Today is January 8th – Elvis’s birthday. Which birthday I know not. Nor do I really care. I wonder how many of his old fans continue to circle this date on their calendars. They would know his age if he had survived. And they would know how many years he has been gone.
As for Elvis sightings, I have heard of no recent detections of his aura upon the landscape. Even in Nashville. But, then, maybe I am out of the loop.
Judging by my own age, Elvis would be somewhere in his mid or upper seventies. If ever he had lived that long. Which he didn’t and probably wouldn’t have anyway, due to his wild lifestyle and his liking for abusive substances. But it is a pity to think about a life cut short by its owner’s misdeeds, or for any other reason. Who is to know what could or would have been produced during the truncated portion of a life? Whatever the time span.
Mother did not like Elvis. Not that she knew him. She didn’t. But somehow, she saw him as a kind of threat. From the first time we saw him on the Ed Sullivan Show, he represented to her a deterioration of society as she knew it. Unwilling to accept a changing world, Mother never let us listen to radio shows on which Elvis’s records were played. They gave her a headache.
In her effort to influence our opinion of Elvis, Mother used to make negative observations of his person. The only one I remember for sure is that he had “a girl’s mouth.” Whatever that meant, I didn’t know then and I don’t know now. But you can see how aspersions stick.
It amuses me to think about those times. While my mother tried so hard to influence how I felt about an up and coming rock star, she never once asked my opinion. She would have been surprised to know how late I came to like rock and who I liked to hear play it. She also would have been surprised to foresee her own obsession with The Rolling Stones, but maybe liking them was an affectation. You never could tell with Mother.
My taste in popular music of the time ran more to ballads. Although Elvis’s ballads continue to be favorites of mine, I preferred other singers of the day. My most favorite music was anything we played in band, especially John Philip Sousa marches, which, incidentally, he originally wrote as ballads and waltzes.
As today’s children endeavor to thwart their parents, so did we in my day. Always a singer, I used to go about my chores humming or caroling Elvis ballads, including, “Love Me Tender.” Once Mother mentioned what a pretty song I was singing. I never told her it was an Elvis song. I simply smiled somewhere deep inside.
Okay, I know what you are thinking. If I wasn’t a dyed-in-the-wool fan of Elvis, how, or why do I remember his birthday? Well, to tell the truth, the thing I remember about this date isn’t Elvis’s birthday. The 8th of January is my ex-husband’s birthday. We’ve been divorced for 35 years, but the date is imprinted on my mind. Still. I wonder if it is because of Elvis. Maybe he is the one I was in love with.
P.S. I wonder if Forest Gump really did teach Elvis that dance step.