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Her Presley Roots Radiate From Lights Out

By Bill Ellis, January 16, 2003 | Other
That voice coming over FM 100, the one that could be a huskier Sheryl Crow, is Lisa Marie Presley, whose single Lights Out has been getting advance spins by the station.

"We got a leaked copy of the song last week," says Chris Taylor, program director for the Hot Adult Contemporary radio station (WMC-FM 99.7).

"I was hearing rumblings it was heard in other cities. . . . We finally got a copy a couple days ago, and played it on the morning show. We challenged listeners to guess the artist and 99 percent of the people guessed who it was, all except one guy who thought it was Pink."

The song is the slated lead single for Presley's coming debut album, "To Whom It May Concern," which has been given an April 8 release date by the album's label Capitol Records.

Delivered in a roots rock vein, Lights Out is a song that seems to address Lisa Marie's feelings about being the daughter of Elvis Presley; Lisa Marie is Presley's only child. Among its lyrics is a chorus that states: "Someone turned the lights out there in Memphis / That's where my family's buried and gone." To hear a snippet of the song, click below.

Taylor said the single was serviced to FM 100 on Tuesday, though the station sneaked it beginning last Friday. It is in new music rotation, meaning it gets a few spins daily, a good reaction given that FM 100's target audience is not typically Elvis-crazy.

"People have been anticipating what it must sound like because of who she is," he says. "It's edgy enough, pop enough, adult enough that if she were going to showcase to the world who she is, this is a good direction."

Taylor says that according to radio monitoring service MediaBase, FM 100 was the first station to play Lights Out nationally. Other stations locally are considering playing it, including the Memphis Pig (WMPS-FM 107.5).

"We're looking at it," says Pig program director Steve Richards. "It's a good-sounding record and it has a lot of Memphis references."

Former Memphis and Shelby County Music Commission president Jerry Schilling, who managed Lisa Marie for several years in the early '90s, heard FM 100 play the song and was pleased at the result.

"Since she was 6 years old, Lisa has had music in her soul," says Schilling. "(Elvis-backing vocalists) The Sweet Inspirations used to bring her records and she would listen like an artist. I would see her in her room putting the needle back on the parts she wanted to hear."

Schilling says Lisa Marie, 34, shied away from a career in music for years, one reason being the perception of living up to her father's legendary legacy. Nevertheless, Lisa Marie had several offers on the table in the early '90s, including a production deal at one label that Schilling says he snagged without using her name "to make sure that what I was hearing was good."

"We were closing a deal at Epic Records and we had a firm offer from RCA," continues Schilling. "And she called me and said, 'I can't sign the deal.' I said, 'What do you mean?' I thought she was kidding. She said, 'Jerry, I just can't do it, and you'll know why.'

"And a couple of days later she married Michael Jackson."

Lisa Marie married Jackson in 1994. They divorced less than two years later in 1996. Her third marriage, to actor Nicolas Cage, ended in November after mere months.

Lisa Marie announced her singing talents at the Mid-South Coliseum's "Elvis in Concert '97." There, she sang a combined live/video duet with her filmed father a la the Natalie Cole/Nat King Cole song Unforgettable. Lisa Marie then gave fans a preview of her album - a self-penned tribute to her father, Nobody Noticed It - that was part of last year's spectacle, "Elvis - The Concert," at The Pyramid.

Lisa Marie signed with Glen Ballard to his Capitol imprint Java Records in 1998. Ballard, a Natchez native and Ole Miss grad, is best known for his work with Alanis Morissette, but has an extensive list of credentials from Aerosmith and Michael Jackson to No Doubt and Christina Aguilera.

Ballard did not produce "To Whom It May Concern," though he shows up as a songwriter on several tracks (notably Lights Out). Lisa Marie also co-wrote several tunes with first husband Danny Keough and former Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan.

Lisa Marie is principal lyricist on the record, which includes such song titles as The Road Between, Gone, Indifferent, Excuse Me, To Whom It May Concern, So Lovely, SOB, Savior and Better Beware.

"I'm so happy for her," says Schilling. "I don't care if she has great success or no success. I think it's important for her as a human being to give it a shot. But I think she's going to be huge because she can sing."

Lyrics of 'Lights Out'. Written by Lisa Marie Presley, Glen Ballard and Clif Magness; lyrics by Lisa Marie Presley.

You were a million miles behind
And I was crying every time I'd leave you
Then I didn't want to see you
I still keep my watch two hours behind

Someone turned the lights out there in Memphis
That's where my family's buried and gone
Last time I was there I noticed a space left
Next to them there in Memphis
In the damn back lawn

I didn't know that I was in the crowd
And the fresh cut grass stopped growing
Everything on my shelf has fallen
I still keep my watch two hours behind

Someone turned the lights out there in Memphis
That's where my family's buried and gone
Last time I was there I noticed a space left
Next to them there in Memphis
In the damn back lawn

Was that bridge I was crossing
Somewhere I stopped walking
I guess I fell off on my own

I heard all the roads they lead to Memphis
Except for the one I'm stumbling down
And I'll be damned if I ever get this little son of a bitch from Memphis
Well it's all there I guess
And I haven't forgot

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