Reclaiming Elvis Presley

I read a piece in The Guardian online earlier this year that stayed with me.  It said that the value of Elvis Presley memorabilia has plummeted, mainly due to the fact that original Presley fans were dying, with their Elvis-related belongings subsequently flooding the market.

Now I don’t give a damn about Elvis memorabilia, but the article struck me because it brought home to me that an entire generation, the generation that discovered The King, will soon be with him, in the great Vegas theatre in the sky.  Those who were there when Elvis broke through, who experienced the thrill of discovering that voice, that performer, that personality, will soon no longer be around.  When that happens, will Elvis’ impact, influence, and indeed, music, begin to fade from the public consciousness?  It would seem that’s already happening.

Think about it: how many artists these days cite Elvis Presley as an influence?  I’ve not come across any, certainly in the Rock/Pop genre.  And that’s a pity.  Sure, he wrote bugger-all songs, but what about the voice?  The delivery? What about the electrifying live performances like this one:

I was lucky – in our house growing up, we were fed a steady diet of Elvis, Johnny Cash, and, er, Jim Reeves.  We were aware of Elvis as a towering presence in music. I guess this is how it works across the board – the original fans pass the music on to the next generation, and so on.  But the Guardian article finished on this point:

“[I]f you consider events in recent years, such as the haphazard sale of the Elvis Presley estate, and Cirque du Soleil’s Viva Elvis show in Las Vegas closing after just two years (the first show in the troupe’s history to finish early), it seems to be part of a larger issue. One of a once-immovable object in pop culture beginning to slip out of view”.

It seems that people just don’t care about Elvis the way they used to.  And that’s really really sad.  Thankfully, as I mentioned in last week’s New Music Post, it’s struck me that these days, when people think of Elvis, they think more and more about his music, and less about the Hamburger/Weight/Toilet triumvirate of his later years.  Is that because we’re tired of the cheap shots at an easy target, or is it because nowadays, Elvis just isn’t in the consciousness of the public at large?  Hard to tell.

For years, Presley’s talent and influence has played second fiddle to the ‘Elvis Industry’, which supplies shite like this for sale:









Were Kurt Cobain to be treated in this way, there’d be uproar, as though his decline and tragic death were something to poke fun at.  It’s time to finally accord Elvis Presley the respect he deserves, and to think of him primarily in terms of his contribution to popular music.  Let’s stop cheapening him, his life, and his immense talent.

With that in mind, this week, his 40th Anniversary, we thought it appropriate to do our tiny bit to promote the music of The King.  Below is a playlist comprised primarily of what you might call ‘Deep Cuts’ from the Presley catalogue.  Pour a cold one, raise a glass, and play it in full.  Marvel at his range, his interpretation of the music, and his passion for what he sings.

And if you’ve got kids, play it for your kids.