I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Friday, February 11, 2011

5 Elvis Songs that Mean Something to Me

Elvis - Aloha from Hawaii
I used a photo similar
to this for my drawing.
Continuing with the Name 5 series ...

My grandmother used to have a picture I drew of Elvis hanging on one of her walls. During a short drawing phase I went through, I used colored pencils, trying to re-create a side-profile headshot of Elvis singing onstage during his concern in Hawaii in 1973. The drawing turned out well – better than anything I drew before or since. I wish I knew where that drawing was now.

At night, I would often slip one of Elvis’ albums out of its cover, place it on the turntable in my room and lie on my back with the speakers scooted up to both ears, getting lost in his music. His sincere delivery coupled with his back story always made me feel a connection with his music. I was only a kid, but I was shy, overweight and my parents were divorced, so I knew pain when I heard it.

Here are 5 Elvis songs that mean something to me:

1. Kentucky Rain. A lonely song about a guy who can’t understand why his girl left him so he goes after her, in a non-creepy sort of way. You can hear the desperation in the chorus: “Kentucky rain keeps pouring down / And up ahead’s another town that I’ll go walking through / With the rain in my shoes, searchin for you / In the cold Kentucky rain, in the cold Kentucky rain.”

2. Suspicious Minds. I listened to the All Things Considered podcast earlier this week that featured an interview with Over the Rhine. During the interview, singer Karin Bergquist made this comment, “Some people write love songs about what happens in the beginning of a relationship. We’ve sort of moved on to what happens during the bulk of that relationship – the work, the investment, the commitment, you know? And some of it doesn’t really sound all that sexy.” I hear all of that when I hear Elvis sing Suspicious Minds.

3. In the Ghetto. I wasn’t born into poverty like the young man who is the subject of this song, but when I heard Elvis sing, “People, don’t you understand / the child needs a helping hand / or he’ll grow to be an angry young man someday / Take a look at you and me, / are we too blind to see, / do we simply turn our heads / and look the other way” I related to the boy’s loneliness and vulnerability.

4. Are You Lonesome Tonight? Loneliness, emptiness, a fractured relationship, doubt, lies – all wrapped up in one song. When Elvis sang, “Is your heart filled with pain, shall I come back again? Tell me dear, are you lonesome tonight?” it gave me a better understanding about love. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it misunderstands. And sometimes it’s broken. But it always remembers the needs of the other person.

5. How Great Thou Art. Growing up, I never really knew what this song meant, but I always got the sense that the message was bigger than me. As I got older, Elvis’ version of the song became an anthem in my family. It was my grandmother’s favorite song – the same grandmother who hung the picture I drew of Elvis in her home. She used to tell her grandchildren she wanted this song performed at her funeral. We granted her wish.

A couple of months before Elvis died, he performed the song live and it is available on YouTube. Watch the video if you have a few minutes. Look for eternity is his eyes. And when you get to the 1:44 mark, look for it in the eyes of the woman in the crowd who is on the verge of tears.


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