Join Date: Sep 2008
Originally Posted by Keigh
Costello is better. Singer/songwriter/collaborator.
Presley was just a figure. He could sing and dance and look pretty, that was all. He gave a non-threatening voice to a music the labels wanted to capitalize on. They can call him the "King" all they want. He invented nothing. He was on ok singer who couldn't write his own material.
Using a British colloquialism your comment about "non-threatening" is a load of Bollocks. For a start he began his career on a small label called Sun and typical of those times as it is now anyone with any popularity is signed by a major label. Dylan went to CBS at the time.
So what if Presley signed to a major label eventually. I have read a few books on his cultural impact and we, that is me and you and many others would not have a clue unless we have lived around that time, the mid fifties or bothered, as in my case, to read about it.
I will quote wiki as it is a readily available source.
When "That's All Right" was played, many listeners were sure Presley must be black, prompting white disc-jockeys to ignore his Sun singles. However, black disc-jockeys did not want anything to do with any record they knew was made by a white man. To many black adults, Presley had undoubtedly "stolen" or at least "derived his style from the Negro rhythm-and-blues performers of the late 1940s", though such criticism ignored Presley's use of "white" musical styles. Some black entertainers, notably Jackie Wilson, argued: "A lot of people have accused Elvis of stealing the black man’s music, when in fact, almost every black solo entertainer copied his stage mannerisms from Elvis."c
By the spring of 1956, Presley was becoming popular nationwide and teenagers flocked to his concerts. Scotty Moore recalled: "He’d start out, 'You ain’t nothin’ but a Hound Dog,' and they’d just go to pieces. They’d always react the same way. There’d be a riot every time." Bob Neal wrote: "It was almost frightening, the reaction... from [white] teenage boys. So many of them, through some sort of jealousy, would practically hate him." In Lubbock, Texas, a teenage gang fire-bombed Presley's car. Some performers became resentful (or resigned to the fact) that Presley's unmatched hustle onstage before them would "kill" their own act; he thus rose quickly to top billing. At the two concerts he performed at the 1956 Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show, one hundred National Guardsmen were on hand to prevent crowd trouble.
To many white adults, the singer was "the first rock symbol of teenage rebellion. ... they did not like him, and condemned him as depraved. Anti-Negro prejudice doubtless figured in adult antagonism. Regardless of whether parents were aware of the Negro sexual origins of the phrase 'rock 'n' roll', Presley impressed them as the visual and aural embodiment of sex." In 1956, a critic for the New York Daily News wrote that popular music "has reached its lowest depths in the 'grunt and groin' antics of one Elvis Presley" and the Jesuits denounced him in their weekly magazine, America. Even Frank Sinatra opined: "His kind of music is deplorable, a rancid smelling aphrodisiac. It fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people." Presley responded to this (and other derogatory comments Sinatra made) by saying: "I admire the man. He has a right to say what he wants to say. He is a great success and a fine actor, but I think he shouldn't have said it... This ... [rock and roll] ... is a trend, just the same as he faced when he started years ago."
According to the FBI files on the singer, Presley was even seen as a "definite danger to the security of the United States." His actions and motions were called "a strip-tease with clothes on" or "sexual self-gratification on stage." They were compared with "masturbation or riding a microphone." Some saw the singer as a sexual pervert, and psychologists feared that teenaged girls and boys could easily be "aroused to sexual indulgence and perversion by certain types of motions and hysteria—the type that was exhibited at the Presley show." Presley would insist, however, that there was nothing vulgar about his stage act, saying: "Some people tap their feet, some people snap their fingers, and some people sway back and forth. I just sorta do ‘em all together, I guess." In August 1956, a Florida judge called Presley a "savage" and threatened to arrest him if he shook his body while performing in Jacksonville. The judge declared that Presley's music was undermining the youth of America. Throughout the performance (which was filmed by police), he kept still as ordered, except for wiggling a finger in mockery at the ruling. (Presley recalls this incident during the '68 Comeback Special.)
In 1957, despite Presley's demonstrable respect for "black" music and performers, he faced accusations of racism. He was alleged to have said in Boston, Massachusetts: "The only thing Negro people can do for me is to buy my records and shine my shoes." A journalist at Jet magazine (run by and for African Americans) subsequently pursued Presley, and his acquaintances in Memphis, for any other admissions or anecdotes to back up the perception that the singer was racist. None was found, nor could any evidence be found of the date, location and persons involved regarding the alleged remark (Presley had never visited Boston). Presley himself was interviewed on the set of Jailhouse Rock where he denied saying, or ever wanting to make, such a racist remark.
His parents moved home in Memphis, but the singer lived there briefly. With increased concerns over privacy and security, Graceland was bought and renovated in 1957, a mansion with several acres of land. This was Presley's primary residence until his death.
Presley's record sales grew quickly throughout the late 1950s, with hits like "All Shook Up", "(Let me Be Your) Teddy Bear" and "Too Much".
And he could not write his own music? So what! There are plenty of singers that did not then or now write their own music. They are singers.
And as we are comparing him to Elvis Costello (a ridiculous idea IMO but carry regardless) what did Costello "invent"? To quote wiki again because it is readily available
In 1954, Presley began his career as one of the first performers of rockabilly, an uptempo fusion of country and rhythm and blues with a strong back beat. His novel versions of existing songs, mixing "black" and "white" sounds, made him popular—and controversial
Note the word "novel". Also Note the word "first". Wether you or I or any other individual likes it or not in the years to come Presley will be remembered for one of the hugest contributors to music in all of music's history. Costello will be but a footnote in comparison. And Elvis Costello is a smart enough individual to know that I suspect.
Those are all facts that I have presented and are excepted as historically true by just about all sources if you care to educate yourself on the subject. Do so as there are countless books that discuss the Presley cultural phenomenon of the mid to late 50's and they are great reading.
Terra Music Est Non A Vitium.