Elvis was a harbinger of this development in the rock mythology; his character incorporating myriad musical, cultural, and figurative dualities.
Veteran San Francisco media personality Steve Wagner was co-host, writer, and executive producer of the Bay Area television programs Reel Life and Filmtrip.
Steve has ghostwritten several published books, contributed articles on music, film, and popular culture to numerous publications, and presented lectures and workshops on music, art, and mythology throughout the U.S.
His book All You Need is Myth: The Beatles and Gods of Rock (2019), a study of the classic rock era through the lens of classical mythology, is the product of ten years of research and composition.
Today we begin our twelve days of Christmas—rock & roll style! Every day from now until December 25, we’ll wind our way through the classic rock archetypes and their powerful mythic transmissions, as an introduction to the new book, All You Need is Myth: The Beatles and the Gods of Rock.
In the spirit of linear historical narrative, we commence with the original mythic rock archetype, the guy Ringo Starr called the “hip-swiveling man,” who Paul McCartney remembered, “just looked perfect,” and without whom, John Lennon stated, “there would be no Beatles.”
Below is an excerpt from All You Need is Myth describing the herald archetype of Rock & Roll, the once and future King, Elvis Presley:
Excerpt on Elvis from All You Need is Myth: The Beatles and the Gods of Rock
In the rock mythology, Elvis recalls in numerous ways the original human archetype of Adam, representing duality in many forms and the anticipation of resolution as symbolized by the mythic savior, in Elvis’s case the Beatles. The description of Jesus Christ in the epistles of St. Paul (and writings of other Christian mystics) as the “last” Adam is indicative of the psychic path of transformation and transcendence that began with the Fall: “The first man, Adam, became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”
Likewise, Elvis was a harbinger of this development in the rock mythology; his character incorporating myriad musical, cultural, and figurative dualities. In addition to his merging of country and blues styles into a novel musical alloy, Elvis’s persona harmonized societal divisions of rural and urban culture; religious demarcations of good and evil; racial perceptions of Caucasian and African American; and physical expressions of male and female, all aspects of the prototypical “rock star” we would see emerge again and again.
Elvis was a “white” who sang “black,” a poor country boy who became a rich Hollywood star, a sexually charged performer who sang reverent gospel hymns, a man who moved like a woman, and, by nearly unanimous accounts from both genders, possessing a striking, unmistakable androgynous beauty. He was also (significantly in terms of his personal psychology) a surviving twin who felt throughout his life that he carried the spirit of his lost brother, Jesse Garon, in his own soul.
Transcending the sense of underlying energy and the point of direct experience that is beyond the physical world, the logic of the brain, and, most frustratingly, language.
Representing the deeper feminine qualities of inner wisdom and intuitive process, concerns of ecology and equality, possession of hidden knowledge, and emphasis on truth and integrity, attributes of countless mythic goddesses of the ancient world.
Everything we experience in our material world is realized and created through a dance with its opposite.