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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Happy birthday, King

Posted Thursday, January 8, 2009, at 12:14 AM

Best sideburns since the Civil War.
74 years ago today, perhaps the most famous person of the 20th century was born in Tupelo, Miss.

That's right, today is Elvis Aaron Presley's birthday. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention it.

It's strange the way even musicians and fans of my age, who were born after his death and well after his heyday, still seem to need to pay homage to the King.

But I'd say this is as much about Elvis the cultural icon, as it is about Elvis the musician. I have a daily calendar featuring a rock 'n' roll quote every day. Here's today's:

"I don't know anything about music -- in my line, you don't have to." -- Elvis Presley

I don't know where or when Elvis said that, but I think it says a lot about what the music industry is. It's about entertainment. Elvis was a star because, yes, he had a good voice, but just as much because of his look, the feel of the music and the sheer animal magnetism of those early performances.

He gave people something they had never seen before. It scared a lot of people, but it intrigued even more.

And that tradition has carried on throughout music. Black Sabbath shocked people. Kiss shocked people. The Sex Pistols shocked people. Marilyn Manson shocked people.

But as odd as it might seem, Elvis did it long before any of them. And he certainly did it better.

So Elvis was right. He didn't have to know much about music. But he knew everything about putting on a great show. And that's why we still talk about him today.

(As a side note, in the hundreds of CDs I own, only one of them is an Elvis album, and it's of Christmas music. Elvis is THE definitive artist of the holiday genre. But my favorite Elvis song is a gospel number, "Peace in the Valley." "Suspicious Minds" is my favorite non-Christmas, non-religious Elvis song.)

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Amen Jared. There was certainly a magnetism which attracted young and old. Even now sometimes you just need to hear an Elvis song. Good job.

-- Posted by redhatter on Fri, Jan 9, 2009, at 3:14 PM

Oh man, you got me all shook up baby. Thanks for the memories and way to don't be cruel.

-- Posted by HelloMcFly on Sat, Jan 10, 2009, at 2:06 PM

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...and the beat goes on...
Jared Jernagan
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Jared Jernagan is a 2003 graduate of Wabash College and has been in journalism since 2005.
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