That was Elvis’ mark–he conveyed his spirituality without being able, or needing, to express it. And all these adults with their more complicated lives and dreams and passions and hopes looked for themselves in his simplicity.
–Peter Guralnick, Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley
Today is the 35th anniversary of Elvis’s death. I remember the day vividly. My parents had divorced two years earlier and my dad visited us every Tuesday and Saturday. August 16, 1977 was a Tuesday, and as you might imagine that was a large chunk of the conversation that evening. Neither my mom or dad were that into the King, or even rock ‘n roll for that matter. People reached adulthood much younger during their time and they missed the phenomenom by a few years.
I am a third of the way through Last Train to Memphis. What I love is the way Guralnick stays out of the way and lets the story tell itself. He is not writing about a myth or cultural artifact, but about a person. This is something too often forgotten when we discuss the life of Elvis Presley. I attached “Polk Salad Annie” because my favorite Elvis songs have always been the ones with which we are less familiar. Enjoy.