34 “Hound Dog” Big Mama Thornton (1953) It may be elitist to claim this original version is superior to that by a certain Tennessee truck driver a few years later. But given the trucks of money the Tennessee kid drove off with, it may also be justice.
33 “Jailhouse Rock” Elvis Presley (1957) Leiber and Stoller thought they were kidding when they wrote this, after all, weren’t they always kidding? Fortunately the Tennessee truck driver didn’t get the joke and, for once, in his best moment in his best movie, branded onto celluloid all his incendiary magnetism.
(Source: Steve Erickson, “L.A.’s Top 100,” Da Capo Best Music Writing 2002, 2002.)
The lesson, as always, is that whenever Elvis did something that couldn’t quite be ignored, it wasn’t anything he intended. But I have to admire the calm concision with which Erickson equates “elitism”–by which, of course, he means either anti-elitist elitism, or anti-anti-elitism (I never can keep them straight)–with “justice,” in a context where no rational meaning that can be attached to either word makes the least bit of sense.