Elvis: We Love You Tender

Presley, Dee, Billy, Rick & David with Martin Torgoff; New English Library; 1980; 1981; ISBN: 0450051358; Softcover

David Neale once wrote of this book: "Do they? Did they? Highly forgettable. As much a self-agrandising effort on the part of Dee Presley as a book about Elvis. The Stanley brothers seem to have enjoyed their time with Elvis and one wonders if they fully realised what their mother was up to when she got them to work on this piece of nonsense."

The Sun newspaper said about the book: "Elvis as he really was...for the first time his close family have set downb the truth about the extraordinary man they loved as a son and a brother. Their story is funny, shocking and finally tragic."

EIN: While I don't fully agree with David Neale's view (and Elvis: We Love You Tender is certainly not the best book from Elvis' "second" family), it is an interesting one when considered in the light of subsequent books from members of the Stanley family and more recently the statements of David Stanley in several interviews, including two with EIN.

So what of Elvis: We Love You Tender? Undoubtedly it has that mass market paperback (tabloid if you prefer) feel about it. And a number of its stories have since been contradicted by the Stanley's themselves. But does this totally devalue what is in the book?

It can often be a mistake to focus solely on the weak and/or sensationalist points of a book. In so doing it is easy to miss other things that offer a greater insight into the subject.

Elvis: We Love You Tender is a book destined to be maligned, but a book that nevertheless offers much. If we can divest ourselves of prejudicial. jaundiced and emotionally charged views on the book, it is possible to peel away the layers of hyperbole and find many carats of gold that enrich our understanding of Elvis Aaron Presley. And the insights traverse both positive and negative issues.

Elvis on the emotional needs of women:

"Elvis Presley often spoke to his brothers about the special emotional needs of women and how they never got enough credit for the wonders they bring to the world and the struggles they face. He believed that God put women on the earth to be, well, women - to be put on that golden pedestal where they could best be respected, exalted, and loved. How he managed to lose the most important woman in his life will always remain a painful irony to all who knew him."

Therein that passage lies the real flaw with Elvis: We Love You Tender. The subject matter has merit and bears examination in the Elvis story, but Martin Torgoff's "tabloid" manipulation of the facts stretches them until the connotation becomes almost derisory.

If one takes the time to accept a natural narrative bias towards its authors and dig within the pages of the book, there is a rich vein to be mined. Life growing up at Graceland, Vernon and Dee's differing sex needs, an underlying tension between Elvis and Dee, and the impact of Freddie Prinze's suicide on Elvis are just some of the many interesting stories and issues that expand our knowledge of the Elvis story.

Verdict: Elvis: We Love You Tender suffers from the same malady as Elvis: What Happened? Its tabloid representation of the Elvis Presley story emphasising sensationalism over analysis and prosaic explanation means few will take the time to explore beneath its politically incorrect narrative to identify the many truths and insights it offers.

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Read EIN's reviews of David Stanley's other books about Elvis:

Life With Elvis

Raised On Rock Growing Up at Graceland

The Elvis Encyclopedia


Interviews with David Stanley:

David Stanley talks to EIN (2004)

David Stanley talks to Madeleine Wilson (2003)

David Stanley talks to EIN (2002)

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