Back in Time: Elvis influences 20th century pop culture

Elvis Presley brought new influences in music to American pop culture during the 20th century (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia).

Maria Glotfelter
Features Editor

Elvis Presley was an iconic American singer. On November 15, 1956, “Love Me Tender,” Elvis Presley’s song, came out. The song was based on a Civil War ballad called “Aura Lee.” The lyrics are accredited to Ken Darby, but Elvis added his own spin on it when he performed. With his terrific ear and talent in music, Elvis made the song his own. One would probably be hard-pressed to find someone who had not heard of Elvis Presley. Born in Tupelo, Mississippi, on January 8, 1935, Elvis grew up with the influences of pop and country music. Additionally, gospel music and R&B greatly influenced his music.

Elvis’s new blend of different genres in his style brought a totally new type of music to American culture. Elvis debuted with the famous Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee. Previously, Sun Records had covered mostly country songs, but Elvis brought a new genre along with his musical career: He brought covers of recent rhythm and blues songs to the recording studio. Elvis’s debut album entitled “Elvis Presley” also came out in 1956. Among the songs in this album were: “Blue Moon,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” and “I’ll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin’).”

His music career was exceedingly successful. Elvis won many awards for being an outstanding musician. Some of the awards include the following: 14 Grammy nominations (3 wins) from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Besides having a successful music career, Elvis also starred in various movies. He played in a total of 33 movies. Among the movies he starred in are: “Viva Las Vegas,” “Change of Habit,” “Wild in the Country,” and “It Happened at the World’s Fair.”

Elvis Presley brought new influences in music to American pop culture during the 20th century (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia).
Elvis Presley brought new influences in music to American pop culture during the 20th century (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia).

Although music is certainly the defining factor of his life, Elvis also had other important actions that are not as well known. Elvis served the United States Army from 1958-1960. His manager, Colonel Tom Parker, attempted to get an exception for Elvis, considering how the draft would affect his career. However, despite being given an exception to serve as musical performer in the Army, Elvis instead chose to serve as a soldier. Instead of joining the “Special Services,” Elvis chose to the take the route that many eligible young men were forced to. Even though it seems quite selfless, this act may also have helped Elvis’s career in the end. Elvis had received some bad publicity for his “sexually charged” performances, and this was just what he needed to turn around that bad publicity. Now, the American people would view him as more of a hero.

Elvis died on August 16, 1977, in Graceland, which was his Memphis home. Fans of Elvis and those interested in his legacy can now sign up to take tours there. Elvis was one of the most prominent people that influenced twentieth century popular culture, and he remains wellknown decades later because of that impact.