Archive for January 6th, 2010

Happy Birthday Elvis (And Thank Yew – Thank Yew Vurrah Much!!!)

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

This Friday (January 8th) marks the Diamond Jubilee of Elvis Presley’s birth. He would have been 75, which is the age his arteries and heart already were when he died at 42 from all those fried banana sandwiches, uppers, downers, and laxatives.

There are so many bad Elvis impersonators (85,000 according to one report – of which about 3 are really good), and so many bad Elvis movies re-running constantly on TV (he made 31 as an actor – of which ditto), that it is easy to forget how wonderful he could be – especially in concert.

I had the opportunity to see Elvis perform 3 times, and it was a show like no other before or since. Yes, some of his most beautiful and simple songs suffered from over-produced arrangements (I especially grieved at the elephantiasis wreaked upon the hauntingly lovely “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You”), and he occasionally lapsed into self-parody with his early rock hits like “Hound Dog,” but over all, it was magic.

Much has been written since Elvis “left the building” in 1977 about his dark side. And yes, he was definitely given to excess. But as I’ve mentioned before in this column, I think what really killed him was the fact that – like his son-in-law Michael Jackson – nobody had the guts to say “no” to him. The hangers-on of his “Memphis Mafia,” his drug-dispensing doctors, his manager, and even his own father failed to utter the one word that might have saved his life.

It’s a shame. The King of Rock and Roll deserved better. The straight-from-the-heart singer who gave us “Love Me Tender,” “Loving You,” “Crying In The Chapel,” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” deserved better. The poor boy from Tupelo who defined a decade’s Pop Music in a way that few (Sinatra, The Beatles) ever will certainly deserved better. For all the joy he gave to millions, he had earned happiness and peace.

I hope he’s found it now. I hope he can hear his fans say back to him those words that were such a big part of every concert appearance:

“Thank you,” Elvis. “You’re beautiful.” “Thank you very much!”