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Elvis Presley's influence on Bruce Springsteen


By: Jay Lustig
Source: NJ Arts
December 31, 2017
Elvis Articles, Elvis Biography, Elvis News

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Many rock artists influenced Bruce Springsteen in a big way, including Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Van Morrison and Roy Orbison. But the primal, No. 1 influence - the place where it all started for him - was Elvis Presley.

I had never really thought about this, and might not have previously agreed with that statement, before watching 'If I Can Dream: The Influence of Elvis on Bruce', a new documentary compiled from previously existing footage by Dennis P. Laverty. Laverty, a former Old Bridge resident who now lives in Staten Island (and who calls Springsteen and Elvis Presley 'my two favorite rock stars'), uses concert footage and previously released interview segments with Springsteen and various rock experts to show just how important Elvis Presley was to Springsteen.

Elvis Presley Video If I Can Dream: The Influence of Elvis on Bruce

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Bruce Springsteen proudly displays an Elvis Presley fan club badge in a photo taken by Eric Meola. This outtake from the photo session for the 'Born to Run' album cover is seen in Dennis P. Laverty's new documentary, 'If I Can Dream: The Influence of Elvis on Bruce'.
Bruce Springsteen proudly displays an Elvis Presley fan club badge in a photo taken by Eric Meola
This outtake from the photo session for the 'Born to Run' album cover
is seen in Dennis P. Laverty's new documentary, 'If I Can Dream: The Influence of Elvis on Bruce'.

It started, of course, with Elvis Presley's first appearance on 'The Ed Sullivan Show', in 1956 (which Springsteen saw, at 6).

With that broadcast, Springsteen said in 2012, 'Television and Elvis gave us full access to a new language, a new form of communication, a new way of being, a new way of looking, a new way of thinking about sex, about race, about identity, about life, a new way of being an American (and) a human being, and a new way of hearing music'.

'Everything starts and ends with Elvis', Springsteen said, more succinctly, in 1978.

Springsteen has written a song for Elvis ('Fire') and a song about him ('Johnny Bye-Bye').

Laverty's 75-minute film covers also all of this, with lots of rarely seen, electrifying concert performances. It also explores the famous 1975 jumping-the-wall incident at Graceland (in which an over-eager Springsteen tried, unsuccessfully, to meet the King), the Elvis Presley concerts that Springsteen saw in person, and interesting tangents such as Patti Scialfa's song 'Looking for Elvis' and the reverence that Springsteen associates Jon Landau and Dave Marsh have for Elvis Presley.

The film also includes footage of Elvis Presley performing in concert and being interviewed, and ends with a look at some parallels in the lives of him and Springsteen.

Hardcore Southside Johnny fans were very appreciative of 'History of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes', and I think Springsteen fanatics are going to feel the same way about 'If I Can Dream'.

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Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.

Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.

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The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.