Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The 39th

I don't have it in me to write anything here today, but this is an edited version of the post I wrote on the 35th anniversary of Elvis's death. Program note: Bradley Reeves and I will spin an hour of bluesy Elvis at 11 p.m. (EDT) Thursday, Aug. 18, on WDVX-FM in Knoxville or streaming here. We'll be also playing portions of Elvis' April 8, 1972, matinee show from Stokely Athletics Center.

I can't really tell you why Elvis Presley is my favorite singer.

The artist, the music, the listener -- a connection exists. You can't explain it.

The fun part is you don't have to explain.

It makes me sad so many folks don't really know Elvis. Look past the stereotype, the bad jokes, the even-worse impersonators (though several are worth the price of admission), the so-so films, and all that kitsch.

Go back to the music. Go back to the man. Take a good listen. Take a good look.

I had put Elvis away, folded him neatly and placed him in a box marked "memories" for most of the last decade. Well, I had ODed on him during my childhood and needed some distance.

And here's the great part. A year or two or three ago, Elvis came back into my life, as if he'd put on the black leather and returned to the national consciousness on NBC-TV in December '68. And you know what? He's even better this time around.

I bought a Sirius/XM player in large part so I could listen to Elvis Radio. Some might tell you I probably listen too much this time of year, but like Jose Feliciano said from Memphis, "I'd rather be addicted to Elvis Radio than to drugs."

Elvis left us 39 years ago today. The world is a much duller place without him.

It's funny. I feel like he's an old friend. You may think that's nuts. I don't care. Elvis is there when I need him. All these years later, he's still entertaining.

If you don't like him or don't get it, that's OK. I guarantee you have an Elvis in your life. And that's cool. It's what puts the fan in fanatic.

I like the later, mature stuff, more "Suspicious Minds" and less "All Shook Up." But I'll say this. Some of the gems the disc jockeys on Elvis Radio dig up have given me a new appreciation for the "Young Man with a Big Beat" years.

One of these days, I'll make it back to Memphis, to Graceland, to pay my respects. I want to see whether it's changed in 15 years. I want to say thanks. (Note: I did so in December 2013, just before my illness began.)

Forgive me if I am just a little bit maudlin today. I am going to pause. To smile. To listen to the music, that sweet, sweet music. To remember.

God bless ya, Elvis. You'll always be the king to me.


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