13 Astonishing Peter Guralnick Quotes

Peter Guralnick is a United States popular music historian and is an active author and screenwriter. As a music critic, he travels cross country discussing his authored works. Here is a look at some of the most memorable Peter Guralnick quotes.

“Even as a child he had a vision of success taking place in a world that he couldn’t possibly imagine, except through the movies, … That’s what lends the story either a tragic resonance or pathos or whatever.”

“Everyone looked at him like he was their … savior, … everywhere he went he was an object of admiration and adoration — and yet he couldn’t muffle the growing discontent, the helplessness he felt at his inability to control not so much the world around him as his private world, the inner world that was revealed to no one but him.”

“He believed he could do everything until the day he died.”

“He constructed a shell to hide his aloneness, and it hardened on his back. I know of no sadder story.”

“He would return again and again to the same themes over the years, with different details and different emphases, but always with the same underlying message: the inherent nobility not so much of man as of freedom, and the implied responsibility – no, the obligation – for each of us to be as different as our individuated natures allowed us to be. To be different, in Sam’s words, in the extreme.”

“I guess I thought of it as an American tragedy, … It has all the elements — the success is larger than life, the aspirations are larger than life, and the fall from grace is equally larger than life.”

“I thought a lot of people would dismiss the subject as trivial, … and … that regardless of what I achieved, the subject would be dismissed. I think I’ve been gratified more than anything. Whether people like the book or don’t like the book, they treat the subject as worthy of discussion.”

“I wanted to write the book as far inside as possible.”

“I was trying to tell as honest and true a story as I could, … Really, the challenge is to portray the world the person lives in, and in the first volume it was an expanding world. You can see in ‘Careless Love’ how constricted Elvis’ world becomes.”

“In place of the body movements, wiggling his little finger lasciviously in a move that sent his audience into paroxysms of ecstasy.”

“It’s like he gained a lot from his popularity, but he suffers a lot for it too.”

“Perkins was doing basically the same sort of thing up around Jackson, and I know for a fact Jerry Lee Lewis had been playing that kind of music ever since he was ten years old. You see, from the honky tonks you got such a mixture of all different types of music, and I think what happened is that when Elvis busted through, it enabled all these other groups that had been going along more or less the same avenue—I’m sure there were hundreds of them—to tighten up and focus on what was going to be popular. If they had a steel guitar they dropped it. The weepers and slow country ballads pretty much went out of their repertoire. And what you had left was country-orientated boogie music.”

“They looked up to him. Even Barbara — she’s still trying to understand Sam. And J.W. — Sam was the person he’d liked to have been.”

Peter Guralnick sits down with the Gates of Graceland host to discuss Guralnick’s two popular Elvis books, ‘Careless Love’ and ‘Last Train to Memphis.’

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