Elvis changed my life.
Well, Jesus changed it first, when I was seven, but Elvis wasn't far behind.
I'm not putting the two on par with each other, as some do. But the King of Rock and Roll was important to a true Southern boy growing up.
I had a toy tennis racket that Mama tied a string around so I could pretend I was playing a guitar, and off I went to Memphis to play with Elvis.
Hound Dog? No problem, you ain't nothing but a. Blue Suede Shoes? Don't step on 'em. Are You Lonesome Tonight? I can help out. Return to Sender? No such zone, no such code.
I was infected with a hip problem...mine wouldn't stop moving, and my leg swiveled when I sang.
It wasn't always cool to love Elvis, but I didn't care. I had the one-two-three-four, operation G.I. Blues.
I wasn't old enough to understand all about love, but I knew the King did. If only he had married Ann-Margret for real and not just in "Viva Las Vegas". If only.
I drove his race car, flew his helicopter, wore his clothes. I was the King, a few years and miles away from the actual person. All my friends wanted to be Elvis, but they were just poor impersonators. I had it down and wasn't ashamed of it. I could sneer, lip up, and sing his songs by heart.
I was on the beach at Daytona in the early 70's, laying on the sand after coming out of the ocean, when I felt a shadow over me. This older lady was standing there and she said, "Does anybody ever tell you that you look like Elvis?"
I said, "Thank you, thank you very much."
When Elvis left the building for the last time in 1977, my best friend heard it before I did and was hesitant to tell me because he knew how much I loved him. He pulled me aside that afternoon and told me "the King's gone, man."
Not as long as I'm around, he's not.
My daughter loves Elvis, thinks he's beautiful, and wants to know if I think he's in heaven.
I saw him in concert once and someone yelled out, "You're the King!" He replied, "There's only one King, and that's Jesus."
Is he in heaven? Absolutely. He was raised right before he was raised on rock, a church-going, Jesus-loving Southern boy. Black velvet and angel wings.
He once said that all he ever really wanted to do was sing gospel music. I guess now he is, over in the Promised Land.
Suspicious Minds? You know I'd never lie to you, baby.
Thankyouthankyouverymuch, Elvis. Happy Birthday.