“Comments on the Presliad”
Elvis Presley brought together Americans, and by those means: a culture. In the excerpts from Griel Marcus’ Essay, “The Presliad”, he explores the effect Elvis had on the polarization of Rock’n’Roll and the influence he maintained throughout his career at the cost of being a figurehead for the insatiable American music culture. What originally seems like a Tribute to the “Rock’n’Roll King” Elvis Presley, can quickly be seen as a call out to why he was so influential and to what end did that popularity serve?
The need for such a figurehead comes long before Elvis was made a national icon (1956). He wasn’t the first to experiment with the fusion of different music styles, but he was the first to be successful in pandering the crowd to accept it. In the 40’s, racism was a brush that painted even the most common nuisances of life and music was seen to have very explicit socio-racial implication. Elvis, being a young boy at the time was influenced by a variety of different cultures and by extension, the music played specific to that culture. The three distinct Genres of music at that time were Country, Pop & R&B (Soul). Country having been introduced much earlier was already engrained into society as a White brand of music and Soul as an African-American brand. Elvis was exposed to and personified both of them, bridging the gap segregating music listening, in society. Being originally marketed as a Country star but playing a walking R&B bass, he made it possible for budding interest, on both sides of the cultural fence, to flourish. The result?
“…Presley's career almost has the scope to take America in. The cultural range of his music has expanded to the point where it includes not only the hits of the day, but also patriotic recitals, pure country gospel, and really dirty blues…Elvis has emerged as a great artist, a great rocker… a great symbol of potency… and yes, a great