Elvis Presley had been knocked sideways by the British Invasion, by new styles in America, and by a long series of crappy music and movie-starring choices, but his 1968 Comeback Special silenced critics and breathed new life into his career.
On videos from the show, Elvis looks eerily handsome and strikes a perfect balance between bravado and self-parody. You can see the intelligence in his eyes and his smile. It’s as if he knows he’s at the top of his game, and at the same time realizes the game is bullshit, no one stays on top of anything, not for long.
Footnote: I love the moment in “Blue Christmas” when Elvis or Scotty Moore bends an E string and someone off-camera yells “Play It Dirty” and a woman in the small studio audience screams. This is one of the rare Christmas songs that doesn’t make me feel blue.