Today, Elvis Aaron Presley would have been 78 years old. I wonder what the King would think of the world in which we now live. E was a complex man, a politically conservative drug addict who cherished his parents, loved his wife, and yet cheated on her on a regular basis. He lived a life of celebrity dysfunction. Much of his music reflected the turmoil that surrounded him. From the testosterone laden, chest pounding thumping beat of “Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Love,” the heartbreak of “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” and the promise of “In the Ghetto,” he entertained tens of millions by singing about his life. He was both loyal and generous to his friends and fans, yet at the end, he died alone. His death was reminiscent of a line from the T.S. Eliot poem The Hollow Men: “That’s the way the world ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper.”
Once a year on this date, I fix an Elvis Special – A peanut butter, banana, and bacon sandwich. The correct way of making this sandwich is to mash two tablespoons of creamy peanut butter together with a slightly ripe banana to make a spread. Make a sandwich with white bread and the spread. Saute the sandwich in a cast iron pan in butter. When brown and toasted on both sides, remove from the pan and trim the crust from the sandwich and add two slices of crisp bacon. Elvis was known to consume as many as forty of these in one sitting.
As the King of Rockin’ Roll and the most prominent Southerner since Robert E. Lee, I wonder if Elvis would feel any responsibility for some of the problems facing us today. . . obesity, prescription drug abuse, continued racism. The older I get, I find I am less critical of some and more critical of others, much like the way many people felt about the young Elvis versus the Vegas Elvis.
Our country is facing some monumental problems. Our leaders for the most part are at war. What we have to do is decide what kind of country we want to be. A young Elvis, or the Vegas Elvis?