Mike Eder, author of Elvis Music FAQ, answers some questions about his book on Elvis Information Network.
Mike, thanks for agreeing to an interview, I’m really looking forward to the book finally getting published. How long have you been working on your book ‘Elvis Music FAQ’ ?
Mike Eder: I have been working on it since the fall of 2011. I did the initial chapter for the proposal and then wrote most of it in from June to December 2012. Editing has gone on pretty constantly since then, ending only about one month ago. I had input on pretty much every aspect of the book. Backbeat has a great team who came up with a lot of great ideas, but they were very respectful of me as the author at all times. It is a nice feeling.
It must be hard to gather so much information and then distil it down to a publishable size!
Mike Eder: It is because I am a completest by nature. I basically used my Elvis record collection to write this book. I have read over 300 Elvis books myself so I knew what really had NOT been said. Or at least I didn’t feel it was said in the same way. I do cover every song and make some sort of comment on each one. I did draw the line on home recordings as they weren’t really meant for public consumption and truthfully there is too much we just don’t know about to cover them as definitively as I like to generally. Every tour is mentioned and given a review of sorts, all the films, and every major record, LP, EP, or 45, released during Elvis’ lifetime.
The FAQ series of books tend to cover some quirky stuff and I also had fun doing chapters on “borrowed” songs, records made by imposters, etc (see below left). I always try to be accurate on my dates and most importantly to have a balanced perspective. I am hard on myself that way but the great thing about doing an FAQ book is that you can take your subject seriously without losing the reader. These aren’t dry reference books, but rather meant to be thought provoking and fun. I want there to be a degree of entertainment for the reader.
I know what I like as a fan of Elvis, and music books in general, so I try to make it a book people will want to thumb through again. At the same time I put basically as much information as a typical reference book might have. Whether you have one scratchy 45 and a Christmas comp CD, or every pressing known to man, I aimed to make it work for any kind of Elvis listener. I want it to be a different sort of project in that any sort of fan can take something away from it.
Do you have a favourite period 50′s, 60′s or 70s?
Mike Eder: Well my very favorite Presley recordings generally come from 1954-60 and then 1968-72. I like a lot of stuff from 1961-67, and bearing in mind his troubles at the time, I also find much to enjoy during the later years. Though from a live standpoint the pickings get slim by 1976. Still I think the two periods I mentioned are when Elvis was enjoying what were ultimately two different kind of peaks.
There is no secret that Elvis was a great artist who made some bad records. I try to make sense of those and maybe try to understand how many of them came about. Elvis must bear the blame for making some bad decisions, yet I have no anger or disgust at him for not always making the best choices.
Throughout his career Elvis performed so many different types of music, do you think that your reviews might reflect your own taste in music?
Mike Eder: One thing I would like to point out is that I am a huge fan of most any sort of rock, folk, blues, country, and gospel from the early fifties to the early seventies. I tend to focus on that one period of music history, but my tastes within that time are quite wide. I think that has put me in the unique position in that I like most of the styles Elvis tried. I have no hang up about him doing pop songs, if they are good pop songs. I like hard rock and I like love songs. It all depends on what I get from it myself.
Aside from the kind of historical factual information that a responsible writer does not let their own feelings color, I ignore other critics and try to tell the story that I get from the music personally. My own take on the whole Elvis Presley story is different than those that have been published before and I hope that’s why I have been able to gain readers over the years. I don’t want to come off like my tastes are more definitive than anyone else’s, I only want to make a case for what moves or doesn’t move me.
Elvis Music FAQ is for anyone who has been inspired by an Elvis Presley record. Following in the tradition of the FAQ series, in Elvis Music FAQ, a lot of rare information is woven together in one concise, entertaining package.
There are chapters about every year of Elvis’s career, including a look at his pioneering original record label Sun; insight on his management; the continued importance of television in his career; a summation of each Presley concert tour; the inside scoop about the role Elvis’s band members and songwriters played in his sound; stories about the amusing musical oddities created by those trying to ride on the Elvis success train; details about the contentious role drugs played in his career; and, finally, a full review of every record the King ever issued.