Sometimes I wish people would just stop and think about how great Elvis was. There was literally no one like him…ever. He had such a mystique…such a presence. There will never be another Elvis, no one will even come close. It’s really unfair to at least half of the planet’s population because those people weren’t even alive while Elvis was Elvis. And I think you really had to be there to appreciate how cool Elvis really was. What really brings it into focus for me is a quote from Mott the Hoople’s former lead guitarist Ian Hunter: “Elvis was even sexy to guys…I can’t imagine how women felt.”
It wasn’t just the music, it was just the fact that he was Elvis. Everything in pop culture can somehow be traced back to him. Unfortunately, most people today, especially younger people, look at him as just an icon, and not as the person that he was. He was the American dream…born a poor southern boy, he worked hard to achieve his dream, and achieved more than he ever could have imagined. In fact, it overwhelmed him to the point where, later in his career, he would have given just about anything to be an average individual. He could never go anywhere outside of his home without bodyguards, because people would immediately recognize him and want to be around him…not because he was a great singer, but because he was ELVIS. In fact, the mere mention of his name brings up a complete multi-media show in my head. People like me grew up on Elvis. We listened to his music, we watched his movies, we followed his life…we laughed with him and we cried with him. When he started nearing the end of his life and everyone knew he was not in good health, it was almost like you wanted to sit down with a family member and help them get back on track. Sure, he eventually became a parody of himself, but who better to try to emulate? I would give almost everything I own to hang out with Elvis in the late 60’s when he was recording in Memphis.
Maybe the reason I miss Elvis so much is that the thought of him conjures up a time in my life that can I can honestly classify as “utopian.” I was too young to worry about anything, was still firmly under my parents’ wing, and had an older sister who would take me to every Elvis movie that hit the screen at the Minonk Theatre. And who doesn’t like a good Elvis movie? Let’s take a look at all the elements that make a good Elvis movie:
-Elvis was either a bad guy who wanted to be good, or a good guy that everyone loved.
-Elvis never lost a fight.
-Whenever Elvis would break into song, there was immediately a group of happy people who smiled, played and sang along. They knew the song already! I don’t know about you guys, but whenever I spontaneously break into song, very seldom does everyone know the words, let alone sing along.
-Elvis always got the girl…the best looking girl in the whole movie.
-Elvis never lost a race.
-Elvis never seemed riddled with self-doubt.
Wouldn’t it be great if life were an Elvis movie? I could be at work in my cube, and all of a sudden start singing a song. There would immediately be a group of people around me smiling and singing the chorus with me. Eric, who sits next to me, would have a guitar in his hands before I even got the first words out of my mouth! And my supervisor wouldn’t be mad at me for disrupting the workday…he would be singing along! I would walk out into the parking lot, probably wearing a snappy red windbreaker, and get into the coolest car in the lot. And some hot-looking young babe would run up and say, “Hey Rick, how about a lift?” to which I would respond, “Sure, hop in baby.”
So let’s all live our lives like that from now on. As my wife pointed out the other day from her Elvis calendar, let’s use the line they came up with to promote Elvis’ movie “Spinout”: “With His Foot on the Gas and No Brakes on the Fun!”
Nuff said. Just let the record show that there will never be another Elvis…and I miss him, and everything that surrounded him, more and more everyday.