Cute as a button

Photos by William McGinnis

“Elvis Sings the Wonderful World of Christmas” is a classic.

The 1971 album often ranks high on lists of best holiday albums, and it’s obvious why. Elvis Presley is a legend; he’s the King. In addition, he sings holiday classics in a minimalist, traditional way, which many appreciate.

Not me.

I’ll admit it. I prefer listening to Presley in all his King of Rock ‘n’ Roll glory. I like his flashy clothing, over-the-top vocal runs and rockabilly flair.

Unfortunately, Presley met his quota of pizzazz in his first holiday album in 1957, “Elvis’ Christmas Album,” which was reissued many times. He went back to the holiday roots for this record.

The album features popular songs, such as “Winter Wonderland” and “Silver Bells.” The album cover displays each song title with a related cartoon image, such as an ice skate or reindeer. The old-fashioned artwork is as cute as a button.

I’ve had a soft spot for Presley since I was 6, so I had to have this record in my collection. While I might not pull it out every winter, I’ll still enjoy it from time to time.

His vocals shine the most in my favorite song, “It Won’t Seem Like Christmas.” It has the same longing and romanticism I hear in my favorite Presley song, “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You.” “I’ll Be Home on Christmas Day” and “If I Get Home on Christmas Day” maintain that fateful, heart-wrenching passion.

I mean, “Kentucky Rain,” “Don’t Cry Daddy” — no one does tragic better than Presley.

Writing letters everyday

Never really seem to say

The way I feel deep in this heart of mine

— “If I Get Home on Christmas Day”

Despite the lack of Presley’s panache, hearing his deep voice sing words such as "holly," "merry" and "Christmas tree" makes the holidays seem smoother than ever. He reaches the pinnacle of suave with the bluesy track “Merry Christmas Baby.”

That song should accompany a men’s hair gel commercial, stat.

Although it’s not an original (it’s written by Lou Baxter and Johnny Moore), Presley nails the vocals. The guitar riffs are stellar, too.

What I got from this record was the urge to listen to my Presley favorites.

Presley has been on my mind a lot lately because I recently drove past Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee. The record label that Sam Phillips founded was the first to record Presley.

In another matter of coincidence, my mother dug out some of my things in the attic, finding Presley memorabilia I collected as a child. One of my oldest memories is of seeing Graceland, the large Memphis estate where Presley died in 1977.

Today, I sift through music of the ‘70s and ‘80s with precision. When I was a child, however, I adored the 1950s and ‘60s, fixating on Presley as a central character.

As I get older, I walk through the eras of music, but I always treasure the ones previously tread.

The outfit:

Top - Victoria's Secret

Pants - JoyLab, Target

Shoes - Nike

Hey, I'm Savannah. I collect records, and they collect dust. Like my preferred media form, I strive to not become obsolete. I created Off the Record as a way to turn my mind inside out, into something visual and tangible. One is the loneliest number, so I asked my friends to join.