i have been wanting to watch more documentaries for some time now, so i have set myself the goal of watching a new one each month this year. i’ve found quite a few that sound interesting, and i decided to begin my year with one that sounded right up my alley: elvis ’56. january is elvis’ birth month, and it’s been exactly 60 years since he became a star, so it seemed only fitting to begin my year with a documentary about elvis’ breakout year.
narrated by levon helm, elvis ’56 takes you through that pivotal year in elvis’ career. having just turned 21, and seeing moderate success with his first records recorded at sun studio in memphis, elvis travelled to new york city and made his first live television appearance, and the country went crazy. at a time when wholesome variety shows were at the height of their popularity, elvis’ youth and rockabilly sound – along with those famous gyrating hips – took everyone by storm.
in his first year as a star, elvis played variety shows from new york to los angeles and also headlined the mississippi state fair in his birthplace of tupelo. he had 5 gold albums within the calendar year, and elvis merchandise brought in $22 million of revenue [the equivalent of roughly $200 million today!]. needless to say, he shattered a number of records and won innumerable hearts in 1956.
clocking in at just under 1 hour, elvis ’56 covers what that first year of stardom was like for elvis. his first gold albums. his first major motion picture. his first live shows in new york city, las vegas, and los angeles. his first highs and his first lows. his first year, a year which left the music industry forever changed.
even as a lifelong elvis fan, i learned a lot from this documentary. i saw photos i’d never before seen. i listened to audio clips i hadn’t heard. i heard songs i didn’t know. i’m not really sure what i expected, but elvis ’56 surpassed any expectations i might have had.
what is your favourite documentary? which one should i watch next month?
featured image via.