Friday, April 2, 2010

Suspicious Minds by Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley was the first great American rock star. He defined the teen idol, revolutionized rock music and left an everlasting impact on our culture. However, for a period he became irrelevant.

One of the first pop artists to expand into film (now a common occurrence), Elvis started out showing impressive range in “Love Me Tender.”

However his films quickly became jokes, the music he created which accompanied his film were no longer on the edge of rock’s development. Elvis, a man whose bottom half of his body was censored during television performances because of the suggestive ways his hips moved became about as threatening as the Jonas Brothers.

In 1969, Elvis decided he needed to make a change. He put together his legendary comeback special and jumped back into the studio. What emerged was From Elvis In Memphis, his first album not related to a film in eight years. It was country, gospel, soul, rock and most of it was Elvis. Distilled down to what made him change the world, Elvis gave us one last reminder of the power of his voice with his final number one hit before he died “Suspicious Minds.”

Like a great Motown song, the background instrumental and vocal singers are so well-crafted and full of soul, a monkey could record the lead vocal and this song would still sound awesome. The twirling guitar that opens song, the gliding strings lines, the pulsing horns in the second verse, the rolling bass line and the snap of the hi-hat rhythm all combine like ingredients in a stew. Every single piece can be easily separated and identified for their individual greatness but together they create a masterpiece of sounds and colors that doesn’t so much emote feeling but lives and breathes life.

The back-up sings act as a Greek chorus with the sounds of a gospel choir. They are haunting as they lead into the second chorus building up the exclamation “Yes I’m CRYING!! Ok, so I guess I was exaggerating a little bit, if a monkey did the lead vocals, this back-up singers would not save this song, but you get the point.

Elvis sings best when he’s in pain. The slight hiccup in his voice with the Shakira-like moan that he glides through the notes with are melodramatic but come across as genuine and heartfelt. His baritone has so much tone and depth, it’s like there’s a cathedral reverberating inside his body before his voice pours out of him. When Elvis sings “you can’t see the tears I feel I’m crying,” his voice slides down these pitches and even though his girlfriend can’t feel the tears he is crying, we can.

Emotionally “Suspicious Minds” sticks with us because it’s about something that we all struggle with in our lives, trust. When you trust someone you are taking a chance, but you need to take that chances or else you are destined for disappointment.

People act the way that we expect them to and if you believe that someone will betray your trust, chances are they will. Real love can only develop from believing that someone can be trusted and having that trust fulfilled. It’s not an exaggeration to be as torn as Elvis is when dealing with the way someone thinks.

How we perceive the people around us, shapes our interactions and “Suspicious Minds” reminds us how powerful and painful lack of faith can truly be.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I think Elvis struggled with his lack of trust after his divorce from Priscilla. He betrayed her trust aned it can be seen when he usually says, "Not much, I know" after the line- I never lied to you.