38. Elvis and God
38. Elvis and God
When I was in my early teens Elvis was equivalent to a god, and for many of our generation, including my dear brother he still is. The King, reigning over us down below. Those who think like this, devotionally, are not bothered with his greed or pill popping: thats incidental. The majesty of his voice is what matters. I do share that view even if I dont belong to the Presleyan church of which the Alabama 3 speak.
By way of starting the show, here is All Shook Up. This the young Elvis, full of drams, sex appeal and style. The pop music industry was indeed all shook up by it!
I got stung is another from his earliest, and best period.
To see the young Elvis wiggling his hips in the manner that shocked America, here is ‘Hound Dog’, one of his early hits
For some perspective, here is the Alabama 3’s Preseleyan Church singing Dont Go to Goa, about the sort of people who followed the Elvis revolution and then the Beatle one: lying ‘lying on some third world beach’ and thinking about consciousness expansion. The Alabama 3 hold with going to their local tabernacle. For those influenced when young by Elvis, there is no great need for a Tabernacle. Elvis was quite devout and patriotic, despite his rather dissolute lifestyle.
Following the idea of Elvis as god, the Crash Test Dummies visualised a scene just after the Creation (in the biblical version of things) in which God was being questioned by some of the people he had just created, with such curious questions as what would happen if you arrived in Heaven and found your wife next to you. This might seem a joy to some, but the implication in the Crash Test Dummies version is rather less joyful!
It is a compliment to the mesmerising impact of the early Presley that people refused to believe he had died. There are still people waiting for his second coming. That only happens with the most illustrious types of star.
It is mostly Elvis’s upbeat numbers that have survived best. But I think ‘One night with you’ has done all right, despite its slower tempo:
As a final blast of the ‘real’ (ie pre US Army) Elvis, here is Jailhouse Rock. The film demonstrated that Elvis could have become a much better actor if the ghastly ‘Colonel’ Tome Parker, his manaager, had allowed. Unfortunately as somebody put it, Elvis was born with a handle on his back and Parker picked him up by it. The handle manufacturer was his monther Grace, whom Elvis adored (hence his home’s name of Gracelands). Had he the chance to have developed a bit more he might have learned to regreat that handle and throw it off. But the pressure of stardom on Elvis was unbelievably great, and its not surprising that he burnt out so fast.
It would be unfair to end without crediting Sam Phillips of Sun Records who put Elvis in with the guitarist Scotty Moore and bass player Bill Black. They can be seen in the ‘Hound Dog’ video above.
Together they generated the rhythm and melody to complement Elvis’s natural dynamism. They were both very good musicians, without whom Elvis’s meteoric career would not have had such a strong upward curve to the heavens!