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When Elvis Got Strange: Reflections on The 1973 Concert Film Aloha From Hawaii

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For the second installment of my Oxford American column, “A Goddamn Impossible Way Of Life” I wrote about persona, pro wrestling, Neil Young, Bloomington, Indiana and the absolutely bonkers 1973 Elvis Presley network special Aloha From Hawaii. Check it out!

Ultimately, the success of Aloha from Hawaii was staggering. It is estimated that somewhere between 1 and 1.5 billion viewers tuned in worldwide, through network and satellite TV, underscoring yet again my scientifically unprovable suspicion that America in the 1970’s was the strangest place in the history of the universe to date. The set builds: a medley of Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” and Jerry Lee’s “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” The lunatic but somehow predictable and rousing “American Trilogy” consisting of “Dixie,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and the spiritual “All My Trials.”

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