Friday, November 9, 2007

Going to Graceland...

OK, Katrina brought up Elvis, so here goes my story…

I listened to my parents’ 45 rpm Elvis records in my room when I was three, and have been listening ever since. Even now the sound of the music returns me to a place where I don’t have a care in the world—just like when I was three years old.

I saw the Elvis Lives concert on MPT earlier this year and I was amazed by the technology, the musicianship, the production design and the magic. I knew the band was going to play together one last time on August 16 for the 30th anniversary of Elvis’ death. I decided I had to be there, so I jumped in the car to make the long drive down to Memphis.

I liked the drive to Memphis—lots of time for reflection. I made the extra 100- mile journey down to Tupelo, Mississippi, to see the house where Elvis and Jesse (Elvis' stillborn identical twin, Jesse Garon Presley) were born. Tiny, tiny place. Two rooms.

Graceland was smaller than you think, looking old and tacky. I never intended to go there, though my parents went there about 10 years ago and highly recommended it. I probably would not have gone if not for the draw of the concert. But I’m glad I did. It gave me a sense of time and distance. Elvis is with us, and occasionally feels “current” when there is a new, previously unreleased song or video reaching #1 on the Billboard charts (as in 2002). But when you walk through the house and look at the artifacts, it is all very clearly old and long ago in the past. When I stood in the “Jungle Room,” I recalled that the last album recorded in Elvis’ lifetime (Moody Blue) was mostly recorded there because he was in no condition to be in a recording studio. I heard the minor hit from the album, “Way Down,” play in my mind as I stood in that room. It seemed like the light grew dim, and I felt a deep sadness while others around me marveled at the exotic furniture.

At the concert, I looked closely at every original singer and band member on the stage. All are older now. They gave a great performance and had an extraordinarily great time—as good as any of us in the audience. I wondered why there was not one person among them that tried to help Elvis overcome his fears and compulsions that led to his demise, why none them cared enough at the time to stop him from destroying himself.

Lisa Marie was nine years old in 1977; not much she could do beyond what she did, which was write and ask Santa Claus to never let her father die. I guess in the act of divorce one could say that Priscilla made her attempt, her statement and wake-up call—and it wasn’t enough. I loved the whole experience of seeing all those performers— Elvis’ only friends—but there was a part of me that looked askance, wanting even now to hold them to account and ask them, “Why didn’t you do something?”

Joe Krushinsky (as an enterprising college radio DJ)
Vice President, Institutional Advancement

1 comment:

Desiree said...

Love the Pic!