He has been on my favorite playlists for years and I saw a bunch of his 29 movies, but I had never seen him perform on the big screen. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised when local cinemas broadcasted the Elvis Presley comeback special of 1968. Last Thursday, it was exactly 41 years ago since Elvis passed away. It was also 50 years ago that he made his comeback special after several years of ‘live performance silence’. Enough reasons and a good time to show the Elvis comeback special in theatres on the 16th of August.
The year was 1968 when the Elvis comeback special originally aired. After 8 years of absence, Elvis returned to the stage with this special. Before the special was broadcasted in cinema, there was a little documentary starring Priscilla Presley and Steve Binder (producer of the comeback special). They took us back to the set of 1968. Elvis was quite nervous for his big show, because times had changed and new bands (which are now classic bands to us), like the Beatles had made their entrance. So Elvis definitely felt pressure to make his comeback a good one. Well he did. And how.
The initial idea was to make it a Christmas special, since it would be broadcasted in December. Steve Binder advised Elvis to make it a comeback special with his greatest hits. The success of the show proved how great that decision was. The show was the beginning of several succesfull years of touring for Elvis, his “second” breakthrough. On the other hand, I can’t help thinking that it was also the beginning of the end for Elvis in a personal way. His health detoriated real fast in the 1970s and resulted in his unfortunate death not even 10 years after the comeback show was broadcasted. Thankfully, his music lives on, even 41 years after his death.
Elvis comeback special: the show
The comeback special was in a setting that you don’t see often anymore in the current music industry. It was a very intimate stage with ‘just’ a few 100 fans enjoying Elvis and his co-players. Imagine being on that show 1968 as fan, not knowing that you would actually be presente in a show that would later be described as legendary. Because once again Elvis would write history with his performances.
The show was a combination of live performances and videoclips. The live performances were lovely, because you see Elvis jamming with his friends and it looks like he’s just jamming in his living room and especially…joking around. In this comeback special you really notice the natural charm of him as performer, but also how he doesn’t take himself really seriously. The guy seriously had sense of humor, which you can definitely notice in his performance of ‘Heartbreak Hotel’:
The original lyrics of the song ‘Love me Tender’ include the text: “Love me tender, love me sweet.., you have made my life complete”. In the show Elvis starts singing this song and very unexpected sings: “You have made my life a wreck…ehhh I mean complete”. And there are more funny moments that really made it a unforgettable performance. My favorite songs on this show are his live versions of ‘One night’, ‘Are you lonesome tonight’ and last but not least:’If I can dream’. That last song has an even deeper meaning when you think about the tumultuous 1960s in the US.
Let’s not forget his legendary leather suit. Probably his second most popular outfit, after the 1970s glitter jumpsuit. Wearing a leather jumpsuit led (obviously) to hot circumstances. Meaning, Elvis was sweating the whole time and asked his (female) fans for a handkerchief several times. After using it, he nicely gave it to the (very excited) ladies as the gentleman he was.
If you like rock and roll music (or Elvis) then I would highly recommend this show. It gives you a glimpse of the musical 1960s with Elvis in his top days. As I was sitting in the cinema, I looked around and saw a lot of people from which you could see that they experienced Elvis in his golden years (1950s-1970s). So they could literally recapture memories.
On the other hand, there were people like me who were born long after Elvis passed away, but who wanted to get a glance of the good old times when Elvis rocked the charts. After the peak of his musical career from the 1950s to the 1970s and all these years after his death, Elvis still has the power to bring several generations together through his timeless music. Now that’s what I call legacy.
Picture: Elvis in Jailhouse Rock | 1957 (via Pixabay)