Elvis Presley would have been 80

I like the historical reference in the Elvis song: “No such zone.”

ElvisStampLPAs I’ve noted before, my father really hated Elvis. He resented this white artist stealing/exploiting/ profiting from performing black music. (But then half of the musicians in the ’50s and ’60s from Pat Boone to Led Zeppelin “borrowed” from black music). So I never owned any Elvis music as a child or teenager. Still, I did like some of his songs. So I watched the ’68 “comeback special” and became grudgingly, a mild fan.

I’ve written about Elvis a few times. But I never pegged my favorite songs because he would have turned 70 after I started this blog. The chart action refers to the Billboard (US) singles charts.

12. Blue Suede Shoes (#20 in 1956)- great song by Carl Perkins, but I prefer his original, which might have made Perkins a bigger star if he hadn’t gotten into a serious car crash.
11. Are You Lonesome To-night? (#1 for 6 weeks in 1960) – I’m not that fond of songs that involve people talking. This is one exception, mostly because “You know someone said that the world’s a stage And each must play a part” always cracks me up. “Someone” said? That was Billy Shakes!
10. All Shook Up (#1 for 9 weeks in 1957) – particularly love the vocal delivery: “Well-a bless-a my soul”

9. Suspicious Minds (#1 in 1969) – Elvis in his comeback mode being relevant.
8. A Little Less Conversation – with JXL (#50 in 2002). I had never heard the original from the 1960s, which was a minor hit.
7. Don’t Be Cruel (#1 for #11 weeks in 1956 with Hound Dog) – the opening guitar lick and the backup singers make this for me.

6. Love Me Tender (#1 for 5 weeks in 1956). There’s a traditional song called
Aura Lee from which this tune was stolen; at some level, I appreciated the audacity of that.
5. Return to Sender (#2 for 5 weeks in 1962). This is the period I really started discovering Elvis. And I like the historical reference in the song, “No such zone”, just a year before ZIP Codes were implemented for delivering mail in the United States.
4. Little Sister (#5 in 1961). I might have heard a cover of this first and tracked it back to the original.

3. Heartbreak Hotel (#1 for 8 weeks in 1956) this is SO much a blues piece. Listen to the guitar line.
2. Hound Dog (#1 for #11 weeks in 1956 with Don’t Be Cruel). Poor Elvis got to sing this to an actual hound dog on Steve Allen’s show. I always appreciate a great cover, and this take on Big Mama Thorton’s song is transformative.
1. Jailhouse Rock (#1 for 7 weeks in 1957). I’m sure my affection has as much to do with the choreography from the movie as the song’s appeal.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

4 thoughts on “Elvis Presley would have been 80”

  1. I can understand why your dad felt he had taken from many of the black artists, all the musicians and singers did. I guess that is how music evolved and would not have without the talent of the black artists. Not even sure if I can use the word black. The whole thing of racial colors baffles me as I grew up only with natives and had no idea I was white.

  2. “…half of the musicians in the ’50s and ’60s from Pat Boone to Led Zeppelin “borrowed” from black music.”

    Just half? The oh-so-British Invasion was, at heart, based on recycled Chuck Berry licks.

    After all these years, I think the Elvis tune that speaks loudest to me is “U. S. Male,” a 1968 single that just barely crept into the Top 30 before the Full Comeback kicked in. Jerry Reed wrote it and played on it, but it’s the pure Elvis of legend: rural, Southern, and ready to get medieval on your behind.

  3. For whatever it’s worth, if I ever were to do an Elvis list, I’d choose yours. However, that’s only because I couldn’t possibly care less (sad, but true).

  4. He was certainly viewed as quite the radical in his day, and helped define rock and roll. I often wonder how he would have fared if he hadn’t succumbed to all the drugs and alcohol.

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