Happy Birthday, Elvis!

Elvis turned 76 yesterday.  The week of his birth is coined “Birth Week” in Memphis and definitely brings out the crazies, or at least a lot of Asian fans with cameras.  When I lived in Memphis, it was practically a local holiday and every giftshop in downtown could expect a sales spike in anything with the king’s face on it, next only to “Death Week” in August.

I visited Graceland only once, and that was when I was a small child.  My sister was more the Elvis fan in the family, so this was her trip. I vaguely remember it – tacky furniture and lots of leopard print.  I remember the kidney shaped swimming pool which everyone said was supposed to be shaped like a guitar.  I remember Elvis’s grave in the backyard, right next to his parents.

I never visited while I lived in Memphis, but had lots of friends who went for the candle light vigils, mainly for the entertainment – old fat biker chicks clad in leather slinging roses on the grave and crying, “Why did this have to happen?”

Our favorite joke was, “Remember when Elvis sang about In The Ghetto?  Well, he meant it.”  Most people who have never been there before are shocked to find that Graceland is not in the safest part of town.  And outside the gates, the brick wall that surrounds it is heavily grafitied by fans from all over the world, much like Jim Morrison’s grave.

But we grew up on movie Elvis and later gospel Elvis. If there was a new book out, my sister usually landed a copy for her birthday or Christmas.  I contributed to some of that book collection along the way.  Elvis was a mainstay in our house, much like he is to rock and roll still today. I even read a fictional book about him just last month. Over the past few yaers, his daughter Lisa Marie has put out a few albums.  I snatched those up and still listen to them.

It’s odd to wonder what Elvis would be doing if he was still alive today.  Some believe that he is!  How much longer would he have performed?  Would he still live in Graceland?  There will definitely never be another performer like him. His image and his music is just iconic.  Having lived in Memphis for six years, I see that now.

If anything, he put Memphis on the map.  The Asians love him.  The fat biker chicks.  They all come there because they are touched by him or his music in some way.  And it’s hard to fathom, right?  Especially if he died before you were born. (I was just 1.)  But even people born into the 80s and now the 90s, they all eventually learn who Elvis is and get to know him just like the rest of us.

Now that’s history!

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