Elvis, King of Kings

wp-1473116554399.jpegHere’s all you need to
know about Elvis:
’68 comeback
special, he’s onstage
seated, red Gibson
hollowbody in
his lap, and one of
the guys in his band
says something about
“You couldn’t do that
in” (some southern town)
and Elvis got an
annoyed, withering
look on his face.

“That’s
where they filmed the show.

“Yeah, the police came
out and they filmed the
show, because they, the
F.B.I. or the
P.T.A., they thought
I was…”

And here he
shook his head and laughed
a puzzled laugh, like
a dozen years down
the road, he still just
couldn’t get what the
big deal was about
his sound, his hair, his
moves…HIM.

“…somethin’. And
they said, ‘Maaaaaaann, that boy’s
gotta be crazy.

“So they filmed the show.

“So I couldn’t move.

“I had to stand still.

“The only thing I could
move was my little
finger.”

And here he
raised his left hand, and
then wiggling his
pinkie back and forth,
his full upper lip
breaking into that
priceless sneer, belted
You ain’ nothin’ but
a hound dog… cryin’
all the time!” and then
he broke up laughing.

“That was the whole show.”

Eight years later, in
a video of
him backstage before
his last concert, he
stood bloated and spent
from whatever the
people around him
allowed him to put
into his body,
squeezed tight into that
ridiculous white
jumpsuit (I’m sorry,
but I can’t even
appreciate the
kitsch of what he was
doing, what he had
become… it just makes
me sad) but at one
point, somebody says
something to him and
he breaks into that
same sneering smile,
a combination
of rebellion
and joy, and it made
me even sadder, like:
How well could all those
sycophants around
him have known the guy
if they’d let him do
all those things that they
had to know were just
destroying him from
every part of his
insides out, and yet
just laughed along with the
guy and let it pass,
as if the things that
made Elvis smile
and sneer weren’t just the
things we all wanted
and needed from him,
but what he needed
himself to survive?

“That was the whole show.”

 

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