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Bob Dylan's Masterclass on Elvis

2022-11-29T11:12:32.433Z

The 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature publishes 'Philosophy of modern song', a book with more than sixty essays in which he analyzes the work of other musicians. 'Babelia' advances the chapter dedicated to 'Viva Las Vegas', by Elvis Presley



THE SONG OF THE GAMBLER, OF THE PLAYER: the wheel of fortune.

High or low odds, heads or tails, the tombola, lotteries and dice.

Roulette, the million, the rolled up city, the starry city.

This is where your personality catches fire.

This is where you weigh the risks, where you brave the danger and accumulate a fortune, like Rothschilds, Hobbs, DuPonts, Vanderbilts, and spend it like water, like a drunken sailor.

It is the most miraculous of miracle cities.

You live above your means, a stunning place.

You put the money and raise the bet.

You spill money, you live on credit, you tell everyone you can pay.

Long live this city, with its women that never end: girls and ladies, girls and dolls, escorts, relatives and bodyguards.

You don't stop for a second, not even to breathe.

You're the urchin, the devil-worshipper, the bogeyman with a plus of greed.

Long live this city.

You never rest or go to waste.

No loitering or lounging, you go for it all.

If the day had eighty more hours... Play dice, cut the deck, bet and hit the trile, somewhat suspicious visits to the bathroom, lotto and bingo.

You're getting money and things get good.

You shuffle the cards and hit rock bottom.

A million in the trash, you have lost a fortune and you will win a gold mine.

You have the soul of an atomic engine, robust as an ox, made of iron and strong as steel.

Your nerves are strong and hard as marble.

Las Vegas, crossroads of the modern world.

Utopia, Garden of Eden, Dream Land.

If you see it once, even halfway, you will no longer be the same.

One glance is enough and you are transformed, mutated into something else, an arcane matter with a perpetual smile, something rich and strange.

More wood, you have to go out and freshen up, relax your legs, cross in red and frequent the roost.

You shoot fast as lightning.

Trembling like a flan with verve and desire.

Chirping like a cricket and giving life: you are enjoying like a dwarf in gaming hell.

You sing the praises of the city you love.

The city where morning becomes midnight and midnight tomorrow, which transforms dawn into dawn.

Sunset is the first glimpse of dazzling light—invisible radiation, flickering and flickering, glitter and shimmer—that melts the photometer.

It costs you every penny, you lose and the last dollar slips away.

You are undone and you end up a beggar, wasted and shriveled like a raisin: the blow has knocked you out.

This time you're going to go all out, like a fireball, reinvigorated and asking Lady Luck to blow your dice, to make sure the ball bounces in your square, that the odds are on your side.

You're going to pitch like a master, hit the nail on the head, and beat the system.

You want to finish at the top and you don't want it to end now.

to make sure that the ball jumps in your square, that the calculation of probabilities is on your side.

You're going to pitch like a master, hit the nail on the head, and beat the system.

You want to finish at the top and you don't want it to end now.

to make sure that the ball jumps in your square, that the calculation of probabilities is on your side.

You're going to pitch like a master, hit the nail on the head, and beat the system.

You want to finish at the top and you don't want it to end now.

Ann-Margret and Elvis Presley in a scene from the movie 'Viva Las Vegas', 1964. Archive Photos (Getty Images)

THE THEME OF THIS SONG IS FAITH.

The kind of faith it takes to walk into a shower in the middle of the desert and firmly believe that water is going to come out.

Or, perhaps better, the kind of faith it takes when you stand in the marble lobby of an opulent, neon-lit hotel while you're served free drinks by endless gorgeous women in sequined leotards flirting for tips in a glitzy city of shops. of commitments and suicides and you continue to believe that you are going to win.

It's normal for your soul to swell.

Viva Las Vegas

is also an advertisement.

No doubt when Elvis recorded this Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman theme in 1963 and released it in 1964 he did not know that five years later, in July 1969, the subject of his jaunty, carefree love song was to become the stage. of their live performances and that, in turn, that famous artificial and nocturnal oasis was going to vampirically satisfy their worst habits and impulses.

Colonel Tom Parker is often reviled by a certain section of fans for squandering Elvis' talents on increasingly infamous movies and for keeping him prisoner in Las Vegas through a bargain contract with the Hilton that would offset the manager's gambling debts to the hotel. .

As is well known, Elvis' health and performance suffered progressively, although that did not stop people from paraded before him night after night.

The show began to resemble a Barnum's Circus act, which promoted once-stellar attractions as mere curiosity to keep attracting people to the big top.

In this case, the curiosity was Elvis and the Las Vegas tent.

Ultimately, if the public was disappointed by the disintegration of the star, there were a thousand other hobbies to distract themselves with.

And distract them money.

Someone once told me of a medicine man whose dapper cronies used to stand guard at the doors of his healing shows and offer a courtesy wheelchair to anyone who had difficulty walking: people with crutches, canes, walkers, or severely limp. .

They were told that they could accommodate themselves next to the stage, where they had enabled a space for wheelchairs.

The healer would go out, see the chairs and bring out one of its users on stage.

He was telling the crowd that this person did not need a wheelchair.

Sure, he already knows.

He tells the person to get up and walk.

When the deceased does so, the people cheer, convinced that they have seen a miracle, without knowing that that person was already perfectly capable of walking.

This is how the scam works.

But the interesting thing is that if you talk about it with the guy in the wheelchair, he buys it too.

Being on stage with people cheering you on is tremendous medicine.

Between the adrenaline, endorphins, and who knows what else pumping through the subject's metabolism, he might not have truly felt pain for the first time in his life.

No matter how you explain what just happened to him, he also believes that he has participated in a miracle.

And that's how faith works.

And the real con men, the good ones, must also have some faith in themselves.

As WC Fields said: "You can't fool an honest man."

As for the myth of Elvis, it is easy to portray the Colonel as a Judas throwing money into the slots — at thirty coins a session — but it is worth remembering that there would not have been a King to be dethroned without the Colonel's hard work and his faith. indelible from the start.

Even in the darkest hours, the Colonel was loyal and sincere, not pretending to other claimants to the throne, not worshiping false gods or other patrons.

Even after Elvis's death, he stayed at the Hilton to make sure the tributes were respectful, even as cynics pointed out that Parker allowed himself to be turned into a tourist attraction to continue paying off debts with his growing moneylenders.

Meanwhile, Doc Pomus, though also confined to a wheelchair, needed no healers of any kind: he reserved his faith for whatever lay between a straight flush and four of a kind.

Seeing that writing songs seemed rather haphazard to him, he left it for the relative safety of the fancy games he organized in his Manhattan apartment.

When one of the players left the table one night and found himself floating in the East River, he had to leave that too.

Soon after, BB King and Dr. John knocked on Doc's door and dragged him back into the world of music, which was also a butcher but in a more metaphorical way.

Elvis is dead, the Colonel is dead, Doc Pomus is dead too.

BB King and Dr. John, dead.

Meanwhile, the Hilton chain now owns thirty-one hotels in Las Vegas.

The house always wins.

Long live Las Vegas.

Philosophy of Modern Song

by Bob Dylan.

Translation by Miquel Izquierdo.

Anagram, 2022. 352 pages, 29.90 euros.

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Source: elparis

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