Presley talks tour, ‘Storm & Grace’
It takes more than a multi-city tour across the United States for Lisa Marie Presley to come back home.
Forever a daughter of the South, her roots may precede, even overshadow her, but the daughter of the world’s most famous entertainer knows and is proud of who she is. Just don’t expect her to sing “Hound Dog” or “Love Me Tender.”
Presley is scheduled to wrap up the third leg of her tour Nov. 24 in Vermont after releasing her third album “Storm & Grace” last spring. Between stops in Texas and taking care of 4-year-old twin girls who are with her on the road, the mother of four, wife and singer/songwriter took time to visit with the Guard days before her appearance in Little Rock last week.
Saturday would find her on stage in Memphis where Elvis made his first billed live performance 59 years ago at what was then known as the Overton Park Shell. The connection is one many Elvis fans might consider historic but it’s one Presley chooses not to think about — at least not in the moment.
“I cannot think about things like that. I’m very technical when I’m working. … I can’t get nostalgic,” she said.
It’s not that she doesn’t care or know the significance. It’s that she does, but the very thought is overwhelming. It was the same when she found herself performing on the Grand Ole Opry last year, knowing how not only her father but so many greats have graced the stage of the home of country music. After all she too grew up with Johnny Cash and “Hee Haw.”
“I feel like I’ll get emotional,” Presley, 45, said. “I don’t think about what my songs are about sometimes. I have to be professional and technical, as boring as that sounds; that means I’m thinking about the sound, my levels, the band’s levels. Sometimes if I think about things like that, it can overwhelm me. I try not to get too involved. I just try to do my thing.”
And that seems to have proven well.
Her fans are all ages and from all walks of life, those curious because of who she is and those with no preconceived notion who only like what she has to say. For Presley, who writes her own songs, “Storm & Grace” is the record in which she believes she can be heard.
“It’s a much more intimate record. In the past my records were much more harsh (rockier and edger),” she said, describing the bluesy, folksy, Americana album as “simplified and organic.”
And the venues match that. You won’t find her performing in stadiums that seat thousands, night after night. “It’s quieter… but the record, the songs are a lot more intimate and quieter.”
Presley has always been a writer. From a very young age she wrote poems and in her early 20s wrote her first song. For her, the music comes before the lyrics, she told a VIP crowd during soundcheck in Little Rock.
“Soften the Blows” and “So Long” are two from “Storm & Grace” she feels she got right and they are her favorites.
In “So Long” Presley, who has admitted in other interviews that she had to break away from people and surroundings that were doing more harm then good, sings: “These roads they don’t lead to anything/These people they talk, they say nothing/Actors they don’t have a part/Heartfelt people with no heart/I’ll find a new crowd, make a new start/Farewell, fair-weathered friends/I can’t say I’ll miss you in the end.”
“Sometimes I capture things well when I’m writing,” she explained, believing these two are ones in which she got across a point exactly how she wanted. “Sometimes I get it really, really right — through the whole song — and those songs I feel like I got it pretty good.”
Not one to necessarily keep a note pad by the bed, Presley makes time to write. “I go in with something, I make sure I come out with something. It could be five hours, it could be three hours.” “Weary,” for instance, took 30 minutes. “It can happen really fast.”
Presley admits she loves being on tour, which also includes as she calls him, musical director/guitar player/husband (of seven years) and father “extraordinaire,” Michael Lockwood. For this tour she has also partnered with World Vision, a nonprofit organization that works to help children in third-world countries receive basic necessities through sponsorships.
“Every night is different. Every night is a challenge,” she said. “Every night I have to find my relationship with the audience. The energy is different every night. People are different every night.”
She found the Arkansas crowd to be just as rowdy if not more than those in Texas, taking to her Twitter account to comment on how charming Little Rock is, how much she loves the South and telling the crowd she knew she was getting deeper into the South when “I saw banana pudding on the menu.”
While there’s no mistaking the Presley genes and at times mannerisms characteristic of her father, for Lisa Marie they only come natural, but being the daughter of a cultural icon known for his stage presence doesn’t mean she doesn’t get nervous.
“I’m really sensitive to everyone’s energy,” she said, commenting on her pre-show routine. “I try to keep it minimal — what’s going on around me — and keep it focused.” That includes having honey and throat lozenges nearby and warming up her voice. “Not eating four hours before I go out, and figuring out what my ‘last meal’ is going to be,” she said with a laugh.
She knows some will buy tickets to her show expecting her to perform as a tribute to Elvis, to “fill” his shoes. She knows she can’t. She wouldn’t think of trying. Finding her own place in the spotlight, however, is cathartic and if her music speaks to others and they feel a connection, well, then she’s better for it.
“Why I sing, why I write is because of them.”