Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Covered by Elvis?

As you might recall, three weeks ago I wrote about the lack of Elvis Presley in the so-called "Classic Rock" format. This entry generated a bit more discussion than usual, and that didn't really surprise me. I mean, love him or hate him, Elvis is a kind of inescapable figure in our culture, no? That's part of why we've come back to "The King" today.

You see, my musings on Presley's place in the current radio firmament did not spring out of a void; rather, it was an outgrowth of another, more whimsical question that has dogged me for years. Elvis Presley's death was, shall we say, somewhat untimely. The man was only 42 when he died. Let's say that Elvis had lived to a ripe old age - a minimum of another 20 years. There is no telling what he could have done musically in that time.

If you were paying attention to the title, you see where I'm heading. I have often wished that Elvis could have lived to record cover versions of certain pop songs that probably never occurred to him while he was alive. As the inimitable Damon Foster pointed out to me on Facebook, you can get an idea what this might have been like from certain Elvis impersonators. He cited The King ("Smells like Teen Spirit", "Whole Lotta' Rosie", "Somethin' Else") and the Las Vegas act Metal Elvis ("Burning Love" mixed with "Paranoid"). I also remember a band called Dread Zeppelin, which was fronted by an Elvis soundalike singing reggae versions of Led Zeppelin songs.

Those are all cool, but I can't help but wonder what it would have been like for the real Elvis to put his stamp on songs we don't identify with him. The two that have always haunted me are the Doors' "Light My Fire" and Billy Idol's "White Wedding". Really, you could pick any Doors or Billy Idol original, but those two in particular capture my imagination when I think of Elvis covering them.

So today's post asks a question, which is this : If Elvis had lived, what song(s) do you wish he would have recorded? When I posted this on Facebook, Danny Tokarz admitted that he would have loved to hear the King cover the Misfits' "Vampira", and my younger sister Amy Elam admitted to a fondness for Presley taking a crack at Nelly's "Hot In Here". Now, gentle reader, it is time for YOU to chime in, and let your voice be heard on this vital question for our civilization.

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