Weekly Download No. 45

If I Can Dream by Elvis Presley.  And we’ve made it full circle.  I task you to find any other weekly music (related) blog that’s managed to weave (suspect) music criticism from Titus Andronicus to Nina Simone to Townes Van Zandt to Arcade Fire and now to The King in a little less than a year.  I can feel your astonishment.  On Friday Nights The Spy (105.3 fm) airs what they call “The Juke Joint Revival (“resurrecting Rockabilly, Hillbilly, Rock and Roll, Jump Blues (what?) and Rhythm and Blues back to Oklahoma’s airwaves”)(helmed by none other than “Juke Joint Jenni).  A few weeks ago the show ended with this song, (I don’t want you to get the idea that I listen to this every week or that I had really ever listened to it before that evening.) which Jenni called “my favorite Elvis Presley song.”  This struck me (and I understand that if your handle is “Juke Joint Jenny” you pretty much have to be able to, on request, state your favorite Elvis song. Similarly, if your handle is “Mod Man Mark” you gotta come up with a Beatles’ song…or “Awesome Anarchy Adam” and a Sex Pistol’s song…..or “Silver Spandex Suzie” and a Motley Crue song….or Grimy Grunge Greg and a Soundgarden song….or….OK….I’m out.).  What is Elvis?  Was he an artist?  Was he a musician? He died a little less than a year before I was born.  What he is, to me at least, before I heard this song, was nothing more than an overly satirized, caricatured and impersonated historical figure.  He floundered somewhere between Little Richard and a fat trapeze artist with a distinguished-enough (and not Abe Lincoln distinguished) look and sound that any entry-level “entertainer” should easily summon.  But he hovers over Rock-n-Roll.  He’s like the Babe Ruth of Rock-n-Roll, mythical.  But also the Babe Ruth in the sense that I can’t really even fathom that he was once the most relevant Rock-n-Roll artist on the planet.  He just seems too distant…and, frankly, corny.  Having said all that…..this song is the shit.  It has the horns, the back-up singers and everything.  The King sounds hopeful and forlorn simultaneously.  I love it.  I’m not going to deem it “my favorite Elvis song of-all-time” as you might expect.  As it’s the only song by Elvis that I ever listened to critically and not just heard the sequined jumpsuit and the sweat and the peanut butter and banana sandwiches. But wow.  Then it ends and I sigh with satisfaction and then I don’t think about Elvis anymore.  Enjoy.

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