Song 2: The Kinks/You Really Got Me

Posted in Dancing about architecture on August 21st, 2008 by bill

The Kinks, on top of the world.

Levitin left Elvis off his list because the person he was making the list for “had heard Elvis Presley, so I didn’t need to cover that.” This left me with the decision of whether to do the same. For serious Elvis people, this would be no decision at all; the question would be which Elvis song to put on. “That’s All Right, Mama”? “Blue Suede Shoes”? “Heartbreak Hotel”? “Hound Dog”?

But I am not a serious Elvis person. I enjoy his work, admire his talent, and yet there’s something lacking in his music that is essential to what I think of as rock’n’roll. For lack of a better word, I would call it balls. It’s laughable to me that he was once considered so dangerous, because however salacious the material, there’s always a softness about Elvis, an absence of real menace. Not that there’s anything wrong with that — it’s part of what made him lovable, and vulnerable. Some cynics will try to tell you that Elvis was the white devil who stole rock’n’roll, watered it down, and sold it to the mainstream, but in my version of the story he was a guileless soul who happened to be the right guy in the right place at the right time, and got famous beyond all comprehension. Which is the tragedy of Elvis, and that’s more than I want to get into here; if you don’t already know the story, read Peter Guralnick’s Careless Love. (As a sidenote, if I was going to pick an Elvis song, it would probably be “Baby, What You Want Me to Do?” from the ’68 comeback special — the rawest and realest he ever sounded.)
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