Lisa Marie Presley
9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Gold Strike Casino, 1010 Casino Center Drive in Tunica Resorts, Miss. Tickets: $24.95 and $29.95, available at the casino gift shop, by phone at 888-747-7711, and through Ticketmaster. For more information, call 662-357-1111, or visit goldstrike.com.
This Halloween, residents of one undisclosed Memphis neighborhood got a thrill when they opened their door for trick-or-treaters only to find the daughter of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, standing before them.
"I'm going dressed as a coroner," Lisa Marie Presley said earlier this week of her scheduled trip to her hometown to take her youngest daughters, twins Harper Vivienne Ann and Finley Aaron Love, trick-or-treating with their cousins, a bit of normalcy sandwiched into a schedule that also included appearances in Nashville at the BMI Awards (Tuesday) and the CMA Awards (Thursday), and the kickoff of her tour with shows Friday and Saturday at the Gold Strike Casino's Millennium Theater in Tunica.
Juxtaposing extremes — the warm glow of family life and the bright lights of celebrity, Memphis and Nashville — is nothing new for Presley, 44. Self-admittedly shy and reserved, she nevertheless has lived her entire life under the glaring eye of the public.
"I don't like attention on me," she said. "It's a strange dichotomy. When I'm singing and I'm doing my own music, that's one thing. … But if it's just talking and it's live television, I'm always a nervous wreck."
It is perhaps a good thing, then, that Presley finally did follow her father into music, where at least she could counterbalance the constant demands on her attention with the calm she experiences when she is onstage belting out one of her songs.
Presley was a relative latecomer to music, recording her first album, 2003's To Whom It May Concern, at age 35. In an effort to escape the shadow of her famous father, that record and its 2005 follow-up, Now What, were both cast in an aggressively contemporary, slick, modern rock sound, a decision Presley now says was born more out of insecurity than artistry.
"I was the one instigating all the production on those records to hide behind because I was terrified," she said. "I'm not critical of the songs. ... What I think I was critical of was the overproduction of them."
On her latest album, the May release Storm & Grace, Presley says she has found her true musical direction, a more relaxed, introspective, folksy sound that recalls her father in spirit. The change in direction was born out of eight months she spent in England in 2009 writing songs with tunesmiths like Jimmy Hogarth, Ed Harcourt and Richard Hawley, formerly of the band Pulp. Then, to help realize her new vision, Presley turned to one of the biggest producers working, T-Bone Burnett.
"He is incredibly inspiring. I'm even more in awe of him than I was before we met," Presley said. "He grants a lot of freedom. He's an incredible conductor and knows exactly what he's doing."
Presley recorded 16 songs live in the studio with Burnett, including the 11 originals that make up Storm & Grace. But for one song, Burnett had Presley dig all the way back to the beginning of Elvis' career. Presley was looking for something special to present at last August's FedExForum concert commemorating the 35th anniversary of her father's death, when Burnett suggested she perform a duet of "I Love You Because," a Leon Payne country ballad that Elvis recorded in his first Sun sessions in 1954.
Presleyassembled the track and an accompanying video, featuring family images that span three generations, in just four days. The song has been released as a single, and the video is online.
"I was drawn to how intimate and sweet it was," she said. "It seemed very appropriate. I wanted to focus on his spirit and his grandchildren. I was just trying to make a touching tribute."