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|PLAY BECOMES HISTORY LESSON ON THE KING
February 28, 2017 - By Larry Eskridge for the Daily Ledger Reporter / Elvis Express Radio
Mention this name to students in Lewistown and these are the responses.
"He's the king."
"He brought something different to the table."
"His personality presented itself in his songs."
So who is this titan of music? Kurt Cobain? Justin Bieber? Kanye West? Dave Mathews? Bruno Mars? Jason Derulo?
All right, I have no idea who that last one is. I just know he was one of the headliners named for this year's state fair.
In any case, the answer is "None of the above."
The singer in question is Elvis Presley, whose music fills the show they are rehearsing, "All Shook Up."
For these youngsters, none of whom were alive when he died, let alone when he was the biggest star on earth, the very name Elvis Presley still radiates success and charisma and
glamor. And not just for his music.
His hair, his face as well as his unique sound were part of the Presley package.
"The ladies thought he was gorgeous," they declared. "He was a heart throb."
Nor did they consider Presley a museum piece.
"He had a huge, very profound impact on everybody after him," they said. "There's something from him in the performances of Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber. He was an
But just when I started to feel hope for this generation, that they were not so isolated and bereft of culture as I once thought, reality reared its ugly, gray head.
When I asked them about the controversy Presley inspired when he first started, the astonished looks reminded me the generation gap was alive and well.
None of them could really understand the sexual and racial innuendoes Presley brought in the Fifties and early Sixties. They didn't realize how risqué his songs or his performance
The bewilderment really hit home when I mentioned Presley's first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. First of all, none of them had a clue as to who Ed Sullivan was. Second, the
looks of astonishment which greeted my story of Elvis being broadcast from the waist up to hide the "obscene" nature of his gyrations would have been funny if they had not made
me feel so old.
It was even more shocking to them as for many Elvis best work was his beautiful Gospel recordings.
Of course in this day and age, they agreed, you see far worse things on television and social media.
But that stands to reason when one realizes the storyline of this show was by an author who was, and in some ways is, quite controversial himself. The plot comes from a play
entitled "Twelfth Night," written by William Shakespeare.
And while the idea of linking Elvis and the Bard of Avon together may raise some eyebrows, there is no denying both have changed the way we look at art forever.
"This is real music," one youngster said of the Elvis tunes in the show.
"As the composer John Cage said, everything is music," added another.
Not bad for an artist who was popular with their parents.
"Their grandparents," interjected the show's choreographer, who also happens to be the mother of one of the students.
Ah yes, Elvis still has the power to provoke.
Lewistown High School will present "All Shook Up" at 7 p.m. March 10 and 11 and at 3 p.m. March 12.