Elvis and Me

Against my religion since i have sworn off all movies, news, and most sports events except for depressing Padre baseball games — no, i don’t know why i watch Padre games — i watched a movie Monday night. Oh…okay, i do watch old oaters, and few special ones like “The Quiet Man,” “Silverado,” and anything produced by Mel Brooks.

“Elvis” was streaming. i don’t even really understand what “streaming” means except there are somewhere near 450 gazillion things i can watch if i pay to stream them. Incredibly, very few of them are something i would want to watch.

The movie was “Elvis.” i shall not critique too much here because i do not qualify for a movie critic. If it ain’t an oater, then i’m not qualified.

But “Elvis,” the movie, took me to many, many places, including writing a post. i have somewhere around 786 posts started, lying fallow in my notes and draft. But this book has morphed into a time bandit, requiring me to do some things i would never have imagined i would be doing at 78. Now, Elvis has called me.

i looked up Sun Records where Elvis’ career was launched. i had a pleasant wander through the annals of the Memphis recording studio. The first thing that struck me was there was this guy, old guy at 58, when Elvis cut “That’s All Right” for Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun. i have a a 45 RPM record of Mr. Yelvington’s stored in one of my empty Henry Weinhard’s 12-beer cartons — the emptied boxes, of which there were quite a few, made terrific storage boxes, that transition capability discovered when JD Waits and i shared the ultimate bachelor pad in the Coronado Cays in 1982-83 and screwed it up by both of us getting engaged within four and six months of moving in.

The old guy’s performing name at Sun Records was Malcolm Yelvington. i don’t have his biggest hit, a cover of “Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee”  by Sticks McGhee & His Buddies, but i do have “Rocking With My Baby.” Haven’t played it in years. Now, i must dig it up out of one of those Henry Weinhard cartons.

But i digress, a common and often affliction of mine.

“Elvis” brought back memories. Like Lebanon Junior High memories. From that early prehistoric moment until college, i wanted to look like Elvis. Hell, i wanted to sing like Elvis. i wanted girls to like me like they liked…no, loved Elvis. i wore Levis with no belt, white socks, and shirts with the collar turned up and buttons unbuttoned down as far as i could manage. i pitifully combed back my hair to a woeful incomplete ducktail because my mama and daddy refused such foolishness. i must looked like one really goofy pre-teen. And then i went to Castle Heights Military Academy and the ducktail effort became more pathetic.

Recalling that now, i try hard, very hard, not to denigrate young folks for their choice of dress…except, of course, for this very strange fashion craze of jeans that look like my mama would have thrown away.

i recalled how Elvis captured me, not with hip swiveling, gyrating antics, but his voice, his range, his emotion. His rendition of Tex Ritter’s “Old Shep” still makes me tear up. i felt like i was him when his friend told him Marie was the name of his latest flame. Even Mrs. Gwaltney, my piano teacher who, when i was in the eighth grade, had driven me to a piano recital at George Peabody in Nashville, and as we drove back home, turned on the radio and told me how she liked to hear him sing.

Lord, lord, lord, how i wish i was so innocent again.

i was very satisfied with the movie. It was a bit too hip — Is that an operational description anymore? — and i suspect it made Parker a bit more of a bad guy than he was, but i don’t know. No, i don’t know, and neither do the directors and producers of this film.

But there was one thing missing:

“Thank yah, thank yah very much.”

3 thoughts on “Elvis and Me

  1. I watched that movie too, Jim, and, like you, it took me many, many places. When I was in 8th grade, the year before Heights for me, I was in love with a girl named Carolyn Stratton who loved Elvis much more than she loved me. Those innocent years with just a few truly great musical artists – Elvis was one, Fats, Chuck Berry, Little Richard – and the Coasters. Clyde McPhatter, Jerry Lee Lewis. The movie took me back to those years and evoked memories of all that great early rock and roll music and the crazy hair and the trying so hard to be cool… I’m loving your book, by the way, enjoyed reading your reflections on Elvis.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *