Elvis may have left the building for good 36 years ago, but a sixteen-year-old French Canadian, David Thibault, breathes new life into old memories, especially with his rendition of Blue Christmas—one of ten of the impersonator’s numbers available at YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VwWRpIinxs).
Thibault’s rendition of Blue Christmas had over 600,000 hits as of last Thursday, according to the New York Daily News. After viewing the clip and several others of a young acoustic-guitar-playing kid—replete with greased-back hair, I couldn’t help but wax nostalgic about Presley’s impact on me and American culture.
“Elvis Presley is probably the most polarizing figure in 20th century popular music,” according to Todd Williams writing for Cribnotes last year (http://clatl.com/cribnotes/archives/2012/08/20/why-i-stopped-hating-elvis-presley). “To a significant number of people he’s ‘The King,’ a hip-swiveling icon from rock ’n’ roll’s early years who represented a generation of young people ready to throw off the sexual and racial shackles of the previous era. To others, he’s a hollow culture-thief, an overrated musical charlatan who profited off of music some feel he had no business recording in the first place.
“A quick run of the man’s history and you can see validity in both arguments. But if you dig a little deeper, you begin to realize that both of these ‘Elvises’ are largely fabrications—variations on a musical superstar—created to help both sides come to terms with the duality of his legacy.”
Regardless of how Elvis is viewed by history, his influence on young Mr. Thibault and the first generation of teens cannot be ignored. After listening to the young Canadian and reading Williams’ article, I’ve decided to stop second guessing and just enjoy Elvis’ music for what it was.
May you have the Christmas of your choice: a Bing Crosby white; The Killers red; or The Barenaked Ladies’ green. I’m still partial to blue.