Today is Elvis Presley’s 75th birthday and instead of celebrating him, we instead must deal with our woe in missing him, and in coping with what he left behind, and we’re left this way because of his his selfishness in drug addiction.
There’s nothing great about today except the fragile living on the memories of what was and the uneasy knowing of what will never be.
No artist in history did more for popularizing “Black Music” in mainstream music than Elvis did for the Memphis Blues. He made The Blues accessible to a whole new generation of young White kids who didn’t really know what that “gospel” and “ghetto music” was all about.
Here’s The King in his comeback performance of 1968 singing his very first Blues hit, “That’s All Right:”
When you watch that beautiful song, you cannot help but feel a
crushing sadness for all the talent and hope he threw away in his love of pills over the honor of living. Elvis Presley owned the world, and he flushed it all down
the toilet in an ugly and terrorizing death.
Here’s another example of Elvis’ brave, pioneering, aesthetic in 1970 as he brought to life the struggle of the Black experience in the ghetto right into the living rooms of middle class, White America:
I know we’re supposed to be celebrating Elvis today on his birthday — but sometimes the longing for the loss and the bitterness in the avoidable demise are too overwhelming to mark with joy instead of despair.
Perhaps we’ll feel differently in another 75 years.