Saturday, August 16, 2008

Show some respect

Yes, indeed. It's the 31st anniversary of Elvis Presley's death.

Sadly, The King has almost been reduced to a caricature -- a symbol representing junk culture and what's wrong with it. That's a shame, honestly, as Elvis was a heck of a lot more than the white jumpsuits, the Las Vegas performances, a string of bad movies and the increasingly odd habits he developed near the end of his life.

Elvis was a true pioneer, indeed, as an attentive listen to his first album will prove. That self-titled album, released in 1956, ushered in the rock n' roll era and is a brilliant mix of country and rockabilly. Elvis might not have had the musical and songwriting talent of, say Carl Perkins, but he had a certain charisma that simply grabbed peoples' attention.

I was only eight-years-old when Elvis died and well remember all the sorrow that was palpable in my little Southern town after his passing was announced.

Rather than writing a lot of stuff about Elvis that has been around for years, I thought I'd commemorate this, the 31st anniversary of Elvis' death, with a couple of stories about the man that I think are just plain funny.

The first one involves my little brother. He's six years my junior and has been a bit obsessed with Elvis from both an artistic appreciation and a pop icon standpoint. My brother has visited Graceland a time or two and even bought me a velvet Elvis from a roadside stand in Mississippi.

One night when my brother was still in college, he had some friends over at his house for a night of drinking and listening to loud Elvis records. He and one of his friends started talking about how great Elvis was and decided to let the world know of their appreciation of the man by painting a message in his honor on the street with latex house paint.

My brother's friend wanted to paint "Elvis Lives" but my brother disagreed. He said Elvis is certainly dead, so a more suitable statement is "Elvis is King!" So, they painted that on the street in front of my brother's house. That, by the way, was on a hill, so the message was rather like a large billboard that was hard to miss by anyone in the area.

So, my brother woke up the next morning, nursing a hangover. He started to recall what happened the night before and felt a little sick when he remembered the tribute to Elvis.

"Oh, no. Certainly we didn't actually do that," he thought.

Of course, he was wrong. So, my brother went out at about 7 a.m. while hungover and miserable and went shopping for paint remover. He bought about every kind he could find, went home and hit that reverent message with all sorts of chemicals that it may or may not have been safe to mix. Latex house paint is hard to remove, but he eventually got the job done.

A story that I like almost is well involves the Weekly World News, that horrible tabloid that never once pretended to be truthful. In the 1990s (I think), that little rag ran a story based on a concept that is absolute brilliant. Yes, they ran Elvis' obituary, claiming he had been alive and living in some small town or another until his death at the age of 60-years-old or thereabouts.

I miss the Weekly World News because they always pulled junk like that. Of course, the Weekly World News was constantly reporting on Elvis sightings and had The King doing things like pumping gas for a living, stopping by a restaurant for one item or another and etc. My favorite one involved a story about "The Elvis Tribe," a group of primitives somewhere who worshiped Elvis and "sang and danced like the king." The Elvis Tribe was described as a bunch of "Wacky Savages" who "sang and danced like The King." We liked that so much when I was back in college that we named our band the Wacky Savages.

So, go watch an Elvis movie or two today and fondly remember The King, an American original.

22 comments:

BillyWarhol said...

Love Elvis*

He's still da King!!********

;)) Peace*

FishHawk said...

You better be kiddin' about the Elvis Tribe bein' a hoax! For I've sent donations to help buy blue suede baby shoes several times through a United Nations agency headquartered in Uganda.

iWalk said...

Thank you so much for comment on my post about Elvis Presley.
I am listening his songs all day today.He is always so captivating.

Hillbilly Willy said...

Long Live the King!

Thank you Very Much!

10-4 Willy

Sara said...

I visited Graceland on my Springbreak road trip 1996 and have had a higher respect for Elvis since then. RIP Elvis!

The Mad Celt said...

Head on over to my blog for a tribute
song.

"Musings of a Mad Celt"
http://dracocelt.blogspot.com/

lala said...

lol...I heard yesterday that the anniversary was coming up sooooo...I knew to expect a post from you on this.

;-)

Da Old Man said...

I can remember exactly where I was when I heard The King died. Can't believe it was 31 years ago.

maria said...

long live the king! he's my dad's and my brother's favorite. i remember when i was younger both of them agreed on buying the total collection of elvis' long playing albums. the records are still in the stockroom but no phonographs to play with. it's the age of cd players! lol

Sara said...

check out this link

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2049723/posts

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I remember when Elvis died, too. I also remember my shock and disappointment when I learned how many of the songs I'd always associated with him were actually covers.

The Natural State Hawg said...

billywarhol:

Damn right he is!

The Natural State Hawg said...

fishhawk:

I don't know how to tell you, but I do believe it is a hoax. Yes, the Elvis tribe is just a front for the Uganda mafia.

I hate to break the bad news...

The Natural State Hawg said...

iwalk:

Likewise, thanks for leaving a post over here!

He was very captivating. I do believe, from that era, that Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry had Elvis beat in terms of sheer musical talent. However, Elvis had that charisma and that counts for a lot!

The Natural State Hawg said...

hillbilly willy:

So, how many Elvis movies did YOU watch today?

The Natural State Hawg said...

sara:

My little brother used to make annual pilgrimages to Graceland. That was a great road trip for him and his friends, and college is just made for experiences like that.

The Natural State Hawg said...

The Mad Celt:

Saw that earlier today. Great stuff, yeah?

The Natural State Hawg said...

lala:

Aww, how did you guess?

The Natural State Hawg said...

da old man:

I don't remember where I was when Elvis died because I was only eight-years-old. However, I well remember all the reaction around town to his death.

I wasn't too young to know exactly what was happening, at least!

The Natural State Hawg said...

maria:

Just remember -- LPs are making a bit of a comeback and record players are very easy to find.

Might be a good time to invest in some new/old technology, yeah?

The Natural State Hawg said...

Sara:

Thanks for that link! It's probably a very good thing that I don't have the money to waste on something like that...

The Natural State Hawg said...

susan helene gottfried:

Well, Elvis was kind of in the "old school" of vocalists. You didn't see Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra running around doing original material either, but that wasn't the point with them.

I was a bit disappointed in that for awhile, too. But, hey, he was what he was.