Review #332: Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley

Karla Clifton
2 min readNov 26, 2022

#332: Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley

I was once in a high school production of All Shook Up, an Elvis jukebox musical. I wasn’t a lead, but I did have a little solo on “Heartbreak Hotel.” I only bring that up because “Blue Suede Shoes” was definitely in it, and I didn’t understand it then and I don’t understand it now. Elvis would die for blue shoes? He’d rather have his house burned down? Dude.

So: Elvis leaves Sun Studios for RCA, leading to the debut of what RS calls “the sexiest voice anyone had ever heard,” which I would say is lazy writing if I didn’t have a bad habit of calling everything with an attitude “punk.” (My notes for “Tutti Frutti” read: Elvis’ is a real punk one here. A wop bop a loo op a wop bam boo.)

His voice is sexy, but more than that, it’s versatile. He does that guttural falsetto thing that Fifties rock stars all did on both ballads (“I’m Counting On You”) and bops (“One-Sided Love Affair”). It’s kind of sweet, until it’s straight-up goofy (“Trying to Get to You” and “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry (Over You)”).

At this point in his career, Elvis never sounds like he’s not having fun. “Just Because” pokes fun at a greedy girlfriend, but the lyrics are so silly (he calls himself Ole Santa Clause) that you don’t get the same bitter taste in your mouth that you get when listening to, say, the Rolling Stones. “Money Honey” is great fun, too. (Later on, fun gives way to thoughtful.)

But I surprised myself by being most taken with the songs where he sings really quietly. “I Love You Because” and “I’ll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin’)” have a poignancy the rest of them don’t.

“Blue Moon” was my favorite. It’s such a mood. I recently watched a movie where a character tries to describe how a painting without a person in it can still feel like something. It reminded me of this song, and how Elvis tells you exactly how he feels with two four-letter words.

Without a dream is my heart/ Without a love of my own. It’s a lonely, lovely song. My favorite thing about music is how it can remind you that feeling blue isn’t bad.

Kanye Connection (No Links, I Promise): Elvis’ take on “I Got A Woman” isn’t the version Ye used, but it made me wiggle my shoulders all the same. (Side note: It’s sort of a bitter relief that there are no more Kanye West albums on the RS 500 list. I just don’t feel like giving him any more of my money, or attention. :( )

Review #331: Like A Prayer, Madonna

Review #333: Still Bill, Bill Withers

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