RIP the greatest Elvis-novelty-movie-song writer ever

Sid Tepper’s Los Angeles Times obituary today:

Tepper and Bennett never had a big hit with an Elvis song — many of them were novelty numbers. For “Girls! Girls! Girls!” (1962), they wrote “Song of the Shrimp” with lyrics from the point of view of a shrimp.

Goodbye mama shrimp, papa shake my hand
Here come the shrimper for to take me to Louisian’

The songs were in sharp contrast to the gritty numbers that made Elvis an electrifying star. But Tepper made no apologies.

“I believe that Elvis’ movies and their songs made a mighty contribution to his career,” he told Sharp. “They brought him to the attention of millions of people who otherwise would never have known the greatness of the King.”

A few favorites from Tepper’s bunch as I learn about him this morning…

The shrimp song (and, somehow, a Frank Black cover of it):

A Tepper song I’ve mentioned before here, Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce:

One I just discovered today, a duet with Ann Margaret, which is weird and delightful, The Lady Loves Me (and more about how the song came about):

And the first novelty Elvis movie song I ever heard (somehow among the tracks on my first Elvis tape), Cane and a High-Starched Collar:

The heyday of Elvis-Pelvis

A year or so ago, when Angela Burke died, her obituary caught my attention. “Angela Burke-Kerrigan blazed a trail for female journalists,” the Toronto Star headline said. My favorite line? “In 1957, the Star sent her to cover an Elvis concert, after which she wrote an entertainment column that ran with the headline ‘She Likes Elvis But Not Pelvis,’ admitting the king of rock and roll seemed both impressive and dangerously charming.”

This morning, while trying and failing to find an image to cheer up a friend with a recently fractured pelvis, I came across the Elvis-Pelvis story, and it lived up to all expectations one could have. Here’s part one and part two. Both come from a terrific archive of Elvis concert reviews.

Says Burke, “After seeing Elvis in action, the question is not what’s going to happen to the teen-age squealers who undoubtedly will recover their equilibria, but what will become of this Bible-reading, non-smoking, non-drinking boy who is so good to his mother.” Says Presley at the press conference, “You can be as hot as poker one day and colder than an ice cube the next.”

All of this is so much better than the tour’s subsequent coverage in Spokane: “It’s hardly original, but if any daughter of mine broke out of the woodshed tonight to see Elvis Presley in Empire Stadium, I’d kick her teeth in.” Yikes.

On the death of Elvis and the future of everything

I can’t remember how this link came my way today or if it actually came my way today at all. Could have been yesterday. But somehow this 2005 blog post of a 1977 Lester Bangs column on the death of Elvis ended up in my browser tabs. The column is as strong and opinionated as you would expect from Bangs, and your agreement with his points may come and go. But the tough, lengthy windup is worth it for the final paragraph’s pay-off.

If love truly is going out of fashion forever, which I do not believe, then along with our nurtured indifference to each other will be an even more contemptuous indifference to each others’ objects of reverence. I thought it was Iggy Stooge, you thought it was Joni Mitchell or whoever else seemed to speak for your own private, entirely circumscribed situation’s many pains and few ecstasies. We will continue to fragment in this manner, because solipsism holds all the cards at present; it is a king whose domain engulfs even Elvis’s. But I can guarantee you one thing: we will never again agree on anything as we agreed on Elvis. So I won’t bother saying good-bye to his corpse. I will say good-bye to you.