Thursday, August 16, 2007

Elvis: The Life and The Legend

When I was in grade school two singers came on the national scene: Elvis Presley and Pat Boone. Fifty years later and one is alive but forgotten while the other is dead but not to be forgotten. Love him or hate him but do admit that Elvis was the most unique entertainer that America has ever produced. And Graceland has to be the most unique home of an entertainer. The number crunchers say that excepting the White House which now is off limits to most people Graceland is the most visited tourist home in America. Graceland outsells Washington's Mount Vernon, Lincoln's log cabin in Ky, the Hearst Castle in California, the Biltmore Estate in NC and the Marble House in RI. And I dare anyone to make it thru the house and memorial gardens without shedding a tear or two. Yes, the entire place is a time capsule of mid 20'th century American consumerism.

And much of it is tacky looking, especially the shag carpet on the ceiling in the jungle room in the basement. But that is what America was all about in the 50's, 60's and 70's: Penny's and Murphy's and the local mom and pop furniture stores supplied the new middle class Americans who were enjoying the post WWII economic growth. Now it is 2007 and we have tastefully decorated rooms on HGTV to show us what to purchase and
display in our homes. Williams Sonoma and Pottery Barn are the arbitrating stores of choice for us. Maybe 50 years from now we will be back to the Elvis look in home taste. Now wouldn't that be a hoot.

But why do we cry when we go to Graceland? Even people who never cared for Elvis's music and style shed tears. I think we cry as much for ourselves as for Elvis. We are weeping over our lost youth and innocence. The Elvis look may return in fifty years but never will we go back to the world as we knew it in the 50's, 60's and 70's. We had terrible events during those generations but nothing like what we face today in our world. Soldiers were killed in Vietnam at an alarming rate but they were not beheaded or slaughtered like some are in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today's terrorists make all of us want to return to the heyday of Elvis in America. As for Pat Boone. Well, even he in his old age has adopted some of the Elvis look: black leather and big rings and longer hair. It just takes some people longer to get their groove on.

No comments: