Art & Culture

Musical Homage: Remembering Elvis Through 5 Songs He Ignited

The King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Aaron Presley, would have turned 88 today, had he not met an untimely end. Born on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi, Elvis was a defining figure in modern music. Tragically, he passed away at the age of 42 on August 16, 1977, in his Graceland mansion. His legacy lives on through his monumental impact on the world of music.

Elvis’s influence is undeniable, with over 500 million records sold to date. He holds records for the highest number of charting songs across various countries, playing a crucial role in popularizing the rock and roll genre and paving the way for the pop musical revolution of the 1960s.

Paul Simon, a respected musician known for his work with Simon & Garfunkel, released the album “Graceland” in 1986, a peak in his solo career. The title track paid homage to the mansion where Elvis once resided with his family. The album’s fusion of world music, particularly South African styles like mbaqanga, merged seamlessly with pop and rock.

Another tribute to Elvis is Marc Cohn’s song “Walking in Memphis,” where he reflects on a visit to Graceland. Written to overcome his writer’s block, Cohn’s 1991 track captures the essence of his journey, even embracing the church where Al Green preached. The song’s later cover by Cher added a personal touch.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds took a darker approach with “Tupelo,” a single from their second album. Released in 1985, the song recounts a storm that coincided with Elvis’s birth in Tupelo, Mississippi. Cave, known for his gothic storytelling, brought a unique twist to this folk-inspired tale.

Depeche Mode’s 1989 single “Personal Jesus” drew inspiration from Priscilla Presley’s book “Elvis and Me.” The track explores the concept of loving someone as deeply as Jesus, equating it to the intensity of loving Elvis. Despite stylistic differences from Elvis’s work, the song’s impact on crowds showcases its power.

Elvis’s daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, also contributed to the legacy with her song “Lights Out.” Reflecting on her upbringing, the track provides insight into her experiences as Elvis’s daughter. The lyrics poignantly express her pain and loss, revealing the emotional toll of growing up with the iconic figure. Initially hesitant to release it due to its personal nature, Lisa Marie eventually shared the song to bring closure.

In conclusion, August 16, 1977, marked the tragic end of Elvis Presley’s life, but his influence remains as strong as ever. His impact on music, culture, and subsequent artists is immeasurable. From tributes by renowned musicians to his own daughter’s introspection, Elvis’s legacy continues to resonate, reminding us of his enduring significance in the world of entertainment.