Maestro visits Elvis memorial

Maestro visits Elvis memorial


norman lebrecht

April 07, 2021

From Leonard Slatkin’s online journal:

.What made this experience interesting was our realization that Elvis was a part of my childhood but not Cindy’s. She made all kinds of discoveries at Graceland, which for me were mostly memories. The big cultural breakthrough of her childhood was the Beatles. But the Fab Four, as well as almost every other pop and rock group, could not have existed without Presley. Listening to his music, which was piped into virtually every one of the exhibitions, we could not help but be impressed with his perfect sense of timing and the way he could convey the meaning of every song, whether a hip-shaking number, gospel tune or dusky ballad.

His prolific borrowing of material made us think about how much he owed to the Black culture in his native Tennessee. Was it appropriation or an unknowing attempt to find a new voice? Was Presley an anachronism, expanding genres in whatever way he could despite the social rules of the day? Were his managers and producers so keen to cash in that they never thought about who they might be offending?…


Read on here.


  • henry williams says:

    i have box sets of the 50s 60s 70s
    every track is a gem.

    • Rogerio says:

      I agree.
      Every one of Maestro Slatkin’s recordings is a treasure of human accomplishment.
      And how sweet of him to take the time to shine his light of musical brilliance upon this guy from Tennessee … what’s-his-name…
      Thank you Maestro! Thank you, thank you!
      Now on a more serious note;
      The quality of what Slatkin writes about Elvis is second only to those old Anthea Creston chronicles here on SD.
      Remember how she got a job as second violin in a renowned German Quartet and soon afterwards fired the other three and went at it alone?

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Of course the new racist voting laws in Georgia are shameful and despicable, and it won’t be long before they are challenged in the courts.
    But on the subject of Elvis, Slatkin falls into the usual trope about Elvis’ “borrowing” of musical style:
    “His prolific borrowing of material made us think about how much he owed to the Black culture in his native Tennessee.”
    Nonsense. The poor white musicians of the day played all the time with poor black musicians – just not on stage or in honky-tonks or on records. Southern segregation laws saw to that.
    Many a white musician was taught from childhood by blacks, and vice-versa. The musical culture was common and shared, just as the poverty was shared, and influences went both ways.
    Elvis didn’t “borrow” anything; he started out by singing the music he always sang. The later hip-shaking Las Vegas-y stuff, treacly ballads, and cutesy-poo rock numbers were due to the malign influence of his shyster manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker.
    If you want to hear the REAL Elvis, listen to any of his early Sun Records discs, or his blues singing (as evidenced on a great RCA CD, “Reconsider Baby”, PCD1-5418).

    • Hayne says:

      How is the Georgia election law racist?
      This may be difficult for you but please
      BE SPECIFIC. Regurgitating the media
      is not an answer.

    • henry williams says:

      his best records were the sun issues. the same with johnny cash.

      • Greg Bottini says:

        I agree with you, henry, although both Elvis and Johnny made some pretty great records after their days at Sun Records were done.

  • CarlD says:

    Thank you, maestro! I always enjoy your blogging.

  • Don Ciccio says:

    I love donkeys.

  • J Barcelo says:

    Back in those days no one knew about or cared about this bogus “cultural appropriation”. Elvis sang music in style where he grew up – Appalachia. It was a wonderful mix of many cultures. The King knew how to use this material to connect with people – and boy, did he! His audiences loved him in ways that any classical performer in that era could only dream about.

  • Gustavo says:

    Elvis is not dead, he just went home.

  • Larry says:

    Elvis was not a “native of Tennessee.” He was born on Tupelo, Mississippi.

  • Nick says:

    Elvis grew up in black neighborhoods since his youngest days (Tupelo’s Shake Rag). He regularly attended, as a kid, East Trigg Baptist Church in Memphis, a black gospel church headed by the great composer and pastor Herbert Brewster. In other words, he sang the music he had been surrounded by his entire life: a combination of R&B, Country and Gospel. Anyone claiming that he swooped in and “borrowed” or “appropriated” is, sorry to say, speaking out of ignorance. Read a book on his life or watch “Elvis: Return to Tupelo” and get educated.

  • Daniel Kravetz says:

    Elvis was a native of Mississippi, not Tennessee.