Don’t Be Cruel

This is a neat clip of one of Elvis’ last performances on the Ed Sullivan show. There’s three things that I really like about it.

1.) Elvis saw Jackie Wilson sing his song and pronounce the word telephone – tellyphone – and Elvis sings it like that here as a shout out to Wilson, who he was a huge fan of. I read it described somewhere as a white man (Elvis) imitating a black manĀ  (Wilson) imitating a white man (Elvis) imitating a black man (Elvis’ influences).

2.) In an age where everyone was standing up straight and enunciating with extra effort, Elvis is playfully full of slouch and coy humorous self deprication almost like “are you all really making this much of a fuss over me?” As if he hadn’t been planning for and dreaming of moments like these all his life.

3.) Elvis knows that he’s only being filmed from the waist up and the entire performance is a tease. He’s so restrained mockingly acting as if all hell will break loose if he were to put any energy into the song whatsoever. Then at the end he drives it home and quickly Elvis has left the building.

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