Thursday 16 August 2018

The King

It was on this day in 1977 that Elvis Presley died. I remember getting off the train to work the following morning (the news reached the UK overnight) and seeing that someone had already scrawled, high up on a wall opposite the station, the words 'Are you lonesome tonight?'
  As music star deaths go, Elvis's was more unglamorous than most, and less premature (he was 42). His best work was surely behind him – and so much of the material he had recorded (not to mention the films he made) had anyway been unworthy of him. Compared to the loss, much earlier in their lives and  careers, of two other Seventies casualties, Gram Parsons and Tim Buckley, Elvis's death did not deprive the world of much musical potential. Who knows where either of those two might have taken their music if they had lived?
  However, with all that said, Elvis Presley's death felt like a great blow and a palpable loss. For a few years, Elvis simply was rock 'n' roll, and even to the end and in spite of everything, he had an aura, a magic, an almost numinous quality about him, something that singled him out from all others (and was strangely blended with an almost childlike vulnerability). Perhaps the best musical tribute paid to him – one that capture that strange and special aura – is Gillian Welch's beautiful Elvis Presley Blues (a song that links him with the American folk hero John Henry). The King is dead, long live the King.

1 comment:

  1. And on the same day this year, the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin... The Queen is dead, long live the Queen.