Lisa Marie Presley turned her new music video "I Love You Because" into a family affair. Elvis Presley fans will cherish hearing her sing with her late father and seeing home movie footage of the King, as well as his grandchildren.
Elvis Presley recorded "I Love You Because" in 1954 at the Sun Records studio in Memphis, Tenn. His daughter added her vocals recently in Santa Monica, Calif., after consulting with producer T Bone Burnett who presented her with the idea of "I Love You Because" as a special song for her fans.
To support her recent album, Storm & Grace, Lisa Marie Presley will begin a two-week national tour beginning Nov. 1 in Tunica, Miss. In the meantime, the special video for "I Love You Because" was intended to be viewed only by the 25,000 fans attending an annual Elvis Presley tribute concert in Memphis, but she agreed to share it with CMT. In addition to footage of her parents, the video also features her 4-year-old twin girls Finley and Harper, 19-year-old Benjamin and 23-year-old daughter Riley in never-before-seen family photos.
"Every five years, I try to do something special for the fans as a tribute," she said during a summer visit to CMT. "I thought, 'OK, I really want to focus on the fact that I think his spirit lives in his grandchildren -- very much.' I thought it would be special for the fans to see that -- to focus the attention on that -- which made it intimate and sweet, because the song is like that. It felt really right."
And how would she describe that spirit?
"Just 'him,'" she replies. "They've all got a little bit of him in them. They all have their own little traits, and I can just sense it, you know?"
In this interview, Presley chats about her Grand Ole Opry debut, her Southern roots and her fondness for country music -- especially Hee Haw.
When I saw your son in the video, I had to catch my breath. He looks so much like Elvis. Does he get that reaction a lot?
Presley: He does! He was at the Opry and was the quiet storm behind the stage! (laughs) Everybody turned around and looked when he was over there. Everybody was grabbing him for a photo because it is just uncanny. Sometimes I am overwhelmed when I look at him.
Why did the offer to sing on the Opry appeal to you? Why was it important for you to be there?
Because I grew up in Memphis, so I know about the Grand Ole Opry and I know about Hee Haw. I'm an admirer of both and always have been. I know the history of it, and it was an honor to be asked, to be honest. I was terrified, but I did it! (laughs)
If Hee Haw was still on, you could have jumped out of the cornfield.
If Hee Haw was still on, I would have been so excited. I loved that show. We did a press conference in the soundstage [where it was filmed]. I was really excited about that actually.
How much has country music influenced the music you're making now?
I grew up with country music. I was a huge fan of Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Alabama, Lee Greenwood, Barbara Mandrell, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams, all of them. I think when you grow up with it, it's always there. And where I'm from, it's always in you. That's just a natural thing.
How often are you in Nashville?
I'm not here very often. I'm in Memphis a lot, but I don't get here enough. I drove in from Memphis. I've been here a few times. I played the Ryman a few years ago. I've come through on tour. A few years ago, someone brought me here to possibly get a deal and do a record here. I felt it was a little too contrived for me. I didn't want it to be something forced. I wanted it to be something natural. If something is too contrived, I won't do it.
Can you hear the Southern influence in the music you're making?
Yes, I can hear it. It's in me. I'm proud of my Southern roots, without question.
What is it about Southern music that really attracts you and intrigues you?
Just the honesty. The songwriting is so honest and usually gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. Incredible storytelling. That's the job of great singer-songwriters. That for sure influenced me.
What's a typical day for you now? Are you living in England?
I'm back and forth. We're kind of being gypsies at the moment. Someone asked us that earlier and we giggled because they asked us, "Where do you live?" and I said, "Wherever we are." We're L.A. and England, back and forth, mostly.
So this record will have a long life then.
Because it's not a mainstream record. It's not a pop record. So it's one of those things where you go with it and follow it where it's going. We're just going wherever it leads. There's not a big plan. It's just to work it. We all kind of knew it was going to require work.
So when somebody asks you what the album sounds like or what kind of music you're making, do you find it hard to answer that?
I kind of just come up with this Americana/bluesy/rootsy record. It's more raw and a more vulnerable record. That's the only way I can describe it, really. It's not anything specific. It has elements of everything.
Has it always been a dream of yours to make records?
I've always loved music and I've always loved writing. So I've written my whole life and started songwriting in my early 20s. It's always been an outlet for me. This is my third record, and it's something that I love doing.
What is it about writing that satisfies you?
I think it helps me purge whatever demons and trouble. ... It helps me process things and exorcise things that are going on or that I've seen or that I've heard. And I try to take that and phrase it in such a way that other people can relate to it and make it universal. Like when somebody puts a name in a song, sometimes I'm like, "Aargh! Too much information!" I want the listener to make it their own.
Are there any other music projects you're working on?
No, at the moment we're just working this record.
Do you have a dream record that you'd like to make someday?
No, I'm really proud of this one, I have to say.