Thursday, August 28, 2014

Still the King


Singer Elvis Presley performing in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1977, three months before
TODAY is the 37th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death. He was only 42 when he died, so pretty soon he will have been dead for longer than he was alive. Already he has receded so far from living memory that it has become hard to talk sense about him. That doesn’t mean, of course, that people have stopped talking about him altogether. Quite the reverse; the fog of chatter that envelops him keeps getting thicker. The man can hardly be discerned through the haze of impersonations, pop allusions, Andy Warhol prints, “sightings”, mash-ups, remixes. 


Do we need to talk about him more? Yes, provided we can find a way of slicing through all that image-related static and reminding ourselves there was a human being behind it. We have become strangely callous on the subject of Elvis. For a man who brought a lot of people a lot of pleasure, and whose worst sins were committed against his own body, he certainly cops a lot of posthumous stick. We joke cynically about fat Elvis, Vegas Elvis, dead-on-the-can-with-a-cheeseburger Elvis. What other man in history has taken so much flak for letting himself go? [read more]