Culture | Elvis deserves serious consideration

Issue: "The Bush mandate," Nov. 16, 2002

With the publication last year of William F. Buckley Jr.'s novel Elvis in the Morning, Elvis Presley-once the poster boy for all things rebellious-officially entered the conservative consciousness as a subject worthy of serious consideration, appreciation, and sympathy. Indeed, listening to the 31 songs compiled on Elv1s: 30 #1 Hits (RCA) (a "bonus" remix of "A Little Less Conversation" is No. 31), it's hard to imagine that Elvis was ever perceived as anything other than a uniquely talented and versatile singer.

His status as the definitive rock 'n' roll singer has never been in question; what makes 30 #1 Hits valuable is its reminder to those who would dismiss Elvis as the Clown Prince of Kitsch that he sang almost every other style of popular American music too, and that he often did so better than anyone else. For conservatives, only one stumbling block remains: the inability to hear "In the Ghetto" without thinking of Rush Limbaugh's anti-environmentalist theme song, the Paul Shanklin parody "In a Yugo."

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