Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A day of commemoration

It's 29 years today since Elvis died. Twenty-nine years! Gosh, I still remember finding out early in the morning. I wasn't an Elvis fan at the time, but my dad was -- a big one.

Elvis's death marked the beginning of my interest in him, just as it was for my brother, who remains a huge fan to this day. I diversified perhaps a little more, and within three years (1980, at the age of 10) I was into the Pistols (a little late, I know, since they'd already disbanded long before then), which was the start of a different musical journey.

Still, Elvis holds a special place in my heart, and I still play his music from time to time, but very rarely anything recorded after those first two or three years, 1954 to 1957. Occasionally the '68 Comeback Special -- a return to glory.

Elvis was the catalyst for all that came after in "popular music". And people can bang on all they like about how he simply stole black music. Maybe he did; but very few others were. That is innovation, my friend. And they can talk till they're blue in the face about how he wrote very few of his own songs and that he sold out and whatever else. All true, perhaps. But at the outset, in 1954, when he drove a truck and had long greasy hair and wore mascara, he was as subversive a motherfucker as you were likely to meet.

As Quentin Tarantino put it, in the mouth of True Romance's Clarence Worley: "In Jailhouse Rock he's everything rockabilly's about. I mean, he is rockabilly: mean, surly, nasty, rude. In that movie, he couldn't give a fuck about anything except rockin' and rollin', livin' fast, dyin' young, and leaving a good-looking corpse."

And after all the pretenders and would-be usurpers, when all is said and done, there's still only one king.

Rest in peace, big guy. 'Nuff said.



Blogger Tanya said...


16 August, 2006 10:54  
Blogger mister anchovy said...

A couple years ago, Tuffy and I visited Memphis, which included visits to both Graceland and the old Sun Studios. Graceland - I'm glad I visited. Sun Studios was very interesting to me, because it was the place where that early rockabilly sound was developed. Memphis also has the Stax museum...there was a lot of music going on in that little city. Last year, we took another road trip down to both Nashville and Memphis, with Candy and Stagg. We spent an afternoon in a wreck of a cemetery in South Memphis called the Hollywood, looking for Furry Lewis' grave. What a fantastic way to experience Memphis!

16 August, 2006 13:12  
Blogger Fruning Graplecard said...

Poor old Mr Presley. I worry that he is immortalised in a one-piece rhinestone catsuit.

How you would like to be remembered? Not like that, I hope.



16 August, 2006 13:53  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

I love all the stages of Elvis. I especially think he was not only a sexual powerhouse of a figure and singer in 68 but he was also in strange thoughtful period of his life. I ove "Suspicious Minds" and "In The Ghetto". I am listening to an Elvis cd right now.

Remember Jim Jarmuch's movie "Mystery Train? where the Japanese couple had a scrap book chronicling the images of Elvis and how other icons looked like him...Buddha, Madonna?

16 August, 2006 16:53  
Blogger the cappuccino kid said...

can i be controversial here and say i just don't get him? yes "he" changed the face of music. but if not him, then somebody else. i think that people look at him with rose tinted spectacles, in the same way as people look at the beatles. yes, they were both good at what they did, but i don't think they were the "best". ultimateley my personal belief is that it was a case of right moment, right time. sorry if this upsets anyone but it's what i think.
still, it does make me feel old to realise it is 29 years since!

16 August, 2006 18:02  
Blogger martinobhoy said...


Thanks for this post. The music of Elvis Presley was a big part of my childhood as my mum was just the greatest fan ever. It's one of my clearest childhood memories - her sitting in the kitchen 29 years ago today looking very sad and telling me one of her "boyfriends" had died.

The 68 Comeback Special always blows me away when I watch it and listen to it on my MP3 player. My mum has since told me that she watched it with me on her knees as a baby (I think it was broadcast in 69 in the UK) while my dad was out at night school. Obviously it's a memory she still cherishes.

16 August, 2006 18:26  
Blogger Jezebelle said...

He will always be king. Here and on the planet he now lives on:)

16 August, 2006 19:31  
Blogger Ranting Dullard said...

Man, I remember seeing it the SUN newspaper 'the king is dead'. I was just a kid.

I sang 'peace in the valley' at my dads funeral. Love that song.

Elivs gave a lot to music and is still an Icon. Heck, that leather suit in his comeback special cant be beat!

16 August, 2006 19:48  
Blogger FOUR DINNERS said...

I'll pop down to McDonalds in the morning and tell him you still like him...or is it the chip shop?

16 August, 2006 20:37  
Blogger Suze said...

I grew listening to his music my parents were big fans. Must say I love In The Ghetto, it's my all time favourite of his.

16 August, 2006 21:52  
Blogger her indoors said...

oh how i loved that man just wish i could have seen him in concert. spent the day watching TCM all elvis films/concerts sad i know

16 August, 2006 22:41  
Blogger tideliar said...

It's a real joy to be a musician here in Memphis, and know that this is the birthplace of rock and roll. Elvis didn't steal balck music, he just stylised it for a white audience. This was all pre-segregation. Any of y'all make it over here, my good buddy Chuck runs the world famous Rock N Soul museum. He is a world's authority on rock, Elvis and all that stuff.

Thank you very much...

P.S. it's Elvis week here right now. 100,000 pilgrims making a candlelight parade and vigil at Graceland. Good stuff!!

17 August, 2006 00:49  
Blogger Cynnie said...

thats depressing..
29 years, and I remember where i was when I first heard the news, I was at work!..cause i was a woman ! with a kid ! and a job!..
Jesus, I need to lie and say I can't remember cause I was just a wee one.
Favorite Elvis movie ?
King Creole..he was a badass

17 August, 2006 01:19  
Blogger Wendy Ann Edwina D'Cunha e Pereira said...

I was a bit too small to really know Elvis & his music at the time of his death, but I really love his voice. I like quite a few of his songs but I find quite a few very shallow and meaningless... His voice though, was amazing.I feel kind of sad that he wasn't really happy & had so many problems. I guess he didn't really know how to handle success. Ofcourse that's my opinion...

17 August, 2006 05:28  
Blogger _z. said...

the king is dead!
long live the king!

17 August, 2006 05:42  
Blogger apositivepessimist said...

yes I have to admit I was a tad late at the fan gate...but, I don't reckon anybody can dispute his title of the king.

suspicious minds is my favourite...loved the fine young cannibals version of it. shuddery chills.

17 August, 2006 07:36  
Blogger the cappuccino kid said...

yup, must be me then! sorry people. huh huh.

17 August, 2006 08:09  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Tanya: Amen, indeed.

Mr A: That sounds really cool. I'd love to visit the Sun studios. My brother did a few years ago, big fan that he is. One day I'd like to, too...

Fruning Graplecard: I think he's in a simple black suit, but what a terrible thought!

Candy: Suspicious Minds and In The Ghetto are true late-period classics, and no messin'. Afraid I've never seen the movie Mystery Train... Bad, I know!

17 August, 2006 08:14  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Cappy: I remember from a previous comment way way back that you are not a fan. What you say is sort of true: "If not him, then somebody else."

But the fact remains, it WAS him. Nobody had done it before. And if somebody else were to do it later, then maybe not until 1957, or 1965, thereby having a very different impact on the future of music.

We all know how many singers and musicians have said that without Elvis they would not have existed. Even his contemporaries were not up to the task. Elvis took their songs and made them the classics they are today.

Would anybody know who Carl Perkins was if Elvis hadn't recorded Blue Suede Shoes? Probably not.

17 August, 2006 08:19  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Martino: I got the 68 Comeback Special DVD set for Christmas last year, cos it's a TV classic. Anybody wanting a masterclass in stagemanship should watch it. That's cool about you sitting on your mum's knee watching it. Very nice image.

Jez: Yes he will.

RD: Who wouldn't want that leather suit?! Or to look that damn good in it? Nice funeral song for your dad. When I first got into Elvis, I didn't care much for the slow songs (what kids do?), but later I saw that songs like that really showcased what a great singer he was.

4D: Are there any chip shops anymore...?

17 August, 2006 08:23  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Suze: I guess people of our generation did grow up with Elvis. Funny really. It's like we all rediscovered him after his death. That's the timelessness of a great artist for you. Good song choice.

Her Indoors: I had to be out all day, but I daresay if I'd had the time I would have been watching TCM too! Takes me back to the school summer holidays when I was a kid, and there seemed to be a different Elvis film on every day.

Tidy: I thought of you, and where you are, when writing the post. Cool place to be on August 16 and January 8, I'm sure. If I ever get down to those parts, I'll surely be looking you up for the tour.

17 August, 2006 08:28  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Cynnie: King Creole is my fave, too. He so fucking rocks in that movie. And the songs are not half bad either.

Wendy: He had a great voice, didn't he? I started to mention it in my post, because I think it's important that it not be forgotten. He was more than an innovator with a good look. He could sing bloody well, too.

_z.: Amen, brother.

APP: There's do disputing what can't be disputed! Suspicios Minds is a great one. It was the first song I ever sang at karaoke, too!

Cappy: Yeah, it's just you! (But see my other comment to you above.)

17 August, 2006 08:31  

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