Today is the 75th anniversary of the birth of Elvis Presley. I was considering titling this post "Yet Another Post about Elvis", since I expect half the members of the blogosphere to choose The King as their topic for the 8th of January. The title comes from one of my favorite songs, "Black Velvet", written by David Tyson and Christopher Ward and recorded in 1989 by Alannah Myles, about the young Elvis:
Up in Memphis the music's like a heatwave
White lightening, bound to drive you wild
Mama's baby's in the heart of every school girl
"Love me tender" leaves 'em cryin' in the aisle
The way he moved, it was a sin, so sweet and true
Always wanting more, he'd leave you longing for.
Old as I am, I'm too young to remember Elvis in his prime. Nevertheless, I'm not immune to his mystique. I've watched some of his old movies--"Roustabout" and "Viva Las Vegas". I've seen videos. I feel the smoldering passion and the barely-leashed sexuality in his songs, the youthful energy and the hint of rebellion.
These days entertainers perform half naked, make lewd gestures, feature obscene lyrics, and people hardly notice. Elvis was more subtle. Sure, he had those swiveling hips, those pouting lips and that low croon that sent a chill down your spine, but he was mostly polite. The sex was there, under the surface--you couldn't help but react--but it was a seductive promise, not an in-your-face display. Still, there were those in 1950's America who found him shocking, who wanted him banned for his suggestive manner.
I'd love to be able to write the way Elvis sang, effortlessly evoking such aching desire. I wish I could distill the essence of his appeal--not loud and raw like today's stars, but smooth and fiery as a ten-year old bourbon.
I don't have anything original to say about the man or the phenomenon that was Elvis Presley. There are thousands of other bloggers who will no doubt say it all anyway. But the world is poorer without his passion. So I'll just wish you happy birthday, Elvis--wherever you are.
Tune in tomorrow for a guest post from one of my favorite writers, Helen Madden. Helen's one of my blogging companions at the group blog Oh Get A Grip!. She's outrageous and funny and ferociously talented.