Elvis and I
The title of this e-piphany is an effort to avoid being sued. Yes, the odds of Priscilla Presley being a regular reader of this web-log are next to nothing but why take the chance? (The word web-log always reminds of me of the time our dog ate a computer mouse. When I went out to clean up the backyard, it made me rethink this whole new technology thing.) Elvis & Me is the name of Ms. Presley’s book so that left Me & Elvis which is too close to another book called Me & A Guy Named Elvis. Also, I didn’t want to be pummeled by angry English teachers. That happened enough back when I was in school. Elvis & Myself sounds like something a self-help author would be hawking on an afternoon talk-show. “Well, Oprah, I just think we all have an inner-Elvis with whom we need to be in touch. I also like to call it Hunka-Hunka-Burnin’ Me.” I & Elvis looks more like an algebraic formula than a title. So, I went with Elvis And I. Not to be confused with the soon-to-be released book by The King’s optometrist: Elvis & Eye.
I was a late-comer to the music of Elvis. When it came to old-time rock and roll, I always leaned toward Roy Orbison and the Everly Brothers. In fact, it was at an Everly Brothers concert that Phil Everly reached over and patted our daughter Samantha on the head, telling her she was quite a little dancer. She’d been dancing in the front row for the whole show.
That made Samantha a big Everly Brothers fan but, ironically, it was also Samantha that made me a true Elvis fan. (Is that the right place for the word “ironically?” Or, should it just be “coincidentally?” I’ll ask our college-age son when I get home. The incorrect use of the word “ironic” is one of his pet peeves plus he loves to correct me so this will be the perfectly ironic coincidence for him. Or, the perfectly coincidental irony.) Samantha started listening to Elvis a lot at bedtime. He was her version of a lullaby. Soon, Harrison, before he could even walk, started dancing in his car seat to Suspicious Minds.
As I’ve mentioned before in this space, Elvis died the same day I attended my first Sinatra concert. The Chairman of the Board paid tribute to the King with a rather obscure song called See The Show Again, written by none other than Barry Manilow. The lyrics were fitting, about a singer whose life becomes unhappy and a bit empty when the spotlight goes out and the curtain comes down.
Later, when I was one of the KMBC hosts of a local radio talk-show, one of the most caller-active shows I had involved a local doctor who insisted that Elvis was still alive. He had a tape of an alleged conversation with Presley and a photo of a frail looking white-haired man on one of those scooter-type things called a “Rascal.” Just the idea that there might be more music to come from Elvis Presley got some people pretty excited. But, to be honest, by the end of the radio show, I was completely in line with another Elvis tune: A Little Less Conversation. The doctor’s story was interesting and did provoke a response from listeners but it was also a little sad. I got to thinking it was better just to enjoy the legacy than pick at the life.
Elvis appeared in Madison, Wisconsin quite often when I was growing up about thirty miles away, but I never got the chance to see him in person. His last trip to Madison was eventful. Here’s how Hidden Madison reporter, Deborah Nies tells the story:
“On this site, the corner of Hwy 51 and East Washington Avenue, around 1 a.m. on June 24, 1977, Elvis Presley was riding in the 2nd of two limousines which had stopped for a red light. He was coming from a concert in Des Moines and had just arrived in Madison. Elvis noticed a young teen on the ground being beaten by two other youths here at the former Skyland Service Station. Elvis jumped out of his limo and moved quickly to the fight scene. They admitted later that they knew it was the legendary Elvis Presley who was standing in front of them in his classic karate stance saying, “I’ll take you on.” After a few classic karate moves by Elvis, the youths recognized him, stood and shook hands, and promised to stop fighting. Elvis asked, “Is everything settled now?” Elvis was on his way to the Sheraton and his last Madison appearance. He died 52 days later, on August 16th, 1977.”
Elvis was, according to the limo-driver and off-duty policeman providing security, having a pretty good laugh when he got back in the car. “Did you see the looks on their faces?” he said.
I can imagine!