Unfamiliar Energy

Two things came to mind when I saw this clip, first David Cameron and this Charlie Brooker piece, especially this bit:

Like an ostensibly realistic human character in a state-of-the-art CGI cartoon, he’s almost convincing – assuming you can ignore the shrieking, cavernous lack of anything approaching a soul. Which you can’t.

I see the sheen, the electronic calm, those tiny, expressionless eyes . . .

and second the line from Jay Electronica’s Exhibit C:

That’s why when you talk the tough talk I never feel ya.

You sound real good and you play the part well, but the energy you givin off is so unfamiliar.

36 thoughts on “Unfamiliar Energy

  1. Elvis in Hollywood = big fat unmissable target.
    If you told me you’d read Last Train To Memphis and Careless Love, Peter Guralnick’s two magisterial biographies of Elvis (the first one ends as he joins the army appropriately) then I might engage in an Elvis debate.

    • I couldn’t possibly pretend to have an ELvis debate, I grew up with a suspicion of Elvis so I know very ittle about him. I like a couple of songs of his, but I don’t really have a strong opinion either way on Elvis as a person. I probably know more about the perception and symbol of Elvis, probably something he had little to do with.

  2. I’ve always been left cold by Elvis. Don’t want to enter an Elvis debate (I think we nearly did on RR one time, and then veered away just in time – I think Mystery Train started it?). I’ll say that I just don’t get him. I don’t think he’s the least bit sexy, as many a person claims, and his music is lacking in soul and heart. (To my ears, anyway)

    I think it’s interesting to compare him with Frank Sinatra. I don’t always like Sinatra’s music, either, compared with other versions of most of the songs he sings. But Man With the Golden Arm was amazing.

  3. fair enough. I think many people feel the same way – he is rather rammed down your throat whatever era you grew up in. The punks cheered on the night he died until Danny Baker jumped onstage at the Vortex and gave a speech about rock’n’roll.
    I’m a twitchy Elvis defender, having ignored him until the age of er about 35, when I suddenly fell for his many charms.
    Check this out :

    Imagine it’s 1956 and the teenager has scarcely been acknowledged yet. He’s mimicking country n western and black rock n roll and making them both his own. It’s very much the early template for the video you posted which is the polished-up recycled commercialisation of a rock and roll sensation. It’s a sad and instructive tale. We’ve repeated it many times since. I won’t go on. He re-arranged every song he ever covered, and pretty much improved them all, until you get to Vegas anyway. Major artist.

    • Pretty much improved them all?

      I don’t want to screw up ejay’s post with my contentiousness, but… I just don’t get it.

  4. “It’s very much the early template for the video you posted which is the polished-up recycled commercialisation of a rock and roll sensation. It’s a sad and instructive tale. ”
    That’s also something I wanted to hint at. In the Hey Bossa Nova clip, it looks like he’s performing a parody of himself.

  5. There is very very little music that I don’t like. Didn’t used to be the case of course, but I can say with humility that my ears have expanded with age, and stuff I used to hate has now become embraced. Growing old is a wonderful thing.

    • I’ve always been open to every kind of music, and I too feel that there is little music (or food) that I don’t like. But…the older I get the more I crave sincerity and soul. I know they are overused words, but I mean them sincerely with all my soul. And…I’ll leave it at that.

  6. This is the ’68 comeback concert. First scroll to 2.40 on this video to see Elvis taking the piss out of his own Hollywood career.

    Then Scroll through to 7.00 to hear Elvis talking about music, not very lucidly, mispronouncing the Byrds (!) but undeniable what he’s trying to say – it’s all sourced in black music.

    Elvis loved black music and was a fan of gospel and R&B. He couldn’t change who he was, a white kid from Kentucky, but his love for the music shines through. There’s a great CD where he talks about his roots and introduces recordings by the Golden Gate Quartet, Wynonie Harris and Bob Wills among many others.

  7. As a child of the 60’s, I have no real reference or memory of Elvis, but like Magicman I’m coming to a late appreciation too. It’s not the Hound Dogs and Jailhouse Rocks that do it for me thought, it’s the love songs. Or course I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You. But I’ll take Elvis’ cover of this over Willie Nelson’s in a heartbeat.

    I’ll take this one too

  8. I like the Jay Electronica track!

    It’s odd that he would use the phrase “unfamiliar energy,” because When I’ve seen Elvis I’ve always thought it was a very strange energy. He’s moving, but I don’t believe it somehow, and I certainly don’t feel it.

    The more I think about “unfamiliar energy” the more brilliant I think it is.

    • About Jay Electronica, I saw him in concert last week, and left very impressed. I came to the show knowing only that track, so didn’t really know what to expect but I think his tag as the next big thing for “real hip hop” fits. He came in with a big “Fuck Solar” T-shirt, told everybody to join him on stage, then did the finale (Exh C) in the crowd, and then stayed in the crowd after the show was over, taking picture and meeting the fans. When I left, about an hour later, he was still in there. He seems to be a really good lyricist, and he knows it, he repeated at least one verse a cappella for every song, and a lot of people in the crowd knew almost every word as they tried to keep up with him.

  9. I feel the ubiquitous presence of Elvis in popular music (you could include Frank Sinatra & The Beatles as well) has devalued a lot of his music, but to say he has no soul, you only need to listen to the Sun Sessions – my Exhibit A (c. Jay Electronica) for his defence.

  10. I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You was the first Elvis song I liked actually, but I think my favourite version of You Are Always On My Mind may be by the Pet Shop Boys. The Comeback Special looks cool, he’s definitely more appealing. My point was really about the original clip, based on an evening of viewing Fun In Acapulco and Jailhouse Rock on the same night, dubbed in French no less, not on his whole career.

    • The Pet Shop Boys’ version is BRILLIANT. Genius move to drop the ‘haves’ at the end of the first couple of lines – ‘could’ and ‘should’ much better words to end on. And the scansion is better in terms of the music. (Not that that is the main reason I love the version, but it helps!) Plus, it had an ace video with Joss Ackland being all creepy in the back of a cab.

  11. @steenbeck – for someone who “doesn’t want to get into a debate about Elvis” you sure are contentious about it ! I rather suspect you’re itching to get into a debate about Elvis and in fact, you have succeeded in doing so.
    Original clip was Hollywood Elvis, being the tooth-whitened version of the young rocker from the fifties who had the excitement kicked out of him in the army. There’s an interesting debate/conversation about that process, and about how he started ‘doing Elvis’ for the camera. Re: the lip-curling snippet in the ’68 comeback.
    But to troll on here and say that Elvis has no soul or sincerity whilst claiming that you don’t want to debate it is simply bad manners.

    • Hi Magic, we’ve all gotten ourselves into discussions we didn’t intend to. I don’t think there’s any way you could say Steen was “trolling” by giving her opinion on Mr. Presley, even less that it was bad manners.

    • I never said he didn’t have sincerity or soul. I simply said the older I get the more I crave those things. I actually wasn’t talking about Elvis at that point, but perhaps being too tangential.

      Sorry, Ejay.

  12. I think it’s in poor taste to dump on an artist that others hold in high regard, indeed may have an emotional attachment to. We don’t do it on RR, how is it cool here ?
    I find also there is a strange contradiction in “not wanting to get into a discussion” followed by remarks like “no soul or sincerity”.
    Best not to contribute if all you have is negative.
    I certainly didn’t intend to get into that discussion but steen came onto the thread and used fairly negative language about an artist whom I happen to greatly admire, and I’m not about to let that happen without responding.
    It’s a bit like saying Arsenal are shit but I don’t want to talk about it. Which I think is bad manners frankly.

    • I’m very very sorry, Magicman, that I commented at all. I suppose I thought that Elvis had enough fans that he wouldn’t mind if one person just didn’t understand his appeal. But of course, that’s not taking into account your feelings as a fan.

      I’ll endeavor never to come trolling into a thread with negative language again.

      Sorry if I upset you.

  13. Steenbeck – thank you x I’m sorry I’m clearly over-sensitive, it’s the way I was built, apologies for my over -reaction. But you did say “no soul or heart” above which is pretty harsh about anyone whether they sing or not.
    Apology accepted gracefully with warm thanks

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