Rock Star Royalty: Remembering Lisa Marie Presley
"My love for music has been a part of me for as long as I can remember," said Presley.
When Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis’ only daughter and a dedicated keeper of her father’s legacy died last month at the age of 54, I reflected on the in-depth interview I did with her 10 years ago for Rock Cellar Magazine, over the phone from New York, where she had just performed at Carnegie Hall.
Presley was forthcoming about the price of fame and fortune, and why its important to surround yourself with positive people.
“The people you surround yourself with can make or break you,” said Presley. “I have seen it so many times and been around it. You don’t always realize it at the time, but certain people’s energy can be toxic and that toxicity can really mess with your life. And when someone is in your life and their intentions are not good, it can cause a lot of disturbance in your own life. For a while, you may think it’s just you, and sometimes it is, but sometimes it actually is the people around you.”
I asked Presley about her musical influences when it came to her songwriting and style of singing.
“It’s kind of strange, but the first thing I ever recorded in my life was an Aretha Franklin song,” she said. "So the first recording I ever made was a lot more soulful and different sounding than this rock thing I explored. I think because I was born and raised around country, blues, rock, gospel and everything else under the sun, it’s all been inside me my whole life. But now I tend to be more soulful.
“I think of myself as a singer-songwriter, so I really don’t listen to my voice that closely, and certainly not as much as I listen to the songs I’m writing. And because I’m a singer-songwriter, I really focus and put a lot of labor into writing the best songs I can and trying to make them universal. As for my voice, they just have to kind of work together. I certainly don’t think of myself as a brilliant singer by any standards, but I think my voice works well with my music and my songs.
“My songwriting has always been about purging and wrestling with demons. And everything that I’ve experienced in my life is covered in some way in my music. Everything has its place. I think as we get older, one of the biggest things we learn is to not to take things for granted, and to find better ways of handling stuff as it comes.”
Presley talked about living the celebrity life in the public eye as the daughter of Elvis Presley.
“There’s always opinions out there regarding how my life should have gone,” she said.
“Everything is very public as I navigate my way through this life. The mistakes I’ve made are public, and mistakes seem to be all that people want to know about.
“Some people are really quick to criticize and shoot you down and say, “Oh, look at this, you’ve got it so easy.” I know that’s how people have always looked at me. But I think I’ve shown them, and paved my way as a songwriter. I never wanted to go the easy route, and I found my way despite the fact there was always this push for me to do things in a certain way or be a certain way.
“When I’m promoting an album I understand that I have to be out there, and it requires a certain amount of attention and media. And that’s fine. But when I’m not doing this, it’s really important to me to have things completely different from being in the spotlight. And that’s how I was raised as my mom kept me away from the celebrity part of our life for long periods of time. That’s the way you keep your sanity, I think.
“Being Elvis’ daughter is a blessing. And though it’s had its challenges, it’s not anything I would change or take back. And I’m grateful for the really nice fan base I have, who I think know me pretty well, and this is all I ever wanted to do in my life.
“This is my creative outlet, and it’s the only creative outlet I have. Believe me, I wish I had others, but my love for music has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. My father was the first music I ever heard, and he’s been a huge influence on my life."