Careless Love is the full, true, and mesmerizing story of Elvis Presley's last two decades, in the long-awaited second volume of Peter Guralnick's masterful two-part biography.
Last Train to Memphis, the first part of Guralnick's two-volume life of Elvis Presley, was acclaimed by the New York Times as "a triumph of biographical art". This concluding volume recounts the second half of Elvis' life in rich and previously unimagined detail, and confirms Guralnick's status as one of the great biographers of our time.
Beginning with Presley's army service in Germany in 1958 and ending with his death in Memphis in 1977, Careless Love chronicles the unraveling of the dream that once shone so brightly, homing in on the complex playing-out of Elvis' relationship with his Machiavellian manager, Colonel Tom Parker. It's a breathtaking revelatory drama that for the first time places the events of a too-often mistold tale in a fresh, believable, and understandable context.
Elvis' changes during these years form a tragic mystery that Careless Love unlocks for the first time. This is the quintessential American story, encompassing elements of race, class, wealth, sex, music, religion, and personal transformation. Written with grace, sensitivity, and passion, Careless Love is a unique contribution to our understanding of American popular culture and the nature of success, giving us true insight at last into one of the most misunderstood public figures of our times.
©1999 Peter Guralnick (P)2012 Hachette Audio
The life of Elvis Presley, Elvis was before my time for the most part. I was a child when he died there was so much talk about his death I wanted to know the truth. The way they talk about Elvis one would think he walked on water. This story is as depressing as it was refreshing. Depressing because his life was so stilted, probably because of his mother, read the first installment The Last Train to Memphis, and refreshing because he is seen as a human being. This story made me cry at places, honestly I think Elvis spent life looking for his mother. I would recommend this book that is the second installment and the first book I mentioned above for both fans and detractors of Elvis Presley you will not be disappointed by them no matter what camp you are in.
I just finished both volumes of Peter Guralnick's biography of Elvis. By the time I reached my teens and started paying attention to music Elvis was already past his career revival so I never really had an appreciation for him or his music. This book changed all of that for me. It's a beautifully written biography of one of the most charismatic, talented and influential musicians ever. I enjoyed every word and am grateful to the author for finally introducing me ti Elvis Presley.
just one more book lover
This is the book on Elvis you don't want to read--only because, as the subtitle suggests, it documents the unmaking of Elvis Presley.
I've read other books about Elvis in his "declining years." But this is the most engaging and even-handed account. Peter Guralnick is that special kind of biographer. He respects his subject, tries to see the best in him, and yet doesn't shy away from the flaws and major cracks.
Guralnick picks up the narrative where he left off with the first book, Last Train to Memphis, in his two-part history. You'll probably want to read that book first. Like Mark Lewisohn's peerless history of the Beatles' origins, Tune In, Last Train to Memphis offers the captivating thrill ride of Elvis's rise to fame. It's a jaunty ride, full of coincidence, characters, improbability, destiny and great music.
But with Careless Love, we find Elvis Presley in 1958 in the army. This is where he meets Priscilla Beaulieu. And then we find him back in the civilian world pursuing a career in Hollywood, which would be his nexus for the coming decade.
Guralnick weaves together the many threads of Elvis's life as he jets between movie sets and Graceland. There are plenty of on-set romances, parties and bad boy behavior with the Memphis Mafia, the gang of hometown boys Elvis kept on as paid staff but whose main purpose was to provide friendship.
Often that friendship bordered on sycophancy. Interviewees talk about Elvis pulling out a cigarillo and the mafia competing to see who could light it for him. Elvis knew the score. He showed girlfriends how literally at a snap of his fingers he could get his boys to jump.
There's a lot that's contradictory about the later Elvis. He was a passionate spiritual seeker, who yet seemed incapable of using that self-knowledge to improve his life. Rather, he surrendered to bad habits and addictions. He upheld the idea of the perfect family but did everything to sabotage his marriage to Priscilla.
Guralnick doesn't let us forget the high points of this longest stretch of Elvis's life. The singer was still striving for a sound in the 1960s, only not the rock 'n' roll sound he'd found at Sun Records and then turned into a worldwide phenomenon at RCA. He recorded gospel and country. He shook himself together for the comeback TV special and album in 1968 and followed the next year with the Memphis album. He became a Vegas legend, until that stint grew stale and Elvis began to act out his frustration.
As Guralnick lays out the last chapters, you find yourself--or I found myself alternately sympathizing with a star whose spotlight was too big, despising a drug-addled and mean-spirited despot and wondering over and over and over again, What happened?
Careless Love is in many ways an exploration of what happened. But the explanation is not linear. It's as confusing as life itself, with highs and lows and everything that fits in between, as well as the striving of a single human being to live for some greater purpose while undercutting those very efforts with the same insecurities and needy ambition that once rocketed a poor boy into music history.
I love Kevin Stillwell's narration. It's not showy but has a liveliness that keeps the ear interested. Stillwell also narrates Guralnick's Last Train to Memphis and Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll.
I am a young-executive with a voracious appetite for great stories. I read and listen constantly, and am very proud of my book collection.
I have been profoundly effected by this "fly on the wall" narrative of the decline of Elvis Presley. He was a true American, living life across the spectrum of poverty to great wealth. His story of trying to fill his own black hole with generosity, drugs, and women is both haunting and horrific.
This book is a mirror from which all of us can learn that appearances are often not what they seem.
I sure hope The King has found some peace on the other side. He was a great man!
loved this biography. one of the best ever. if you aren't interested in elvis, you will be after. if you love elvis, you will find this to be a great tribute to one of the greatest
Peter Guralnick is an exceptional biographer and a talented writer. He treats his subjects with such profound respect, more, in this case than the subject deserves. So many heroes suffer in the light of honest biography (Mickey Mantle comes to mind), but post-war Elvis far exceeds what most people already know about his last years of miserable decline. It is a sad, sad story, but well-told.
After reading Albert Goldman's Elvis, I was interested in having another viewpoint on Elvis's life, so I embarked on listening to the first volume of this alternative biography, Last Train to Memphis. I slogged my way through it and hoped that the second volume, Careless Love, would be more stimulating. It is not. It is stupefyingly boring and I can hardly force myself to finish listening. Now I really don't care if Goldman took too many liberties with the material he gathered on Elvis because at least he tried to delve below the surface and speculate on the nature of the personality and motivations generating the events of Elvis's life. Careless Love deliberately stays on the surface and as such is numbingly tedious.
"So Much I didn't know"
Yes, especially if they are even remotely interested in Elvis and his music.
It made me sad to realise someone I had been so attached to as a child / teenager listening to his music had really messed his life up.
Elvis remains an enigma, a wonderful artist and so much written about him but the main thing in the book shows that he was for the most part a gentleman and a sweet guy.
"Enjoyable walk through the life of Elvis"
This is a fascinating account in some detail, into the life of the sometimes cruel, sometimes benevolant character of Elvis Presley and the world that be built around himself.
The obese and obsessive environment of drugs, sex, adoration, hedonism, and self love that was the Elvis world is all on show here. I don't feel that Guralnick is pulling any punches. The incredible charity and generosity of the man is there, the triviality in his film career (and how he earned so much of his money) is acknowledged, the cruelty, the temper and the drug dependency is all on show.
There is incredible insight into Elvis' sexual tastes (he would today, surely be regarded as a paedophile with an undeniable apetite for girls in white panties aged 16 and under - even in his late twenties). The politics of his relationships - Anne Margaret and Priscilla particularly - are there. His emotional, financial, sexual and physical abuse of Priscilla is never denied.
There is a dark murky quality to the whimsical nature of the man. Halting his entire entourage on a long road trip from L.A. to Memphis because he wanted to fly a particular groupie in for an afternoon of sex is just a 'by the way' mention in one chapter. 'What Elvis wants, Elvis gets' is the motto of his life.
In order to sustain this environment Guralnick presents us with a man of undeniable talent - possibly even genius - who sold it out for a considerable period to perform in mundane, hastily cobbled together films that kept his manager, his father and his entourage financially satisfied.
While it was clear that Elvis was a great musical performer - a man who changed the face of modern American music and, no less, defied racial boundaries (when it was not to be taken for granted) - his tame, frankly soul destroying acting career helped him to spiral downwards into the distraction of drugs and the type of inward focused philosophy that only fuelled his ego.
Guralnick is very successful in painting the picture of a world that Elvis believed was all about him, and in which all things intersected through him - money, religious faith, the physical world - everything. The Mephis Mafia are portrayed as a group of limited ability red neck sycophants, parasites, and hangers on. Elvis is the puppet master who gave them positive strokes, balled them out, and generally played one against the other in order to make himself feel good - or simply for brief amusement.
This telling is thorough without feeling pedantic. There are great individual tales of significant private events. You get the feeling of a man who was incredibly flawed, over indulged, and was yet apparently so magnetic (and not simply on a financial level).
I'm no Elvis Presley fan. I believe that everyone does have an Elvis track that they get a genuine kick out of - I'm not different (I like his earlier, bluesier, more raucous materials personally) - but I'm no expert on the subject. I bought the book because America has such an unique way of taking it's biggest stars and turning them into - well, royalty (before destroying them).
Guralnick really delivers here. He really gets inside. For the duration of the telling you do actually feel like you're riding silently with Elvis, just watching it unfold from another dimension. It is compelling. It has turned my journey to work into a strange second life that I don't know how to explain to either my work colleagues nor my family!
Yes - this is a very sound investment.
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