Saturday, January 9, 2010

Happy birthday, Elvis: You’ve never left the building By Leslie Gray Streeter

Ed. Note - I'm sharing with you this great list from the Palm beach Post about why the King still rules. Thanks to Ms Streeter for filling my blog in today while I continue to recuperate from sciatica!

Thankyouverymuch, King!

Seventy-five years ago today, one Elvis Aaron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, and it’s hard to imagine pop culture — music, movies, fashion, velvet paintings — without him.

So on what would have been his birthday, we offer 75 reasons why Elvis has never really left the building.

1. He didn’t invent rock-n-roll. But he certainly helped bring it to the masses.

2. Most of his 31 movies were really awful, but Hollywood kept forgiving him. It wouldn’t do that for Ben Affleck, and he’s got an Oscar!

3. Who else could make “Dixie” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” sexy? NOBODY!

4. Kanye, we’re gonna let you finish, but “Jailhouse Rock” was one of the greatest music videos of all time!

5. Speaking of “Jailhouse Rock”: Elvis managed to make a song about a dance party in an all-male cell block sound exciting, uber-masculine, and not like a very special episode of OZ.

6. He sang “Viva Las Vegas,” which kicks so much over-the-top butt that we don’t even blame it for inspiring those God-awful “Viva Viagra” commercials. And we hate those commercials.

7. Nobody ever looked better in muttonchops.

8. Without Elvis, there’s no Crybaby, one of Johnny Depp’s best early movies.

9. Even though El Vez, the Mexican Elvis, is pretty much a one-joke comedian, it’s a very funny joke. I mean, the dude claims to live in Graciasland. Y’all know that’s comedy.

10. “In The Ghetto”: Embarrassingly over-earnest or wonderfully campy? Discuss.

11. Not only is Elvis’ original “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” one of the most beautiful wedding songs ever recorded, but it spawned UB40’s excellent 1994 cover from the Sliver soundtrack, which is the only reason to ever mention Sliver.

12. Without Elvis going into the Army, there’s no need for Bye Bye Birdie to spoof the subject, which means that film doesn’t become a hit, and its star Ann-Margret doesn’t then star in Viva Las Vegas … with Elvis!

13. Two words: Rhinestone jumpsuits.

14. Without Elvis, who would perform all the weddings in Las Vegas? Because, for some reason, there aren’t any Wayne Newton impersonators.

15. Two more words: Jungle room.

16. He may not have been the first teen heartthrob, but he might as well have been.

17. Man jewelry.

18. In “A Little Less Conversation,” coined the phrase “satisfactioning.”

19. Because peanut butter and banana sandwiches are actually quite delicious.

20. Bill Clinton’s appearance playing “Heartbreak Hotel” on sax on The Arsenio Hall Show.

21. More than a million people voted on whether to put Young Elvis or Jumpsuit Elvis on a U.S. postal stamp in 1992 (Young Elvis won!)

22. Never has a pair of hips freaked people out more.

23. His 1968 TV special remains rock’s most successful comeback.

24. He helped put Memphis’ now-iconic Sun Records on the map.

25. Look at Twilight’s Rob Pattinson. Check the dreamy hair. The pouty lips. The general bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold demeanor. Gee. Look familiar?

26. His connection to Svengali manager Col. Tom Parker is a cautionary tale that every up-and-coming singer should know about before they sign anything.

27. Morrissey copied his pompadour, hook, line and pomade. And it was awesome.

28. He became an international icon, yet never performed anywhere outside the U.S. besides Canada.

29. In 1955, he was rejected from Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts, sort of the American Idol of its day. Guess he didn’t need it.

30. He was so successful that his career survived singing “Hound Dog” to a hound dog on The Steve Allen Show.

31. No Elvis, no Adam Lambert.

32. Carl Perkins sang the song first, but Elvis made blue suede shoes a fashion must-have, even though, in retrospect, they’re sort of tacky.

33. Played an inner-city doctor smitten with a do-gooder nun played by Mary Tyler Moore in his last movie, Change of Habit, and managed to escape with his dignity. This is not easy.

34. He bought Graceland for his parents and grandma to live in. (Awww!)

35. He made the G.I. buzz cut look good.

36. Elvis was a black belt in karate, which makes those karate chop stances during the Jumpsuit Years a little less cheesy.

37. He threw sweaty scarves at his audiences, and they liked it.

38. Preceded Tupac as the dead celebrity most likely sighted despite, you know, being dead.

40. “Suspicious Minds” is, for our money, the most rocking anthem about a dysfunctional relationship we’ve ever heard.

41. Beat this, Oprah: Elvis created the pop culture car giveaway, doling out reportedly 200 Cadillacs during his lifetime.

42. Speaking of vehicle giveaways, Elvis bought the Potomac, the yacht of late President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and eventually donated it to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

43. And while we’re on the subject, Elvis was a committed fund raiser for various charities, supporting everything from cancer funds to the building of the memorial for the U.S.S. Arizona in Pearl Harbor.

44. Preceded Steven Seagal as a celebrity cop by becoming a “Special Deputy Sheriff” in Shelby County, Tenn., and then charmed a federal drug agent badge from Richard Nixon.

45. He became the first dead person to headline a concert tour, when “Elvis The Concert,” featuring recordings of his performances accompanied by live musicians, hit the road.

46. “If there hadn’t been an Elvis, there wouldn’t have been a Beatles” — John Lennon. ’nuff said.

47. Here’s one for irony: The man whose blatant sexuality scandalized a nation also had hit gospel albums.

48. To thank Memphis’s Mayor William Ingram for instituting “Elvis Presley Day,” Elvis names one of his horses Mare Ingram.

49. And yet even two more words: Black leather.

50. Elvis meets President Nixon: The most deliciously surreal pop culture meeting ever? Discuss.

51. Capes! Glorious capes!

52. “Burning Love” was used to wake up astronauts on one of the missions of the Space Shuttle Endeavor.

53. Considers, but ultimately does not do, Barbra Streisand’s remake of A Star Is Born, which was probably a good thing for Elvis. Because that was a bad movie.

54. He overcame a self-admitted case of stage fright.

55. Future fellow Las Vegas icon Frank Sinatra said that Elvis’ music “fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people.” The young people probably couldn’t hear that because they were screaming so loud.

56. Was name-checked in Marc Cohn’s hit “Walking In Memphis,” which includes the line “There’s a pretty little thing waiting for the King, down in the Jungle Room.”

57. Had 149 songs hit the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Chart.

58. There is an actual Heartbreak Hotel in Memphis, which has a “Burning Love” suite and a “Graceland” suite with its own Jungle Room den. Yes. We can not get over that Jungle Room thing.

59. Leonard Bernstein called Elvis “the greatest cultural force in the twentieth century.” And this is from the man who scored West Side Story.

60. Brought the phrase “Hunka hunka” into the English lexicon.

61. Without Elvis’ outre stage sexuality and rocked-up blues, there are no Rolling Stones.

62. The Flying Elvises. Or is that Elvi?

63. The inspiration for this line — “Elvis, Elvis, let me be! Keep that pelvis far from me!” (From Grease’s “Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee”.

64. Because even in the pantheon of his cheesiest movies, Jailhouse Rock is pretty compelling, and Elvis is really good in it.

65. Not only did he have a hit concert tour while dead, he had a hit single, “A Little Less Conversation,” in 2001, after it was featured on the Ocean’s 11 soundtrack (It also became the theme for NBC’s Las Vegas..)

66. He made tinted aviator glasses cool.

67. The Honeymoon In Vegas soundtrack, which is all Elvis, all the time.

68. “Are You Lonesome Tonight” is three minutes of melodrama, Shakespearean reference, soul-inspired spoken word interlude and slightly obsessive borderline stalking. And we really like it.

69. Sam Kinison’s mock-serious version of “Are You Lonesome Tonight” – great singing, finer screaming.

70. His relationship with wife Priscilla apparently inspired Depeche Mode’s song “Personal Jesus,” according to songwriter Martin Gore.

71. Elvis starring Kurt Russell.

72. Without Elvis, we’d have a rock star named Declan MacManus (look it up).

73. There is a Graceland cam on

74. A young Barry White, in jail for stealing tires, heard Elvis’ “It’s Now Or Never” and was so moved he turned his life around and became a singer.

75. Because 32 years after his death, he’s still important enough for us to be writing this list.

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