Rocks Off is celebrating Elvis week this week - the King would be 76 years old on Saturday. (Or hell, maybe he will be 76 years old on Saturday.) That's more than three-quarters of a century, but it just doesn't seem like a very long time.
Maybe that's because whether or not he actually died at Graceland in 1977, Elvis never left us. For more than 50 years now, the boy from Tupelo has exerted a profound influence on both music and popular culture. To wit, music's reigning King Kong, Kanye West, opened "Pinocchio Story" from 2008's 808s & Heartbreak with a nod to Elvis' "Can't Help Falling In Love."
To further illustrate just how much, Rocks Off combed a few Web sites this morning and discovered that just about everybody who is anybody has had something to say about the King, both in speech and in song.
"When Elvis was there, they were stopping everything. Elvis had the moment for real. While I'm here, its not all about 50 Cent, but it was all about Elvis."
""Elvis is iconic; a lot of performers today look to that for inspiration."
Bush ("Everything Zen," 1994):
"I don't believe that Elvis is dead"
President Jimmy Carter:
"Elvis Presley's death deprives our country of a part of itself. He was unique, irreplaceable. More than 20 years ago, he burst upon the scene with an impact that was unprecedented and will probably never be equaled. His music and his personality, fusing the styles of white country and black rhythm and blues, permanently changed the face of American popular culture. His following was immense. And he was a symbol to people the world over of the vitality, rebelliousness and good humor of this country." - following Presley's death in 1977
President Bill Clinton:
"You know, [George H.W.] Bush is always comparing me to Elvis in sort of unflattering ways. I don't think Bush would have liked Elvis very much, and that's just another thing that's wrong with him." - during the 1992 presidential campaign
"Elvis was a hero to most/ But he never meant shit to me, you see/ Straight up racist that sucker was/ Simple and plain/ Motherfuck him and John Wayne" - Public Enemy, "Fight the Power," 1989
"My whole thing [in "Fight the Power"] was the one-sidedness - like, Elvis' icon status in America made it like nobody else counted... My heroes came from someone else. My heroes came before him. My heroes were probably his heroes." - 2002
"Hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail."
Eminem ("Without Me," 2002):
"Little Hellions, kids feelin rebellious/ Embarrassed their parents still listen to Elvis/ They start feelin like prisoners, helpless/ 'Til someone comes along on a mission and yells BITCH!!!"
"No I'm not the first king of controversy/ I am the worst thing since Elvis Presley/ To do black music so selfishly/ And use it to get myself wealthy"
Vice President Al Gore:
"It's always been my dream to come to Madison Square Garden and be the warm-up act for Elvis." - 1992 Vice-Presidental nomination acceptance speech
Rev. Al Green:
"He broke the ice for all of us."
Merle Haggard ("I've Seen It Go Away," 2010)
"I seen Bob Wills and Elvis, when they did a show/ When you've seen the very best, the rest can't hardly play/ I've seen it, and I've seen it go away"
George Jones ("The King Is Gone (So Are You)," 1989)
"Last night I broke the seal on a Jim Beam decanter/ That looks like Elvis/ I soaked the label off a Flintstone Jelly Bean jar/ I cleared us off a place on that one little table that you left us/ And pulled me up a big ole piece of floor"
"I remember Elvis as a young man hanging around the Sun Studios. Even then, I knew this kid had a tremendous talent. He was a dynamic young boy. His phraseology, his way of looking at a song, was as unique as Sinatra's. I was a tremendous fan, and had Elvis lived, there would have been no end to his inventiveness."
Living Colour ("Elvis Is Dead," 1990)
"When the king died/ He was all alone/ I heard that when he died/ He was sitting on his throne"
"Nothing really affected me until I heard Elvis. If there hadn't been an Elvis, there wouldn't have been a Beatles."
Greil Marcus (Mystery Train: Images of America In Rock 'n Roll, 1975):
"If ever there was music that bleeds, this was it."
"That's my idol, Elvis Presley. If you went to my house, you'd see pictures all over of Elvis. He's just the greatest entertainer that ever lived."
Mojo Nixon ("Elvis Is Everywhere," 1987):
Elvis is in your jeans/ He's in your cheeseburgers/ Elvis is in Nutty Buddies!/ Elvis is in your mom!"
"He was the firstest with the mostest."
"He was just amazing and spectacular. He really opened the door to my whole love of music. Because of him, and because of the choice of his material, I found Smiley Lewis [and] all those great singers."
"His kind of music is deplorable, a rancid smelling aphrodisiac...It fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people." - 1957
"There have been many accolades uttered about Elvis' talent and performances through the years, all of which I agree with wholeheartedly. I shall miss him dearly as a friend. He was a warm, considerate and generous man." - 1977
"You have no idea how great he is, really you don't. You have no comprehension - it's absolutely impossible. I can't tell you why he's so great, but he is. He's sensational."
"It was like he came along and whispered some dream in everybody's ear, and somehow we all dreamed it."
"I wanted to say to Elvis Presley and the country that this is a real decent, fine boy, and wherever you go, Elvis, we want to say we've never had a pleasanter experience on our show with a big name than we've had with you." - Following Presley's final appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, January 1957
Gillian Welch ("Elvis Presley Blues," 2001):
Just a country boy that combed his hair/ And put on a shirt his mother made and went on the air/ And he shook it like a chorus girl/ And he shook it like a Harlem queen/ He shook it like a midnight rambler, baby/ Like you never seen"
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"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."
Neil Young ("He Was the King," 2005)
"The last time I saw Elvis/ He was riding in a pink Cadillac/ Wind was blowing through his hair/ And he never did look back/ He was the King"