Elvis Presley: “Viva Las Vegas”
Ahh yes…heading to Las Vegas. On the one hand, not my type of town at all, and certainly not my typical choice of vacation, but on the other hand, fully enjoyable nonetheless. I wouldn’t be going, after all, if I didn’t like it – I didn’t have to be talked into going. But here I am on a plane bound for the Strip, for the first time in 15 years, and with my mind focused on casinos and the like I would be denying the obvious choice if I were to try to pick a song for today that was unrelated to the trip.
When it comes to Las Vegas, what I’ve always wished is that I could have been there back in the old Rat Pack days, when the modern-day concept of Vegas was just coming to its initial fruition. Now that would’ve been a fun time. And what better song to signify that era than Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas”? It really says it all, and when Elvis sang about Vegas then, it was the Vegas of Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin . . . the whole romantic and high-flyin’ shebang.
Songwise, “Viva Las Vegas” is definitely a few years removed from Elvis’ early Sun recordings – it features a gloss that would (and could) never have been found on his early recordings, and a chink-a-chink guitar part (groovy though it may be anyway) that would never have found a place on, say, “Mystery Train.” But it came at a point, in 1964, when Elvis was still the King, just at the precipice of losing it all to the Beatles and the British Invasion. It’s among his last blasts of greatness, prior to his “Comeback” in 1968. Sure, it may be a little more contrived than most of his earlier stuff, but it’s an undeniably fun song that sets the mood for a trip to Vegas like no other can.