Wednesday, June 06, 2012

He'll always be the king to me

You have your favorite singers, no doubt.

Mine is Elvis.

He'll always be the king to me.

It's a long story, but Elvis Aron Presley helped me navigate the avenues of adolescence. My peers liked other singers, other groups, other eras. I loved Elvis and wore it like a badge.

My mother and daddy loved him, too. They saw him twice. Never forgot it.

Dad says that even on May 20, 1977, three months before the music died, a sweaty, bloated Elvis sang from his soul at Stokely Athletic Center. His voice, that great gift, never failed the King until his lonely life ended on Elvis Presley Boulevard, or so the Press-Scimitar put it, that terrible Tuesday in August.

I hate that a lot of folks only know him as either Elvis the Pelvis or a bloated Southern Gothic caricature. They've missed a lot of great music. And they've missed the point.

Elvis was one of us, dirt-poor Southern boy made good, "yes, sir" and "yes, ma'am," let me make all this money so I can give it away.

He really did buy Cadillacs for complete strangers. He really did play three shows in a row at Freedom Hall in Johnson City to meet demand. He really did take his daddy on tour and love his mother with all his heart and prefer gospel music and gentle ballads to The Beatles.

And, yeah, some of that weird stuff is true, too, about the cheeseburgers and the prescription pills and the obsession with psychic phenomena.

I'm not his judge. I didn't walk in his shoes.

But I do know about the music.

Dig beyond "Hound Dog" and "Heartbreak Hotel." You'll find some other great stuff, be it from '56 or '76.

He is the only performer that can send chills up my spine just by watching him via video enter a room or hit one of those "you gotta be kidding me" high notes on "How Great Thou Art."

All these wanna bes and never wases making "music" today should remember Elvis's example about how to treat friends and fans. If the most famous person on the planet could be polite, by God you can too.

Music is subjective. Who knows why we attach ourselves to certain singers?

You have your favorites.

Mine is Elvis.

He'll always be the king to me.

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