To get a sense of how dramatically celebrity culture has changed in five decades, you need only look back to 1958. On this day that year, Elvis Presley — perhaps the most famous singer in the world at the time who already had gigantic hits with songs like “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Hound Dog” and “All Shook Up” — received his regulation military haircut at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas. Even though he was a massive star, he could not escape the reach of Uncle Sam. The fervor surrounding Presley’s military service was intense, and amazingly, he served two full years in the Third Armored Division in Friedberg, Germany.
Though the King was concerned about his career, Presley would often hit the studio during leaves and had logged plenty of recording time prior to the beginning of his service, so he managed to score 10 Top 40 hits (including “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck” and “(Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such as I”) even though he was not around to promote them or tour for two years. During his Army career, he was also introduced to martial arts (he remained devoted to karate even after he left the service) and met future wife Priscilla Beaulieu.
When Elvis returned from military duty in March of 1960, he grew his signature hair back and picked up right where he left off, immediately cutting a new album (appropriately titled Elvis is Back!), headlining a television special and starring in the movie “G.I. Blues,” all of which were wild successes. Of course, there is no longer a military draft, but even if there was, it seems unfathomable that a major pop star would be drafted into service and sent away for two years. Imagine if 20-year-old Joe Jonas was called up for military service. What would that even look like? In honor of Elvis’ personal sacrifice, commitment to service and willingness to lose his locks, we present Pavement’s “Cut Your Hair.”