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Thursday, January 8, 2009

This being Elvis Presleyís birthday, it got me wondering whether, if he were alive, he would still be relevant. Then I reminded myself that he actually became irrelevant during his lifetime, and then made himself relevant again. Thatís quite a feat for someone who died at 42.

Even though Elvis was a music star again for the last ten years of his life, he was never as important as he was in the mid-fifties, when he changed the face of popular music. By bringing to his white audience a style of music originated by black artists, he made it possible for that audience to accept those artists. Thatís something that happened a half-century ago that has a sort of analogy in the recent election.

We have a lot to be grateful to Elvis for. Someone else would have broken down the boundaries he helped smash, no doubt. You canít keep a vibrant part of the culture from being seen and heard forever, but the fact remains that heís one of the ones who did it, and he remains relevant now, more than thirty years after his death, because of it. And all he was doing was singing and playing good music in a way that was right for him. I doubt he set out to start a revolution; he was just being himself. Again: analogous.

8 January 2009

Clouds passing by.

The fact that we still sing so many Elvis songs today shows why it was possible for him to make such an impact. As with any artist, itís always about the material before anything else, and even during his comeback that started in 1968, he made good choices. He made good song choices, that is. Some of his lifestyle choices are why heís not still around today, relevant or not.

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