" 'Til we meet you again, may God bless you. Adios."
-Said in 1977 at the end of a concert during his last tour.

Adversity is sometimes hard upon a man; but for one man who can stand prosperity, there are a hundred that will stand adversity.

After a hard day of basic training, you could eat a rattlesnake.

"A live concert to me is exciting because of all the electricity that is generated in the crowd and on stage. It's my favorite part of the business - live concerts."
-Elvis at a press conference prior to his 1973 television special, "Elvis - Aloha from Hawaii, via Satellite".

Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine.
In "Rand Lindsly's HUGE Quotations File," an Internet collection of quotations.

Don't criticize what you don't understand, son. You never walked in that man's shoes.
-Elvis often used this adaptation of a well-known quotation.

Every time I think that I'm getting old, and gradually going to the grave, something else happens.

From the time I was a kid, I always knew something was going to happen to me. Didn't know exactly what.

"I ain't no saint, but I've tried never to do anything that would hurt my family or offend God...I figure all any kid needs is hope and the feeling he or she belongs. If I could do or say anything that would give some kid that feeling, I would believe I had contributed something to the world"
-Elvis commenting to a reporter, 1950's.

I'd just like to be treated like a regular customer.

"I'm planning a lot of changes" ... "You can't go on doin,g the same thing year after year. It's been a long time since I've done anything professional, except make movies and cut albums... Before long I'm going to make some personal appearance tours... I want to see some places I've never seen before. I miss the personal contact with audiences."
After his wildly successful and critically acclaimed 1968 NBC television special.

"I'm so lucky to be in the position to give. It's really a gift to give."

"I'm still afraid to this day that one morning I'll wake up and find out that everything was a dream and that we're all still back in Tupelo with no hope of getting out from under the poverty"
In the 1970s Elvis was haunted by fears that it might all crumble.

"I'm used to it. I'd kinda miss it if it didn't happen. To me it's part of the business, and I accept it"
Elvis never tired of signing autographs.

"I've never gotten over what they call stage fright. I go through it every show. I'm pretty concerned, I'm pretty much thinking about the show. I never get completely comfortable with it, and I don't let the people around me get comfortable with it, in that I remind them that it's a new crowd out there, it's a new audience, and they haven't seen us before. So it's got to be like the first time we go on."
-From a 1972 taped interview used in MGM's documentary "Elvis on Tour".

I did the Ed Sullivan show four times. I did the Steve Allen show. I did the Jackie Gleason show.

I don't know anything about music. In my line you don't have to.

"I don't sound like nobody"
Elvis to Marion Kessler, the first time he enter Sun Studios

I don't do any vulgar movements.

"I don't know why she had to go so young. But it made me think abouth death. I don't feel I'll live a long life. That's why I have to get what I can from every day".
Elvis died on August 16, 1977 at the age of 42.

I don't think I'm bad for people. If I did think I was bad for people, I would go back to driving a truck, and I really mean this.

"I enjoy reading. I don't usually read the type of books other people read. I read a lot of pholosophy and some poetry. I just read a book, "Leaves of Gold. It's by different people and their different philosophies on life and death. That type of stuff interest me, getting these different people's opinions"

"I enjoy rugged sports. I'm not knocking people who like golf and tennis and other things. But I like rugged sports such as boxing, football, karate and things like that. I have a great ambition to play football. I've always had and I still have, believe it or not.The thing I keep up with most is professional football. I know all the players, I kow all their numbers, who they play for. I watch all the games that I can. I get the films from the teams themselves if I can. Next to the entertainment thing and music, football is the thing I enjoy best"

I'll never feel comfortable taking a strong drink, and I'll never feel easy smoking a cigarette. I just don't think those things are right for me.

I'll never make it, it will never happen, because they're never going to hear me 'cause they're screaming all the time.

I'll stay in Memphis.

I'm no hillbilly singer.

I'm not trying to be sexy. It's just my way of expressing myself when I move around.

I'm so nervous. I've always been nervous, ever since I was a kid.

I'm strictly for Stevenson. I don't dig the intellectual bit, but I'm telling you, man, he knows the most.

I'm trying to keep a level head. You have to be careful out in the world. It's so easy to get turned.

I've been getting some bad publicity - but you got to expect that.

I've never written a song in my life. It's all a big hoax.

I've tried to lead a straight, clean life, not set any kind of a bad example.

"I've had intellectuals tell me that I've got to progress as an actor, explore new horizons, take on new challenges, all that routines. I'd like to progress, but I'm smart enough to realize that you can't bite off more than you can chew in this racket. You can't go beyond your limitations. They want me to try an artistic picture. That's fine. Maybe I can pull it off some day. But not now. I've done 11 pictures and they've all made money. A certain type of audience likes me. I entertain them with what I'm doing. I'd be a fool to tamper with that kind of success."

I happened to come along in the music business when there was no trend.

I have no use for bodyguards, but I have very specific use for two highly trained certified public accountants.

I hope I didn't bore you too much with my life story.

I have no use for bodyguards, but I have a very special use for two highly trained certified public accountants.
In "Webster's Electronic Quotebase," ed. Keith Mohler, 1994.

I knew by heart all the dialogue of James Dean's films; I could watch "Rebel Without a Cause" a hundred times over.
In "James Dean in His Own Words," 1989.

"I know I drove all those other guys [the other members of the Mafia] crazy buying you this house, but your mother died when you were a a year old, and you never had a home, and I wanted to be the one to give it to you."
to Jerry Schilling when he gaves him a new home as wedding gift

I learned how important it is to entertain people and give them a reason to come and watch you play.

I like entertaining people. I really miss it. I like to sing ballads the way Eddie Fisher does and the way Perry Como does. But the way I'm singing now is what makes the money.

I miss my singing career very much.

I never expected to be anybody important.

"I never felt poor. There was always shoes to wear and food to eat - yet I knew there were things my parents did without just to make sure I was clothed and fed"

I sure lost my musical direction in Hollywood. My songs were the same conveyer belt mass production, just like most of my movies were.

I think I have something tonight that's not quite correct for evening wear. Blue suede shoes.

It's human nature to gripe, but I'm going ahead and doing the best I can.

I was an only child, and Mother was always right with me all my life. I used to get very angry at her when I was growing up-it's a natural thing.

I was an overnight sensation.

I was training to be an electrician. I suppose I got wired the wrong way round somewhere along the line.

" I went to Hollywood. My next move was to Hollywood. that's how it work's. You get a record and then you get on television and then take you to Hollywood to make a picture. So I did Love Me Tender, then I did Loving You. I wasn't ready for that town and they weren't ready for me".
After the Ed Sullivan Show in 1956

"It's not secluded. I'm just sneaky"
Once asked why he lived such a secluded life.

"It's true, I do have four Cadillacs. I haven't got any use for four. Maybe some day I'll go broke and I can sell a couple of 'em".

Just because I managed to do a little something, I don't want anyone back home to think I got the big head.

Later on they send me to Hollywood. To make movies. It was all new to me. I was only 21 years old.

Man, I really like Vegas.

"Man, I was tame compared to what they do now. Are you kidding? I didn't do anything but just jiggle."
-From the press conference prior to his record-breaking Madison Square Garden shows in New York City, 1972.

Man, that record came out and was real big in Memphis. They started playing it, and it got real big. Don't know why-the lyrics had no meaning.

"Man, they sure sound funny, boy. They've got a lot of echo on 'em, man, I tell you. I think the overall sound has improved today."
Elvis listening to his old Sun Records

"Money's meant to be spread around. The more happiness it helps to create, the more it's worth. It's worthless as an old cut-up paper if it just lays in a bank and grows there without ever having been used to help a body"
Elvis was one of the wealthiest - and most generous - performers of his time

More than anything else, I want the folks back at home to think right of me.

"My mother, she never really wanted anything. She stayed the same through it all. There are a lot of things that's happened since she passed away. I wish she could have been around to see them. It would have made her very happy and proud, but that's life, and I can't help it"

My movements, ma'am, are all leg movements. I don't do nothing with my body.

People ask me where I got my singing style. I didn't copy my style from anybody . . . . Country music was always an influence on my kind of music.
In "The Book of Country Music Wisdom," ed. by Criswell Freeman, 1994.

"Priscilla is going to...uh...uh... have..uh...Priscilla is going to have a baby" he blurted to the congratulations of everyone there.
"We're going to have another rock'n' roll singer"

"Rhythm is something you either have or don't have, but when you have it, you have it all over"

Rock and roll music, if you like it, if you feel it, you can't help but move to it. That's what happens to me. I can't help it.'

Since the beginning, it was just the same. The only difference, the crowds are bigger now.

"Some people tap their feet, some people snap their fingers, and some people sway back and forth. I just sorta do 'em all together, I guess.
-Elvis in 1956, talking about his way of moving on stage.

"Something with meaning. I couldn't dig always playing the guy who'd get into a fight, beat the guy up, and in the next shot sing to him" To the media who wanted to knowwhat kinds of movie scripts he liked.

That's why I hate to get started in these jam sessions. I'm always the last one to leave.

The army teaches boys to think like men.

The closest I ever came to getting married was just before I started singing. In fact, my first record saved my neck.

The colored folks been singing it and playing it just like I'm doin' now, man, for more years than I know. I got it from them.

"The first time that I appeared on stage, it scared me to death. I really didn't know what all the yelling was about. I didn't realize that my body was moving. It's a natural thing to me. So to the manager backstage I said 'What'd I do? What'd I do?' And he said "Whatever it is, go back and do it again'."
-From a 1972 taped interview used in MGM's documentary "Elvis on Tour".

"...the image is one thing and the human being is another...it's very hard to live up to an image."
-From the press conference prior to his record-breaking Madison Square Garden shows in New York City, 1972.

The Lord can give, and the Lord can take away. I might be herding sheep next year.

The next thing I knew, I was out of the service and making movies again. My first picture was called, GI Blues. I thought I was still in the army.

"Then i made some movies, you know G.I. Blues and Blue Hawaii and several pictures that did very well for me. But as the years went by, I really missed the people, the audience contact. I was really gettin' bugged. I was doing so many movies and couldn't really do what I could do. They'd say, 'Action!' and I'd go, 'Whop, whop, ump'"

There are too many people that depend on me. I'm too obligated. I'm in too far to get out.

"There were these singers perfectly fine singers, but nobody responded to them. Then there were the preachers and they cut up all over the place, jumping on the piano, moving every which way. The crowd responded to them.
I guess I learned from them"

Once asked where he got the wiggle, he cited an unlikely influence


They put me on television. And the whole thing broke loose. It was wild, I tell ya for sure.

Those movies sure got me into a rut.

Those people in New York are not gonna change me none.

Too much TV hurts movies.

Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain't goin' away.

Until we meet again, may God bless you as he has blessed me.

"We do two shows a night for five weeks. A lotta times we'll go upstairs and sing until daylight - gospel songs. We grew up with it...It more or less puts your mind at ease. It does mine."
-Talking about the informal jam sessions he and the band and entourage enjoy each night during the lengthy Vegas engagements. These happen upstairs in Elvis' suite at the Las Vegas Hilton as they all try to "wind down" from the excitement and energy of the live shows. Quote is from a 1972 taped interview used in MGM's documentary "Elvis on Tour".

"We were an affectionate family. My mother was the most wonderful person in the world. I always felt a little bit lonely, maybe a better word would be 'incomplete', when I waslittle. But I could tell my mother about it, how I felt and then the feeling would go away. I suppose it might have been different if my brother had lived... But he didn't live, and I grew up alone. I guess my mother - and my father, too, of course - were trying to make up for that by giving me enough love for both."

Whatever I will become will be what God has chosen for me.

When I get married, it'll be no secret.

When I got outta High School I was driving a truck. I was just a poor boy from Memphis, Memphis.

When I was a boy, I always saw myself as a hero in comic books and in movies. I grew up believing this dream.

"When I was a child, ladies and gentlemen, I was a dreamer. I read comic books, and I was the hero of the comic book. I saw movies, and I was the hero in the movie. So every dream I ever dreamed has come true a hundred times...I learned very early in life that: ‘Without a song, the day would never end; without a song, a man ain't got a friend; without a song, the road would never bend - without a song.' So I keep singing a song. Goodnight. Thank you."
-From his acceptance speech for the 1970 Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation Award. Given at a ceremony on January 16, 1971. (Elvis quotes from copyrighted material with lines from the song "Without a Song")

"You know, stories like this made me madder than anything. I don't think the guy who wrote it ever saw me. Why, there was this woman the other day - she said I danced vulgar. She'd never talked to me and I bet she never saw me sing. She had no right to print those lies about me. I don't go anything vulgar. My mom wouldn't want me to"
Responding to an unflattering magazine article in 1956

"You only pass through this life once, you don't come back for an encore"



The Priceless Gift


Janelle McComb of Tupelo, Mississippi was a good friend to Elvis and his family for many years. On several occasions Elvis asked her to lend her unique talents to record his feelings in verse. "The Priceless Gift", a birthday poem for his daughter Lisa, was one of those occasions. Lisa's copy is displayed at Graceland. Here, from its author is the story of how the poem was created:

In the latter part of '71, I was visiting Graceland. Lisa was pushing her baby buggy through the hall, and I said to Elvis, "Can you imagine? She is soon going to be four years old. What are you going to give her for her birthday?"

Elvis paused and said "I don't know - she's all we have - she is our most prized possession. I want Lisa to know what the important things in life are. Money is not important - it is fleeting and all this is just vanity." He said "A lot has happened through the years. Do you remember, when we left Tupelo, all we had was a little trunk on top of the car."

We talked and laughed for an hour or more reminiscing about his childhood, about his mother cooking, about how his grandmother wore an apron, and about the song "Precious Memories", which was sung at his mother's funeral. He said "Those early values that my parents taught me are still my values, and I want my child to know them."

"Mrs. McComb," Elvis said, (he always addressed me as "Mrs. McComb" when he was talking to me, but always autographed things to me as "Janelle".) "do you think you could take your pen and write something for me to give my little girl to tell her what the real values of life are, because I may not always be around."

"In other words," I said, "you want to give her 'the priceless gift'."

He said "That's right, and be sure to sign it 'Daddy'."

I said "Well, Elvis, I'll try."

I went home and wrote the poem. When I brought it back to Elvis at Graceland, he was so touched and pleased when he read it, he ran up the stairs two at a time to hide it until Lisa's birthday. When he came back down crying, I asked him to sign my copy of the poem. He signed it, then with his elbow attempted to wipe the tears off the paper and smeared his signature. He said "Oh, Mrs. McComb, I've ruined your copy."

"No," I said, "someday those teardrops will be just as priceless as this poem is to you."


The Priceless Gift

Birthdays are always special
as your fourth one comes to you
and I wondered what I'd give you
Just anything wouldn't do.

I thought of childish treasures
to hang upon your wall
Yet nothing seemed appropriate
or none I could recall.

Money seemed so cold and fleeting
Bought treasures go so fast
And I wanted a gift to please you
And one that would also last.

You know you're sort of special
You are really all we've got
You're Mama's bit of heaven
And Daddy's tiny tot.

I closed my eyes - the years rolled by
And I slowly found my way
To a shadowed corner in the attic
T'was a link to my yesterday.

I raised the lid to a frayed old trunk
And there a priceless treasure lay
A tattered apron with strings still tied
And I knew I heard her say -

"Son, I'm now just a precious memory
But don't ever forget one thing
I always tried to guide your life
With these worn out apron strings.

They guided a man named Lincoln
As he steered the ship of State
It's the only gift I gave you
That will never go out of date.

Apron strings changed the course of
History as great men felt their tug
They followed sons onto battle fields
Without the slightest shrug.

They guided both kings and beggars
Through harmony and strife
Son, you surely must have felt their tug
For how God has blessed your life.

I bowed my head and said a prayer
For I knew God had surely touched
A tattered old trunk so tucked away
And an apron that had meant so much.

So Lisa, I give you the "Priceless Gift"
That surpasses all other things
A whole lifetime of love for you
She tied in her apron strings.


Daddy



1971 Janelle McComb