Tuesday, February 19, 2013


“Man, I remember one day at the Palm Springs house in Chino Canyon Road,” says Dave.  “It was hotter than hell, over a hundred degrees.  Anyway, Elvis wants to suddenly hop in the car and go down to the shopping area to load up on some stuff.  When he goes, everyone goes.  We all jam into this car.  There were four or five other guys along.  God, it was hot.  Elvis was talking about the power of metaphysics, although I’m not quite sure whether he knew the real definition of the word.  

“Anyway, the sky is desert clear, not a cloud in the sky except for this little tiny cloud a long way away, which was minding its own business. 

“Suddenly Elvis yells out, Stop the car.  I want to show you what I mean, Dave.  Now see that cloud?  I will show you what my powers really are. Now I want you all to watch.  All of you, look at that cloud.

“Well, we all look at the damn little cloud up there like a bunch of goatsElvis is staring a hole through the damn thing.  Well, the perspiration is dripping off us.  Not a sound in the car, just a whole lot of dummies dying of heat stroke looking up at the cloud.

“Im near dying and praying that the sonofabitch  would blow away. At the same time, I’m really having a problem not to burst out laughing.  Well, after about ten minutes, thank God, the damn thing dissipated a little. I mean, if you watch a single cloud, anyway after ten minutes, it will move or dissipate to some degree.

“I saved the day by noticing it first, and because I didn’t want to die of dehydration, I said, ‘Gee, Elvis, you’re right, it’s moving away.  That was just the right thing to say.  Old Elvis gave me one of those sly little smiles that told me he had done it again.I know, I moved it,’ he says.   Then we drove off.”

Joni Mitchell -- Clouds (Link)

Text:  Red West, Sonny West, Dave Hebler as told to Steve Dunleavy, Elvis:  What Happened?, New York, Ballantine Books, 1977.

Cloud Images:  Palm Springs, CA


  1. This made me go back and listen to both Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell's versions. What a difference. Collins has a magnificent voice. But. But. But. There is no comparison.

    By the way, members of my family have unabashedly indulged in Canut-ish thoughts such as Elvis's. An interest in metaphystics is never far away.

    1. It's a very good song indeed and I think that Joni Mitchell's version stands the test of time and is truer to the song's core than Judy's, which was deservedly a hit. That being said, my tolerance for Joni's music is limited to the first few records (especially the first) and only occasionally. But she's a great talent. (And Judy was a great talent spotter.) Elvis: What Happened? is worth seeking out if you don't own a copy. It's a huge story and the bodyguards' tale is an astonishing one. Curtis