Top Ten: Elvis Edition

Hee! Since I get to blog today, on Elvis' birthday, I am eschewing writing topics and posting instead my top ten favorite Elvis songs. (Perhaps I should explain the roots of my Elvis fandom. When I was little my Dad used to do a lot of business in Memphis and take us all along [he was a salesman for a company that sold sodium silicate]. We used to stay at a Holiday Inn right up the road from Graceland, and in those days you could tour the grounds sometimes or just stand around waiting to see if he would show up. We went every time, as my parents were such big Elvis fans that somewhere we still have photos they took of the TV when <"Aloha from Hawaii" was aired. Photos of the TV screen, people. So I literally recognized Graceland as quickly as I recognized my own home as a child. Also, on one of those trips, in late spring/early summer of 1977, I saw Elvis himself. Yes, you read that right. I saw Elvis. In person, for real. On his motorcycle. I can therefore beat just about anyone in the "I saw a famous person" game.)

In no particular order:

*Little Sister. I love this one, it's so bad-boy sleazy. The spare arrangement and twangy guitar suck you right in. The lyrics are fairly innocent but the song itself still carries a sexual threat. If Little Sister does what her big sister done, and abandon Elvis at the movies, well, he might get angry. And who knows what a crazy greaser like Elvis might do if he gets angry? Rowr! (Note: I assume at this point my preference for mean, violent, ruthless men has become obvious to anyone paying attention. I would just like to say this is fantasy and not real life, and my actual husband does not in any way resemble this sort of character. Trust me, I'm not getting beaten up at home or anything.)

*Burning Love. Yeah, it's cheezy, and the vocal performance isn't his strongest. So what? I freaking dare you not to at least bob your head in time, especially when it gets to the end and he just repeats, "A hunk-a hunk-a burning love, heeeey!" over and over. It's like CCR's "Bad Moon Rising"; if you're not moving, something is wrong with you.

*Love Me Tender. Everybody loves this one, and the love is in my opinion well deserved. C'mon, it's a classic! Probably the most romantic lyrics ever written (aside from "Can't Help Falling in Love", which we'll get to.) I am a sucker for the word "Darling", and always have been. Maybe it's a Lady and the Tramp thing? I dunno, but I adore it.

*Are You Lonesome Tonight? It's the vocal push at the end. Elvis at full strength had a voice like nobody ever had or ever will again. He makes it sound so easy, too. Suddenly there it is, all that longing and hope shoving itself straight into your heart.

*A Little Less Conversation. I dig the original, I dig the remix. I just plain think this song is cool. The perfect backdrop for anything, whether it's driving a getaway car or having a Shag-esque swinging party with lots of chi-chi cocktails and guys in sharkskin suits, playing this one early in the evening before "The Girl from Ipanema" comes on to get everyone in the make-out mood, ring-a-ding-ding!

*Always on My Mind. I'm not ashamed to admit this song, in any of its incarnations, literally makes me cry, but when Elvis sings it even more so (although obviously, Willie's version is also a favorite). So does Elvis' "American Trilogy", which I am a bit embarrassed to admit this one, but it gives me goosebumps. If that means I have to give back my Cool Kids Membership card, so be it.

*Can't Help Falling in Love. This is just beautiful. If this doesn't move you in the slightest you have no heart.

*Viva Las Vegas. Pure fun. The Dead Kennedys' cover of this one has also long been a favorite of mine.

*Hound Dog. Oooh, gritty, angry Elvis! So sexy. The height of his rock n roll bad boy years (I know "Jailhouse Rock" is often considered that, but I suffer from a condition whereby I lived in South Florida, where basically Jailhouse Rock was the only Elvis song they ever played on the radio. So I got a little JRd out. The song still kicks ass, I'm just a bit fatigued by it at this point. So I pick Hound Dog instead.

*That's Alright. Again, in real life I think if a man tried to call me "Mama" I'd have a fit, but when Elvis does it I get all melty. Plus this one rocks. Raw arrangement, clean-but-dirty vocals, it's everything you need and then some (well, beer would be good too.)

Technically that's eleven, if you include the American Trilogy. So since I've already violated the letter of the law I'll just list a few more I like. Like CC Rider. Or Blue Christmas, which would have been in the Top Ten but we're all over holiday music at this point, right? Or Baby You're so Square. Or Heartbreak Hotel, which is another excellent vocal performance but is another song to which I've become fatigued. Oh! And Love Me, which is stunning and beautiful and tender and slightly sadomasochistic all at once, and which should have been in my Top Ten because I love it!

So there you go. For those interested in more Elvis (and who isn't?), I found This Times Online article of the 50 Greatest Elvis songs (with YouTube links to some!). See what you think.

And have a drink for The King tonight.

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