I’m going to stroll down memory lane in my blue suede shoes. It will lead me to Memphis, this year. In 1957 it led there, too, when I was eight. Only Memphis came to San Fernando, California on a black vinyl 45 rpm with Heartbreak Hotel on one side and I Was the One on the other. It belonged to the girl next door, and we spent hours in her room listening to it, and dreaming of that black haired, pouty lipped boy who stole our hearts from thousands of miles away. My favorite side was I Was the One. It was heartful. That’s what I liked about him, heartful. He loved his mother and God. I didn’t care whether he swiveled his hips or not, and I sure wasn’t going to go scream at a concert. The story of his rise from poverty got me. I wasn’t real crazy about The Colonol, but I guess he knew his stuff.
When my ninth birthday loomed, I went to my father and said, “Daddy, can I have an Elvis Presley record?”
He answered, “Who in the hell is Elvis Presley?” Yeah, that wasn’t my papa’s most astute moment.
And so, along with thousands of other young girls, teen girls, women, I began attending the King of Rock ‘n Roll. I cried when he went into the Army, thinking we might not get any new songs. I loved Priscilla because I loved Elvis, and thought the birth of Lisa Marie practically a royal event. As time went by, I bought more 45s, and then lp albums, and then went to his movies and dreamed I was the one he sang his songs to, especially the Hawaiian Wedding Song in Blue Hawaii. His songs, like Love Me Tender and Can’t Help Falling in Love punctuated my teens. In the early ’70s my new husband proved he really loved me when he got us tickets to an Elvis concert, which we missed because we both had a terrible case of the flu. However, my favorite Elvis song, The Wonder of You, is one of “our” songs to this day.
And then the year our oldest daughter was born, we heard the terrible news of Elvis’ death. I thought how sad it was that he had carried his world on his shoulders, but only managed it with drugs. I guess it’s obvious I didn’t think he faked his death. Who in their right mind would fake a death like that? He left us lots of fun memories, Harleys and Cadillacs, that smile and the sweet things he did for the City of Memphis, his love of his country, and the down homeness that never left him. I picked a bigger than life and imperfect musical idol, and I’m glad.