Sunday, August 16, 2009

bye, elvis

thirty-two yrs ago, i rolled up to open the rekkid store on lawn guyland where i worked and was greeted by a line of sobbing, weeping elvis fans -- the men in greasy quiffs, the wimmin in beehives. they came to gaze at his visage on his album covers and to lovingly caress artifacts like having fun with elvis onstage, an album consisting entirely of snippets of onstage patter.

i'd always thought of him as kind of a joke. when i was a kid, i actually thought elvis was italian, because everybody i knew who looked and acted like that was italian. i also thought he had something to do with my uncle frank, because they were in the army in germany around the same time. later we had a teenage babysitter who used to insist on watching his crappy movies when they came on tv. i was unimpressed.

when i moved to memphis in '81 to open a rekkid store on elvis presley boulevard, i carved "elvis sucks" on the wall outside graceland. i'm not proud of it, i'm just sayin'.

i only finally "got" el back in '97, when i spent a couple of days flat on my back with a bout of flu, a bottle of nyquil and a copy of the sun sessions my only companions. even now, when i'm _not_ fucked up, that music still sounds like hank williams or robert johnson to me, and i think the music he made on his '68 "comeback" tv special was boss.

i hope he's really living in identity-changed anonymity somewhere in louisiana, the way nik cohn imagined.


Blogger Grubbermeister said...

From age five to eleven the annual ritual of going to Graceland on August 16 to stand in front of the gates among 300,000+ people for eight hours with Elvis music blaring over loud speakers to finally take a five minute stroll past The King's grave was a factor that put me off of his music for years.

Another factor? Having my picture taken every time in that damn pink Jeep of his from "Blue Hawaii".

9:05 AM  

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