.  Man I hate to think about it.  Of course don’t say anything about it because a miracle may happen.  Boy it will be great getting out.  I will probably scream so loud they’ll make me stay 2 more years.  

Page one of the letter
I can hardly wait to start singing, traveling, making movies, and above all seeing the old gang and old Graceland.  All I do is sit and count the days.  Well it’ll be over in about 15 months and as Gen. MacArthur said, “I shall return.”  Tell D. J. and Lewis I said hello and to hold down the fort till I get back.  If you see cous, tell him I said ep skep skep skep.  I have been dating this little German “Chuckaloid” by the name of Margrit.  She looks a lot like B.B.  It’s Grind City.  Well I gotta go wade in the mud.

Your Pal, Elvis Presley 

The “Chuckaloid” named “Margrit” [sic] was a local girl named Margit Buergin, who Elvis thought resembled Brigitte Bardot (“B.B.”).  It’s not hard to imagine why he described his relationship with her as “Grind City.”

Today’s featured song is from the 1960 movie of the same name, in which Elvis plays Tulsa McLean, a tank crewman stationed in Germany who dreams of owning his own nightclub when his soldiering days are over.  

Producer Hal Wallis originally wanted Michael Curtiz – who had directed Casablanca, Mildred Pierce, and White Christmas – to direct G.I. Blues, but had to settle on Norman Taurog instead.  

Tuarog was 21 when he directed the first of his 180 films.  He went on to direct eight more Elvis movies.

Here’s “G.I. Blues”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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