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Comments - Artists

Alley Gator says:
02/23/12 8:52 pm
Elvis Presley's cultural and emotional impact on white kids coming of age in the 1950s is hard to overstate. His early records sounded new and exciting, and his looks and moves oozed sexuality. Girls swooned over him and boys wanted to be like him. In the world of pop, he epitomized rock & roll.

Then Elvis went into the army, made too many Hollywood movies, and staged a too-brief comeback in 1968 before he lost his edge and then his life in 1976. Since then he's been mythologized.

I still love listening to dozens of Elvis recordings, mainly but not exclusively from his pre-army years. What a beautiful and expressive voice he had! It's hard to pick just one favorite. My short list includes Mystery Train, Heartbreak Hotel, Hound Dog, Don't Be Cruel, Jailhouse Rock, and Love Me.

What are your favorite Elvis songs? Does he still resonate with you today?

(Elvis was our Featured Artist for the week of February 24, 2012.)

barbara ann 1945 says:
02/24/12 8:39 pm
Alley Gator said: Elvis Presley's cultural and emotional impact on white kids coming of age in the 1950s is hard to overstate. His early records sounded new and exciting, and his looks and moves oozed sexuality. Girls swooned over him and boys wanted to be like him. In the world of pop, he epitomized rock & roll. Then Elvis went into the army, made too many Hollywood movies, and staged a too-brief comeback in 1968 before he lost his edge and then his life in 1976. Since then he's been mythologized. I still love listening to dozens of Elvis recordings, mainly but not exclusively from his pre-army years. What a beautiful and expressive voice he had! It's hard to pick just one favorite. My short list includes Mystery Train, Heartbreak Hotel, Hound Dog, Don't Be Cruel, Jailhouse Rock, and Love Me. What are your favorite Elvis songs? Does he still resonate with you today?
Oh, yes! Elvis still resonates with me today. I remember watching some sort of Elvis retrospective years ago and a woman saying, "No matter what happened to Elvis, he never lost his beautiful voice." Even listening to stuff he recorded during his last year of life, I am aware of the exquisite quality and pathos of that voice.

I was just about to add Baby Let's Play House to my existing "Songs that Stir Me" list when I read this Elvis entry. That song, Love Me and Don't thrill me today. I'll never forget the impact of hearing Heartbreak Hotel the first time. My pre-teen heart jumped up and down inside me. I listen to The Sun Sessions several times a year along with Elvis' Gold Records. From the later years I have a weakness for Suspicious Minds and, yep, You Were Always On My Mind. (I HATE the Willie Nelson version!)

Great topic....always more to say about Elvis.
MustangSal says:
02/26/12 4:06 am
I was a bit too young to be aware of Elvis as a teen, but when I became aware of him later, I completely "got" why he was such a heart throb. I do think his voice had as much to do with the impact as those dark, soulful eyes and those swivel hips. The emotion you heard felt honest.

Going back to revisit his discography is on my to-do list, because I know there are many songs I haven't heard. Of the ones I do know, "Suspicious Minds" and "Jailhouse Rock" are favorites.
jere1911 says:
02/26/12 11:58 am
I remember seeing him on that first Ed Sullivan show, but unless I am imagining it, I saw him once before that on television. Was it a Milton Berle special? Can someone verify that memory? Completely captivated me, and probably was a big reason I eventually started playing the guitar. As I look back on the recordings, I have mixed feelings. I think Elvis was one of the great singers of all time but not one of the great song pickers. Wouldn't we have loved more Sun material and, even in the RCA pre-Army period, a little less "Teddy Bear" and the like. When he had good material, like "Don't Be Cruel" and "Jailhouse" or a truly great ballad like "Don't," he was unsurpassable in infectious expression. And if I have to listen to the lesser material, I'd certainly prefer to hear Elvis making the most of it to some other singer.

Now when I say "song picker" that opens a whole subject of "whether he had a choice" and what it means to "have a choice". Hard to imagine that he could continue with the Sun stuff after signing with RCA and becoming a "pop" star, for example. And we know he was locked in to movie contracts. But without getting into his psyche, about which I am no expert whatsoever, one wonders about whether a star of his magnitude couldn't have and wouldn't have influenced choice of material. I say "yes" and go back to "song picker". I welcome other thoughts. Am I at least right that the ratio of greatness of material to greatness of singer was relatively low in the case of Elvis?
catfish says:
02/28/12 10:45 pm
I thought Colonel Parker made all the decisions.
jere1911 says:
02/29/12 4:21 pm
catfish said: I thought Colonel Parker made all the decisions.
Perhaps Parker did, but does anyone know whether bios of Elvis reveal anything about his choice of material, who made it, what Elvis really thought of it? I gather that he was not happy about all the movies and perhaps much of the song material in them (though I do like some of them, movies more than the songs). Did he want to do different types of songs but got shot down by Parker? Do folks disagree with my premise about the quality of much of his "song book?"
Alley Gator says:
02/29/12 7:13 pm
catfish said: I thought Colonel Parker made all the decisions.
jere1911 said: Perhaps Parker did, but does anyone know whether bios of Elvis reveal anything about his choice of material, who made it, what Elvis really thought of it? ... Did he want to do different types of songs but got shot down by Parker? Do folks disagree with my premise about the quality of much of his "song book?"
I don't believe you can infer anything about Elvis's personal song choices because his relationship with The Colonel so dominated the situation.

I've read Guralnick's Last Train to Memphis, Leiber & Stoller's Hound Dog, and much of Ken Sharp's Writing for the King, the stories of Elvis's songwriters. Essentially, the deal brokered by Colonel Parker that brought Elvis to RCA included virtually a "right of first refusal," including financial incentives, for songs published by Hill & Range. Prior to becoming a film star ("Love Me Tender," fall 1956), Elvis pushed back somewhat against Parker on song selection. He also loved Leiber & Stoller, leading Parker to force them out after "King Creole." Both before and after that, Elvis chose songs from the Hill & Range schlock presented to him through Parker. It wasn't until his 1968 "comeback" that he pushed back against Parker again and made some better choices.
jere1911 says:
03/01/12 12:47 am
catfish said: I thought Colonel Parker made all the decisions.
jere1911 said: Perhaps Parker did, but does anyone know whether bios of Elvis reveal anything about his choice of material, who made it, what Elvis really thought of it? ... Did he want to do different types of songs but got shot down by Parker? Do folks disagree with my premise about the quality of much of his "song book?"
Alley Gator said: I don't believe you can infer anything about Elvis's personal song choices because his relationship with The Colonel so dominated the situation. I've read Guralnick's Last Train to Memphis, Leiber & Stoller's Hound Dog, and much of Ken Sharp's Writing for the King, the stories of Elvis's songwriters. Essentially, the deal brokered by Colonel Parker that brought Elvis to RCA included virtually a "right of first refusal," including financial incentives, for songs published by Hill & Range. Prior to becoming a film star ("Love Me Tender," fall 1956), Elvis pushed back somewhat against Parker on song selection. He also loved Leiber & Stoller, leading Parker to force them out after "King Creole." Both before and after that, Elvis chose songs from the Hill & Range schlock presented to him through Parker. It wasn't until his 1968 "comeback" that he pushed back against Parker again and made some better choices.
Very interesting. Especially that he did push back. And he did release a few good tracks near the end. The "break" in Suspicious Minds shows Elvis at his soulful best, doesn't it? Wish he could have done more of that!