“Nothing more (and nothing less) than a man”

By Mahnuel Muñoz 

Elvis Presley

On August 4, 1972, one of the largest solar eruptions ever recorded takes place; so intense that it disrupts telephone communications in the state of Illinois. The fact causes the AT&T company to redesign its power system for transatlantic cables. That same day, “Elvis As Recorded Live At Madison Square Garden” becomes a gold record, less than two months after it was placed on store shelves. The album documents another sidereal impact, which causes many crossings of cables, and is also a critical moment in Elvis’s career: his first concert in the City That Never Sleeps. And his second coronation, this time as “Prince From Another Planet”. I have read that the comedian Eddy Murphy and Paul Stanley (guitar and voice in Kiss) decided to seriously dedicate themselves to their own thing, influenced by the powerful waves released in those “Evenings in the Garden” by Elvis.

For Elvis, once again, it is an opportunity to remove an old chip; New York had been hard on him. Steve Allen and Ed Sullivan humiliated him there in the early years, although Sullivan had the decency to retract it publicly, although in a very paternalistic way, yes. Elvis has not forgotten the tailcoat, the puppy and the waist-up, despite the Cadillacs and awards, and he distrusts the insatiable insomniac monster of steel and concrete. But where a king can be deposed, a Man is invincible, and Elvis, who is a Man before being a king, triumphs in New York, pure and gold, like a bullfighter who only kills for love. The cape spread, one last smile, knee on the ground.

The journalist Chris Chase, who is the one who grants Elvis the rank of “Prince From Another Planet”, points out in his chronicle of the show at the Madison a much deeper description that is closer to the essence of Presley:

Very occasionally, a special champion appears on the scene (…), someone in whose hands the way he does something is more important than the thing itself.”

And so it is. What Elvis provokes in us is greater even than his art. “American Trilogy”, for example. It is one of the songs that arouses the rawest emotions among fans. Among those who do not speak English, there are those who do not know what the lyrics say, and there are those who, even knowing it, cannot experience the patriotic emotion of the verses, the product of two centuries of fratricidal struggle; Elvis knows well what America’s dreams and nightmares are made of, because he began his life stigmatized as “white trash” and ended it as a deity; That is why He, and no other, can pour so much truth into a song like that; That is why He, and no other, can open our souls like Moses opened the waters, simply by singing, without the barbed wire of words.

 

Elvis Madison Square Garden 1972

But this is not what covers that moment with gold for the King, since, at this point, the success of “As Recorded…” is nothing more than another trophy to hang on the wall. Elvis, within his affliction and stupor, is a little happier and with this emotion he magnifies his art because love returns to his life. He has met Linda Thompson, who has come into his life just in time, in the middle of the legal separation process from Priscilla.

Linda is laughter, sparkle and truth in the King’s musty surroundings. She adapts without hesitation to the crazy life of Elvis, who, recovering part of his lost smile, asks her: “Where have you been all my life?

In the concerts of that time, Presley takes space away from jokes and karate and gives it to music. He sings somber and superb. It is difficult to find, even within Elvis’s work, moments of such overwhelming dedication and greater emotional charge than his readings of “It’s Over”, “The Impossible Dream”, “You Gave Me A Mountain” or “You’ve Lost That Lovin’Feelin‘” in 1972; love is manifested in him, with the pain of farewell and the splendor of expectation, giving his interpretations a perfect balance. Another critic, A.B. Thames, captures and decrees that under all the artifice of Elvis on stage talent explodes:

He is the personification of the essence of rock and roll, and neither the tinsel nor the tricks with which the Colonel tries to cover him up can hide it

And rock, which also commits the sin of false jewelry, cannot hide that Elvis is not a dream, nor an angel nor a king. He is a Man, who like everyone works with blows of love; Take away the toupee, the jumpsuit, the cape, the rings and the limousines and he will be more and better Elvis than ever, the Elvis of love and bones, of knots in the gut, of crying and stumbling, the undistilled Elvis that was with Sam Phillips in his dreams until he became flesh one hot July day in 1954.

Article written and provided by Mahnuel Muñoz.

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