Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Day Elvis Died

They say he had a hamburger in his hand when he died forty years ago in Graceland.  They found him cold, laying face down in his bathroom.  I was seven years old.  We were just moving back to Atlanta. He was leaving and we were returning in the South.  I remember talking with several of the movers in our backyard.  We talked about his life and what was left. Who was he I wondered. He looked like a bloated star, a part of the malaise that Jimmy Carter talked about. All I knew of him was the TV adds during daytime TV, lots and lots of TV adds for gold records, greatest hits, photos, Elvis in Hawaii, in Los Vegas. "Elvis the Pelvis," mom declared, still shocked about his TV appearances from two decades prior, when TV producers decided you could not show him below the hips on TV.  He was still dangerous. A few years later, I worked at the Sound Warehouse, doing inventory.  Thousands of his records filled the stores, thousands, zillions of memories and mysteries about his life and celebrity. 

My favorite songs of his were always "Suspicious Minds" and "In the Ghetto." I still love the song. He clearly knew something was wrong in the world and sang about it, taking no small amount of flak singing Mac Davis' sad and beautiful words.

As the snow flies
On a cold and gray Chicago mornin'
A poor little baby child is born
In the ghetto (in the ghetto)
And his mama cries
'Cause if there's one thing that she don't need
It's another hungry mouth to feed
In the ghetto (in the ghetto)
People, don't you understand
The child needs a helping hand
Or he'll grow to be an angry young man some day?
Take a look at you and me
Are we too blind to see
Do we simply turn our heads, and look the other way?
Well, the world turns
And a hungry little boy with a runny nose
Plays in the street as the cold wind blows
In the ghetto (in the ghetto)
And his hunger burns
So he starts to roam the streets at night
And he learns how to steal, and he learns how to fight
In the ghetto (in the ghetto)

Last show, article about his death, and Elvis in Car by AlfredWertheimer.
I always wanted his haircut. Yesterday, I walked into a barber shop in Brooklyn and asked the barber for a haircut just like Elvis.  I always tried, but could never quite pull it off.

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