Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Voice(s) Of Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley has always been a phenomenon, both in life and in death. But more so in death, when we measure it in terms of financial successes, and even in popularity and longevity. His songs and other iconic items about him continue to tap into new areas of the globe, ably assisted by a mini-industry that was spawned by his enduring image and popularity, the Elvis impersonators, or as now nicely referred to, the Elvis tribute artists.

I had often wondered whether this personal but enduring child-like adulation of his singing that I treasure was a unique aberration, but still a local limited aberration. However, the continued world-wide and unflagging responses to his songs to this day would seem to belie this.

This brings one to wonder what exactly was in his singing that has made it so durable, in spite of all the equally gifted artists that have come and gone after him and the varying ways that songs are now both composed and delivered to ever-changing fickle audiences.

Why indeed should his old-style singing endure above the deluge of singing artists that now colonize the colossal entertainment firmament? After all, Elvis and the ensuing rock and roll phenomenon broke loose more than 50 years ago.

But rock and roll has undeniably prevailed, and Elvis continues to reign as its undisputed King, which title by no means just implies an empty and hollow attribution.

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  1. I always liked him, but that's about it. To me, he was just a good singer. I think because he was the first of his kind, that's what has made him special. I think its cool too that he was drafted while he was still a phenomenon and served without a murmur. It would have been more interesting I think, if there had been a shooting war going on at the time. I wonder what they would have done with him then?

  2. That's a good question.

    Would the top brass heirarchy have shielded him from imminent danger?

    We should remember it was a quite different milieu then.

    Examples of celebrity soldiers during WWII would be more comparable.

  3. WWII and Korea showed us the last of a special generation. We had celebrities who volunteered to serve and actually go into combat.

    Pat Tillman was the modern exception and he was killed by his own men during a botched operation in Afghanistan. What a shame. We finally have a contemporary example of a celebrity putting service ahead of self and we slaughter him for his trouble.

  4. Although I heard and appreciate many of his music and saw almost all his movies with my father, Elvis belonged to my older brothers. It was the Beatles for me.

  5. Eric:

    Being an Elvis fan does reveal one's chronological past. Thus, for me the Beatles were also adored but not in the same passion as the King.

    I remember that when Elvis was asked about the Beatles, he was quite deferential and did mention improved technology as one that worked better for the mopheads.


    One of my daughters-in-law may be closely related to the Tillman family since she has in the past narrated stories about him. I may have to ask her about him.


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