Single Review: Lisa Marie Presley “Lights Out”

Lights Out
Album: To Whom It May Concern
Year: 2003

The daughter of Elvis. Ex-wife of the self-proclaimed King of Pop, Michael Jackson and paycheck actor, Nicolas Cage. On her website, Presley said “this album is me.”

Written by Glen Ballard, Cliff Magness, and Presley, “Lights Out,” the only single from her debut album finds her coming to terms with her morality and father’s absence. Her father is a distance from her. A distance she wanted by running away from him. Distraught and regretting her anger, she still thinks of home as Memphis instead of Los Angeles (“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”).

Presley notices her home, which is tourist stop, has been darkened and closed for the evening. For her, it’s not a musuem or a store. It’s an actual place for her with memories.(“Someone turned the lights out there in Memphis/That’s where my family’s buried and gone”). Like her father who is buried there and has strange people visiting, so will she. She will become a part of the legacy. (“Last time I was there I noticed a space left/Next to them there in Memphis/In the damn back lawn”).

Her spot was put there without her knowing about it. Seeing her own grave rattles her. It’s still home. (“I didn’t know that I was in the crowd…Everything on my shelf has fallen/I still keep my watch two hours behind”).

Going back home to Memphis was something she needed to do (“Was that bridge I was crossing”). But it’s a journey she’s begun yet never finished until now (“Somewhere I stopped walking/I guess I fell off on my own”).

Everyone in her life told her coming back was inevitable. But she’s taken the wrong road there. (“I heard all the roads they lead to Memphis/Except for the one I’m stumbling down”). She references someone or something. But without any context, it’s unclear what it’s about (“And I’ll be damned if I ever get this little son of a bitch from Memphis”). Her life is in Memphis and that fact hasn’t left her (“Well it’s all there I guess/And I haven’t forgot”).

While Presley may say “this album is me,” the listener isn’t offered to get to know her. Every time she talks about her father, she holds back. After the first verse, Presley shuts out her audience and only gives them guarded, sanitized lyrics.

Her coarse, husky voice is similar to her father’s, especially when she sings in the lower register. It’s eerie.

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