"Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the 20th century."
"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."
"For a dead man, Elvis Presley is awfully noisy."
(Professor Gilbert B. Rodman)
"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"
"Absolute id crashed into absolute superego...as the uptightset man in America shook hands with just about the loosest."
(Mark Feeney on the 'Elvis meets Nixon' meeting)
"Elvis is everywhere"
(Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper)
"...especially in the South, they talk about Elvis and Jesus in the same breath"
(Michael Ventura, LA Weekly)
"The image is one thing and the human being is another...it's very hard to live up to an image"
(Elvis Presley, Madison Square Garden press conference, 1972)
"Elvis was a major hero of mine. I was actually stupid enough to believe that having the same birthday as him actually meant something"
"No-one, but no-one, is his equal, or ever will be. He was, and is supreme"
"I wasn't just a fan, I was his brother...there'll never be another like that soul brother"
(Soul legend, James Brown)
"Before Elvis there was nothing!"
'Elvis Seriously' - Mike Handley looks at why the brilliance of Elvis' voice is too often ignored.
This spotlight was written and presented for an Elvis special edition of the 'The Jim Bohannon Show', which airs on 600+ radio stations on the
Westwood One Network in the USA. It was written in 2002 as part of the the 25th anniversary commemorations.
Mike Handley is a narrator and TV/radio commercial spokesman currently working in Europe.
Publicists and record labels always hype, but pure truth was stated for once
when RCA -
about three years ago — crowned Elvis Presley "Artist of the Century". Yet somehow,
incredibly, 25 years after his death, some people have still not taken Elvis seriously.
A few years back, I actually heard Larry King ask Frank Sinatra, "Elvis. Could he really
sing?" Sinatra, (whose own magnificent and almost unsurpassed voice and style embarrassingly once withered in a televised duet with Elvis) looked Larry in the eye and simply answered, "Yes." What surprised me was that Larry had actually asked the question. I mean, how could anyone seriously ask if Elvis Presley could sing? It was just like
asking if Shakespeare could really write, if Einstein was really a great thinker, if Babe Ruth
could really play baseball! Yes, how could anyone in their right mind ask such a question?
In my opinion – and for once in my life I may be in the majority of public opinion – Elvis Presley (when healthy and serious) was flat-out the world's greatest singer. In fact, I dare
assert that he possessed the most beautiful musical instrument in the history of recorded
music -- and the genius to play that instrument perfectly. Name another singer who could
jump from octave to countless other octaves with such agility without voice crack, who
could simultaneously sing a duet with his own overtones, who could rein in an always-
lurking atomic explosion to so effortlessly fondle and release the most delicate chimes of
pathos. Yeah, nobody. Not Caruso, not Lanza, not Pavarotti. They can – with effort –
approach Elvis' crescendos but never his gentleness, his timing, his soul. Somehow those
virtuosos sound so brilliantly mechanical.
So, indeed how could anyone wonder if Elvis Presley could sing? The simple answer must
be that they haven't taken him seriously. I can almost understand that line of thinking. After
all, how could you really take a "singer" seriously who was one of the most handsome guys in
show business, who was at the right place at just the right time, who stunned the world and
made his mark by swiveling hips and belting out rock & roll, who had such a clever manager,
such charisma, such stage presence? Hell, any one of those attributes would have probably
made any "singer" famous. It is understandably almost beyond belief that the one guy who
possessed them all also turned out to be the most talented musician on record. Yet, those
who haven't been open to (or had the chance to) explore some of Presley's most brilliant
work –- the almost esoteric ballads and semi-classical recordings – (most of which have
never received radio airplay) –- have cheated themselves out of one of the most beautiful gifts
to fall out of the sky in a lifetime.
Further consider that Elvis Presley was actually (wow, this is tough to say)
probably surpassed in rock & roll by Little Richard, that Elvis was pushed into recording vats
of contaminated waste, that he was made a fool of in a slew of movies, that he – in large part — lost control of both his voice and his timing during the last decade of his life – and we can
somewhat understand how others could, albeit ignorantly, dare overlook extraordinary
|Fortunately, this magnificent musical instrument reached its perfection around 1960 – the same time the recording industry finally achieved sound reproduction rivaling that of today. So, it's never too late to explore and cherish a well-preserved miracle. A simple trip to the record store can truly produce unparalleled chills and thrills for the rest of your life. Then you'll finally understand the best reason this guy never goes away.
After all, here we are 25 years after Elvis Presley's death, and can any of us honestly remember one 24-hour period in those 25 years when we haven't heard or seen something about him? Ever wonder where those reminders are really coming from?:-)
In any case,
Elvis Presley has succeeded in brightening up 46 years of my life so far – and he’s obviously
not ready to stop yet. Thank you, Elvis. Thank you very much.
Spotlight by Mike Handley.
Click to comment on this EIN spotlight
"Elvis Presley is the supreme socio-cultural icon in the history of pop culture"
(Dr. Gary Enders)
" Elvis is the 'glue' which holds our society together....which subconciously gives our world meaning"
"Eventually everybody has to die, except Elvis"
(humorist Dave Barry)
"He is the "Big Bang", and the universe he detonated is still expanding, the pieces are still flying"
(Greil Marcus, "Dead Elvis")
"I think Elvis Presley will never be solved"
"He was the most popular man that ever walked on this planet since Christ himself was here"
"When I first heard Elvis' voice I just knew I wasn't going to work for anybody...hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail"
"When we were kids growing up in Liverpool, all we ever wanted was to be Elvis Presley"
(Sir Paul McCartney)