We had an interview about Elvis Presley with
Sevin Okyay, who is known for movie critics, radio programs and
articles on music and literature. You can find her article
entitled “Came Elvis Into My Life” in our Turkish site.
Nowadays she takes the recognition with the translation of
“Harry Potter Books” into Turkish. We thank her very much...
(Interview by Korkmaz Uluçay, April 2003)
…….. / …….
Korkmaz: You wrote in your article “I didn’t like Elvis much back then,
because I was a James Dean fan”. How did you happen to become
one of Dean-fans?
Sevin Okyay: Well, because of my age…I
was a teenager and there was only James Dean for us.
So, you didn’t like it when Elvis showed up
Well, actually, I wasn’t one of those Dean
fanatics. They were just two giants, one in Hollywood, the other
in music. However, Elvis played in movies, too. Besides, I never
thought that Elvis was a bad actor. Elvis was just ELVIS, you
know? He did not need to be a good actor anyway. People were
going to see his films, meaning to see Elvis on the silver
screen and nothing else. Those were nice films, I think, the
“Jailhouse Rock”, for example. I really enjoyed it.
Have you seen most of his films?
Any film shown in our country…That means,
nearly all of them…
Have you ever written any critics about his
Oh no, I haven’t. I was mostly chasing James
Dean, as I said. On the other hand, I surely compared one to the
other. But there was a problem of Elvis’ image in that time:
ELVIS the PELVIS. It was strange to the kind of conservative
societies like us, like it was to US, as well. I had prejudices,
you know? More, I didn’t think he was handsome back then. But
when I think now, he was really very handsome. I prefer his
early days now, especially when considering his latest days’
taste of dressing, but who cares? He wasn’t a model, he was only
ELVIS. In 70s, of course, he was more mature. He had some pain
in life and that led to an improvement in his singing way. I
came to love these both sides of him. But, for God’s sake, I
think he was more handsome when he was young. I was not so
impressed with his voice at the start, but suddenly I realized
what a wonderful voice he had. An outstanding voice especially
for ballads like “Love Me Tender” or “Are You Lonesome
Tonight?”. I like his rock songs, too, because he had a never
ending energy and dynamism. He is as if he came from another
planet, really. He did everything just with his skills and
charisma at the start. Don’t forget, in Elvis’ time, there were
no rich sponsors or image makers, nothing to support or promote
the people like nowadays. Not so much money was used to spend
for that. You had to have the “talent” and Elvis really had it.
What kind of music do you like to listen? I
know, listening to your radio programs, you like jazz.
Well, I am listening to “A la Turca” beside
the jazz. But I mean “the real old music”, not the “arabesque”
of today. I like old songs.
Are they better?
Yes, definitely. In every kind of
music…Nowadays, I cannot see people like, say, Beatles who can
write beautiful songs. No melody, and no lyrics to understand
because of accents. No difference between the songs, either.
Well, if the cause is the lyrics, why don’t they try to write
poems? I still like Mick Jagger and Tom Waitts. We experienced
something like re-born in music in the latest days. Jagger is
still like at his twenties. I saw him in his concert in
Istanbul, it was unbelievable.
You say, in your article, “now, it’s the time
for Elvis, at home.” Have you already started playing his songs?
Yes, I have…Fantastic... Elvis got used to my
home and so did I to him. I have been listening to him more than
ever since that “Elvis Night” with Atilla (Turkish author and
Are there any songs among them that you have
not heard before?
Only a few. Not many. There weren’t many
among those Atilla played that night, either. How many songs
does Elvis have in fact?
Nearly one thousand.
Well, then I must tell you that there are
hundreds I haven’t heard yet. One thousand is a big amount. No
singer or other music band has such a big catalog. I think I was
a bit conservative child, ‘cause I came to like the Rolling
Stones later, too. Well, to tell the truth, I like the music
itself first of all, I consider the other things afterwards. I
cannot like a bad singer just because he is good at political
songs. On the other hand, there are some good ones in both ways,
Gilbert Bécaud, for example.
Have you listened to Gilbert Bécaud’s “Et
maintenant” from Elvis as “What Now My Love?”
No, but I’d love to…It’s so nice, that Elvis
also sang other people’s songs. I remember “La Paloma” right
Yes. It was entitled “No more”…Some friends
do never listen to anybody but Elvis… Otherwise, they say, they
feel guilty or like betraying. Have you ever loved any artist so
passionately in your life?
No, never! No matter how much I love a
singer, I still listen to the others, too. How can I stop
watching other team’s matches only because I support Beþiktaþ
(Turkish football team)?
Do you support Beþiktaþ?
Yes…One of its fanatics.
There is some fanaticism, then?
Yes, why not? (laughter)…I am
descending from a family full of Beþiktaþ fans. I am proud of
Do you listen to pop music?
Not so much.
How was it before?
Well, I used to listen to Timur Selçuk, Erol
Büyükburç (Turkish singers) and some others on radio.
They were that time’s “brightest stars”. I am not very
interested in new names of today. I like Candan Erçetin and
Sezen Aksu. Candan is also a dear friend of mine…Let’s enter
your Elvis’ site now (using her notebook computer she enters
the site meanwhile). It’s really nice...Very nice…
Now, a usual question: your favorite Elvis
“Are You Lonesome Tonight?”, “Love Me
Tender.”, “Don’t Be Cruel”, “Jailhouse Rock”… Wait a minute...I
also like “Heartbreak Hotel”…(starts singing “Don’t Be Cruel”
and not badly:…“You know I can be found… “I am thinking of....”)…I
like very much things like this. All of a sudden, while
…he is changing his voice…
right... (She is laughing)…
A last thing...Would you like to give a
message for ElvisTurk members, please?
I can tell that they are at the right place.
This artist they love will never die. Elvis Fans will always be
there…Elvis is not a “passing by” singer locked in a little
period of time. He became a legend when he was alive…And we love