The Wonder of Elvis
On August 16, 1977, Elvis Aaron Presley left this world. I had yet to be born, but thirty years after his death, I would discover him and let his smooth as silk voice wash over me.
The King was born on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi and later moved to Nashville, TN, where he graduated from High School. Elvis graduated from high school in 1953 and signed with Sun Records in 1954. By 1956 he was a superstar. He passed away 42 years ago today.
He starred in 33 films, sold over one billion records and was nominated for fourteen Grammy nominations, (winning three). On top of it, all the man was just great looking. If you look past the crazy jumpsuit character of his later years and see early Elvis, you’ll see one of the most handsome and talented men ever to grace the stage.
For years I looked at Elvis as the caricature of someone who older women loved. I thought he was overrated and a bit too much. I had only really known him as a sweaty, over the top singer from the seventies, gross. Plus he doesn’t write his music like Paul Simon so who was he to take over the world as he had? I believe it was out of spite that I pushed so hard against this Elvis agenda.
That was until August 16, 2007. At the time, I was working in a dentist office as a secretary. I would sit and enter insurance claims and schedule appointments. There was a TV in the corner of the waiting room that I would keep on TCM all day, every day. If you’re unfamiliar with the network, Turner Classic Movies celebrates August as it’s ‘Summer Under The Stars’ month. Through the entire month, TCM dedicates each day to one film star. That means you get twenty-four hours of films by one actor.
That day I was annoyed that I’d have to listen to these corny Elvis movies all day, but I am a TCM devotee and stuck it out. Though most of the morning, I listened to Elvis dance his way through Jail and Vegas. (Probably, I don’t remember what films were on that morning, and I am away from home right now so I can’t check my old issues of Now Playing.)
Then Elvis on Tour came on.
I heard a few songs at first; then I found myself standing up and looking over the tall counter I had to sit behind.
Then I really listened.
‘Love me Tender;’ ‘Burning Love’ and the classic ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love,’ all gave me goosebumps. What was happening? I wasn’t at all prepared. I ran and told the dentist that I was going to run and get the mail. Instead, I ran home, literally ran as I only worked one block from my house and tossed in a VHS tape (we still rocked that VCR) and recorded the rest of the concert.
From then on I was hooked on Elvis. He wasn’t just for the rabid Elvis fans; he was for everyone.
Elvis is so engrained in my life that I have an Elvis playlist that I listen to when I fly, especially during take-off. Elvis soothes my soul and takes my mind off of my fear of flying.
I catch Elvis movies from time to time on TCM, and I love their campy insanity. They are everything we need in this world right now. I happen to love, Follow That Dream (1962) because it features one of my favorite Elvis songs,’ I’m Not the Marrying Kind.’ It’s not among Elvis’ best or most commercial films, but I still adore it.
I lean more towards his less commercial music and have been known to listen to’ Don’t,’ ‘And I Love You So,’ and ‘I’m Not the Marrying Kind. ‘All of these are bangers. It’s hard to go wrong with Elvis, and I look forward to the day when TCM shows one of his amazing films at the Film Festival.