All right, let me start this one off with a disclaimer: I am, under no circumstances, a huge Elvis fan. I don’t have any kind of velvet painting in my home. I don’t have a shot-glass purchased in a roadside stand in Memphis that says “I Brake for Graceland.” (I swear.) I don’t even know all of his songs by heart. (Well … okay … except “Blue Suede Shoes” … because Steve Porter sang that song in the 6th grade, and we 6th grade girls swooned.)
Anyway, now that my non-huge-fan status is solidified, I do have to say: There’s this one song of his …
I was borrowing my husband’s car the other day and this song came on his iPod: “If I Can Dream.”
My husband and I saw a documentary about Elvis about a year ago (because, ahem, I’m not a big fan, did I mention?). And, in it, Elvis performed “If I Can Dream” in front of a live audience. And, I have to say, I can’t remember ever seeing a more moving performance.
Now I’ve seen a few concerts in my day – I was a Journey fan in the ‘80s, and did the Duran-Duran thing. Saw Prince. Saw Bob Seger. (I know none of you are relating to me at all right now!) I’ve seen Don Henley several times, and Lyle Lovett a few. Saw James Taylor. Smokey Robinson (free tickets). I’ve watched a gazillion performances on television: U2. Rob Thomas. John Mayer. Jason Mraz. Van Morrison. Jack Johnson. Donovan Frankenreiter. …
But this performance by Elvis was above and beyond. And for me – not even a fan.
My husband had downloaded the song onto his iPod and I sat in the parking lot and listened to the entire thing. And I have to say – even the audio performance is moving. It gives me chills. Really.
So what is it about this song?
I’m thinking it has to do with how sincerely it’s delivered. I don’t even really know what he’s singing about, so I know it’s not that I’m relating to the words – it has to do with his delivery. I mean, he really seems to be experiencing the words as he sings them, thinking about every word, meaning them as he conveys them. It has a bit of a gospel sound, and he seems to be truly feeling each word as he sings it. Really connecting. Sometimes we hear performers sing a song and they don’t even seem to be hearing the words anymore. (Although, truly, who can blame them? I heard James Taylor say he’s performed “Fire and Rain” at least a thousand times.) But this one that Elvis does – I don’t know if it was only the third time he’d ever sung it, or what, but he was clearly feeling every single word. It’s terrific.
So what song gives you chills? Which one will you sit in a parking lot and listen to?