Archive for January 8th, 2009

Today is the birthday of Elvis Presley.Early Elvis

I’m not going to wax rhapsodic about the man or what he has meant to so many people.  Everyone knows the facts:

Elvis was and is big.

For me, it’s memories of going with my sister and cousin to the movies to see his films.  I was 5 or 6 years old but even then, Elvis’ charisma was unavoidable even in those sometimes awful films.

I remember sitting in front of the TV with my dad in’68 when Elvis made his comeback special.  We both sat mesmerized as we watched,  which struck me because my dad was not one to show much obvious interest in a lot of things.  It was an amazing thing to watch.  Elvis had the air of absolute desperation around him, as if everything in the world hung on  him pleasing us and gaining our love and approval.

 It seemed to be, to quote an Elvis hit, now or never.

It was a mythic performance, obvious to even a 9 year old.

But like many mythic beings, intermingled with greatness there was the aura of tragedy and sadness.  That’s how I think of Elvis.  A simple man elevated to myth and burdened with a talent and charisma with which few are equipped to handle.

Here’s another Gillian Welch song, Elvis Presley Blues,  which kind of sums up that feeling.

Happy birthday, E…


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