Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A little less conversation…

‘….A little more action please’, Elvis Presley’s immortal lines from one of the most popular songs of all the times. Remixed as JXL feat Elvis Presley, this chart-topping hit is one of the greatest dance numbers and personally a huge favorite. Is also heard as the background score for the smart, witty and clever ‘Ocean’s Eleven’. But more than its racy beats, its foot-tapping rhythm, it is the sound of Elvis Presley’s voice that’s hypnotic, especially when he says, “Come on baby, I am tired of talking…Grab your coat, let’s start walking”. Elvis Presley: the rebel, the enigma, the charisma, the controversy, the magnetic stage personality, the style that provoked a trillion impersonations and a smoldering sensation that ignited a million musical ambitions.

Elvis’ life and times are the stuff that makes legendary folklore. Through personal setbacks and destructive exploitations of his musical genius, he continued making music that still rocks the charts and keeps him at the No. 1 spot of the highest earning deceased celebrities. It is no wonder that Elvis pulls off this astonishing stunt posthumously year after year because he has spent a lifetime inventing the shocking and achieving the extraordinary; his on stage-antics (a.k.a “anit-Christian, sexually provoking” dance moves) had the conservative Church authorities condemning and banning him, his introduction of the so-called Black music into the mainstream line was disturbingly original, he was the first real popstar with his electrifying movements, the trademark white costume, white shoes, fashionably large glasses mesmerizing overbooked concert stadiums and flooring young and old alike, he defied convention to put rock-and-roll and blues together, he entertained audiences with a fervor and vigor that was considered vulgar and almost superhuman, his love life was hyped and discussed and contemplated about yet in his own confession it was singularly non-existent, he was the subject of the greatest ridicule, criticism and polemics ever written and also the object of everyone’s overwhelming love, undying admiration and blind devotion. Elvis was in short, one for all, all for one.

While listening to his music, I found that his voice had an unusual quality of sounding tender, strong, booming, low-key, playful, sad, loving, condemning each at different times; sometimes sounding all of these at one go. Listen to the shivering “Fever” sung with a minimal musical accompaniment that makes you wanna feel love as ‘a lovely way to burn’ and the classic, drenched-in-honey love anthem “Can’t help falling in love with you”, sung with such deep, surreal passion that it melts the strongest defenses of your heart. From the rebellious, fun-filled “Jailhouse Rock” to the lifting gospel “Amazing grace”, from the heartfelt, genuinely warm “Sweet home Alabama” to the emotionally engaging, heart rendering and defiant “I did it my way”; Elvis’ unmistakable voice reigns supreme. In today’s world of synthesized sounds and oft- indistinguishable voices and strains, an Elvis oldie will stand out as strikingly different and instantly recognizable due to its sheer style and vocal quality.

His gradual decline into drugs and uncontrollable obesity (the videos of some of his last concerts show him as being sick and unable to perform but still holding on is heart breaking to watch them) became a media spectacle for ridicule and speculation and his untimely death was an inconceivable shock (some fanatics believe he is still alive and the person who was buried was his twin brother…there are many such theories) but what live on are the legacy of his timeless music and his indelible charming impressions as one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century.

Elvis, to me you are the original rockstar, everyone else is just a derivative. For the world of music, you might have checked-out of the building but you can never truly leave. ‘The wonder of you’ will always stay alive…I love you dude, you rock!!

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