Tuesday 16 August 2022

 Why Elvis?

Of the seminal icons to emerge in the 1950s - Elvis, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe - it is Elvis who continues to move people in a way that many of the artists no longer can. 

So, why Elvis?

Author Paul Simpson finds 10 reasons. Maybe you can find more.

1. The name. 
The first name only was unique in popular culture at the time. And he's was real. Once heard, it is never forgotten. There is only one Elvis. 

2. The voice. 
Often imitated, yet utterly distinctive, technically superb, with a range of at least 3 octaves, it has a versatility that others simply can't match.

3. The look.
Elvis was the most beautiful male star of his era. And he intuitively understood the importance of the look, of which he was his own art director. 

4. Timing.
He was a hurricane of fresh air after a decade of ration and recovery, and shockingly original.

5. The myth.
Elvis' life followed the pattern of a Greek myth: the most famous person in the world at 21, deceased and disparaged at 42. 

6. The marketing.
He received unprecedented initial exposure and restricted media access, making him the ultimate unreachable star.

7. The mystery.
The known unknowns about Elvis are as great as the known knowns. Outside of his music and movies, through which he seemed like a friend, we never got that close to him. Yet he affected us intensely.

8. He only bored us in some movies.
Elvis never felt obliged to lecture us about politics, other performers, religion or how we should live our lives. As such he was a blank canvas onto which we could all project our fantasies of who he was and what he was like.

9. He was ridiculed.
Parker often made it easy for critics to sneer but the abuse only solidified his fanbase. Once you've endured the embarrassment of Elvis singing Old Macdonald on the back of a truck, you know your devotion cannot be tested again.

10. He had a unique aura that can't be reduced to mere charisma.
Maybe it was the loss of his twin, maybe the sometimes retreat to intense loneliness, maybe the haunting tale of his life and death, but many - from his dentist to movie director Sidney Lumet - felt there was something otherworldly about him.

So, how will you commemorate the 45th anniversary of Elvis' passing today? I will be in the cinema (again) and on my way over there put the music of An Afternoon in the Garden on full blast!