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Boston Herald, May 2005
If the daughter of Elvis Presleyand former wife of Michael Jackson doesn't know about gossip journalism, who does?
"It makes me ill,'' Lisa Marie Presley says. "People are celebrities now for God-knows-what. It's completely insane. It's more out of control than it's ever been. And I'm talking to you as one. It's disgusting.''
Presley unleashes her feelings about the subject musically on her new CD, "Now What,'' by covering Don Henley's '80s hit "Dirty Laundry.'' Now she's on tour in support of the album. She performs at the Paradise Sunday — coincidentally the same night that a two-part "Elvis'' biographical miniseries begins (WBZ-TV, Ch. 4, 8 p.m.), kicking off what CBS has dubbed "Elvis Week.''
Or is it coincidence?
Elvis' 37-year-old only child is busy advancing her late-blooming musical career just as a major push of Presley product is under way. A documentary, ``Elvis By the Presleys,'' prominently featuring Lisa Marie and her mother, Priscilla, airs May 13 on CBS. A spinoff coffee-table book and double-CD set, both with the same title, are already in stores, with the inevitable deluxe DVD to follow.
"It's a perfect storm of Elvis'' the marketing director for Elvis Presley Enterprises in Memphis boasted to The New York Times.
Ka-ching. Time for Lisa Marie to cash in?
"It's pure coincidence,'' she says by cellphone while traveling on her tour bus crossing her home state of Tennessee. "It really is. I don't have anything to do with this miniseries. I haven't seen it, don't know anything about it.
"I do know about the documentary. We were involved in that. But the timing was a fluke because it was supposed to come out before Thanksgiving and it got postponed until now. I at least got in a little bit of a (tour) run before all this happened.''
Presley knows that her last name always will be catnip to Elvis fanatics. But beneath her tough-chick exterior lies a touching determination, however unrealistic, to succeed or fail on her own merits and not her family name.
"The first tour was a nightmare as far as I was concerned,'' she says. "But I think the gawk factor, the novelty factor, is over. I think I broke through a lot of that. I'll never break through it entirely, but the people who come to my shows who are my fans are a lot more predominant now.''
Likely this is the result of Elvis fans' discovering that Lisa Marie's music is not much like her dad's.
Her first album, 2003's "To Whom It May Concern,'' presented a raw singer-songwriter defanged by commercial pop/rock arrangments. On "Now What,'' a more assured Presley comes on like a combination Pat Benatar/Avril Lavigne. Most of the songs were co-written by professional song doctor Linda Perry, known for her hits with Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani and Pink, who joins Presley on backup vocals on one track. It's a bit too polished and produced to be genuinely exciting, but Presley flashes an intriguing rebel streak with her four-letter-word-laced lyrics and nods to punk rock. Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones plays on two cuts, including a hidden track cover of the Ramones' "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow.''
"(The late) Johnny Ramone was a very good friend of mine,'' Presley says. "One of my best friends actually. He wanted me to do that song years ago, but I didn't get around to it. So as he was passing away I told him I was going to do it and I wanted him to play on it. But he died the day we layed the track down.
"I used to be a huge Sex Pistols fan, so I was really excited to have Steve Jones play on my record. I met him through Johnny at Johnny's house. Two punk rock diva musos.''
Aside from the two cover songs, Presley wrote all the lyrics on "Now What.'' Her writing ranges from verbally savaging a much despised ``Idiot'' to a misty tribute to her mother from a somewhat apologetic daughter on ``Raven.'' Fans find inspiration in her words, she says.
"When I put out my first record,'' Presley says, "it was too much pressure. I had to go through so much in terms of explaining myself that it probably would not have been worth it to go on.''
That was when the daughter of Elvis and former wife of Michael Jackson discovered that her life was not so unusual that listeners could not relate to what she was going through.
"I started getting letters from people,'' Presley says, "telling me what my songs and lyrics have done for them at different points in their lives. My music moved people. I get their stories and letters all the time. Every night actually. And it keeps me going. It combats the BS and the excess criticism and the pressure and all that stuff. It's given me the confidence I needed.''
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