Wednesday, December 9, 2009

50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong, Can They?

The most important thing for you to understand is that I'm not a huge Elvis Presley fan. I respect what he accomplished. I think he was great at what he did. He recorded some songs I enjoy. But I would never identify myself as an Elvis "fan" the way I'm a fan of bands like Devo or Blue Oyster Cult.

Having SAID that...

A lot has been written about the imperfections of the current radio scene. To me, nothing speaks more to the uselessness of today's radio "formats" than the lack of Elvis Presley in what is labeled as "Classic Rock". Elvis has been called "The King of Rock 'n' Roll" longer than I've been alive. Yet, I've never, ever heard his music on a Classic Rock station. I suppose you COULD argue that Presley's truly iconic songs pre-date what is considered the "Classic Rock Era".

First, the "Classic Rock Era" is something invented by programmers, not a genuine movement. Any umbrella classification that covers the Moody Blues and Motley Crue equally, and counts them as part of the same thing is not something I can take even remotely seriously. Second, even if you consider Classic Rock a function of a certain period of time, Elvis still had plenty of fine songs during it. "Burning Love", anyone? "In The Ghetto"? "Kentucky Rain"? "Way Down"?

Some would charge that none of Presley's songs fit the Classic Rock mold. Maybe that's why they are omitted, but I still find it appalling. Classic Rock as it is currently defined encompasses heavy metal, psychedelic, glam, progressive, Southern rock, and dozens of quirky songs and genres. There is apparently plenty of room for all of this in Classic Rock.

But there's no place in Classic Rock for Elvis Presley.


  1. used to be in the 70s (when what is now "classic" rock was current) that there were always Oldies stations that played stuff from the 50s and early 60s (probably pre-summer of Love) stuff. I remember when the local oldies station left.

    the local classic rock station- KGB, plays the same songs it played 30 years ago, plus now plays the "new wave" stuff it wouldn't back then.

    great post.

  2. Our stations seem to constantly be in a state of turnover. The "oldies" station has morphed into two other formats since it changed over, and it didn't even start out as an oldies station in the first place.

    I was musing that what used to be our local Top 40 station now plays a bunch of songs it never used to play when they were current hits. Can you believe they didn't include "Something About You" in their rotation until it made the Top 10?

    Thanks! As I told my friend who was formerly in the radio biz, I enjoyed playing Devil's Advocate here. :)

  3. I would explain the Elvis bit as being the difference between "Rock and Roll" and just plain "Rock," but I think those are my personal boundaries.

    Radio station genres and record store genres (wait, are there even record shops anymore?) never made any sense to me. Huzzah for the digital age and the ability to dictate your own genre labels.

  4. I tend to feel like "genre" is an overrated concept in general. I like what I like, and hang the sense of it.

    And yep, there are record shops still. They are rare, and actual records in them are rarer.