Which of Elvis’ personas is your favorite? Is it the young, leather jacket clad crooner of the early 1960s or the bedazzled showman he became in the ’70s? Although he lived a tragically short life, dying of a heart attack at the age of 42, Elvis embodied many different styles of dress and music during his time in the spotlight. While there has never been another like him, rock and roll as we know it today grew directly from his legacy.
Take, for instance, MTV’s Unplugged. From Nirvana to Miley Cyrus, many artists have taken the stage to deliver intimate, acoustic versions of their popular music, but Elvis Presley was the very first to do so. In 1968, he appeared on NBC for a live TV show that would come to be known as “The Comeback Special.” There weren’t bright lights or big effects, just a small stage surrounded by a cozy audience that included Elvis’ wife, Priscilla. After the tumultuous events of the past year, most notably the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, it wasn’t just a comeback for Elvis – it was a comeback for the whole nation.
To be able to tune in and hear the familiar voice of Elvis was just what everyone needed. For the King, though, things would soon take a downward turn. His marriage with Priscilla would crumble, and his relationship with his daughter, Lisa, become estranged as a result. For comfort, he would turn to alcohol, pills, and food, a combination that resulted in a swift decline in his health. But here, in this clip, I think he’s my favorite version of himself. He’s talented, ridiculously handsome, and using his music to comfort a nation that had been lost in grief for too long. After all these years, his soulful rendition of “Blue Christmas” is just as soothing as ever.
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