From a lot of many musicians who have come and gone throughout our history, the one who, in my opinion, has most indelibly impacted our society has to be Elvis Presley. His influence goes far and beyond the world of music. He and his gyrating hips in many ways have been just as definitive in creating moral and social changes in our society as the invention of the cotton gin was in changing forever a way of life never to return again.
With his music came the end of the “Age of Innocence” & the end of the “Age of Aquarius.” Elvis, with his wild body movements, so shocking and promiscuous that television would not even allow them to be seen, rocked society from its roots in its prim, proper and Puritan existence. Elvis made the young people in American society believe that it was acceptable to feel and respond to the music, to be uninhibited, not just in music but in all aspects of life. Many were certain that Elvis was the embodiment of the devil itself, who had come to Earth to break the very moral fiber upon which our country had been founded. In retrospect, it seems clear that our country’s values and mores began their spiral with the advent and acceptance of Elvis and his music.
Many throughout the years have accused Elvis of having “stolen” his music form Black society, with its beautiful spirituals and sultry blues. Indeed, its true that Elvis’s music is firmly based upon the Black spirituals and blues that he so loved and responded to as a young man. As he was standing outside Black churches listening to the music within or as he was talking and listening to Black musicians play the music which became known as the Blues, Elvis, I am sure, didn’t consciously make the decision to “steal” anyone’s music. No one can deny, however, that his music is based upon the Black culture and the music brought down form days of slavery. Certainly, even through Elvis may not have been its creator, he undoubtedly caused its popularity and message to grow worldwide.
Even though our society’s mores and values are changing radically today, these changes have had their firm beginnings, however small and subtle, in the music and works of Elvis Presley. For this massive influence upon the world, as well as the beauty of his music, Elvis Presley will always be known as the “King of Rock and Roll.”
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