Monday, August 13, 2007

Tupelo Honey

"A little less conversation, a little more action please. All this aggravation ain't satisfactioning me. A little more bite and a little less bark. A little less fight and a little more spark. Close your mouth and open up your heart and baby satisfy me. Satisfy me baby.’’
Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building… Even so, he is still very much a presence to people of all shapes and sizes, cultures and even musical tastes. I was pleasantly surprised the other day when a young lady shared her headphone with me to hear a bit of Elvis’s ‘’Milk Cow Blues Boogie,`` one of the first songs he recorded with Scotty and Bill for Sun Records. The song knocked me out of a reverie of time and place as I was having a solo picnic lunch in the grass of the Outer Garden of the Imperial Palace grounds in central Tokyo.
The thoughtful Japanese woman who shared the bit of Elvis music with me said she loves Elvis. I asked how she knew of his music, and she said her grandmother had been a big Elvis fan, and she listened to the records as a little girl on visits to Granny’s home. This, I think, is what being immortal really means: Someone can so affect the thoughts of another and those influences pass from generation to generation.
So Elvis is still with us, and his musical influence brought back other memories of my disrupted reflections of a beautiful young woman who has also been greatly influenced by her grandmother’s musical tastes. She’s the person who shared a picnic with me on that same spot just two years ago.
So I made a quiet little toast to the health and happiness of that lady, wherever she may be, and said a little prayer that her life will be better. And later that day, I went to the nearest HMV and found a new Elvis compilation – yet another, but a very good one, both in the choice of songs in the anthology and the quality of the remastering. It’s called The Sun Sessions, and it’s another tribute to the durability of Elvis’s influence on music and musical tastes.
Elvis was not just another white guy ripping off songs by black musicians. Even the great John Lee Hooker paid tribute to fellow Tupelo, Mississippi, homeboy Elvis in his powerful ‘’Tupelo,’’ a blues song recalling the ‘’Great Flood’’ of 1934 that I think still stands as the worst tornado in U.S. history.
Elvis died on August 16, 1977, at the age of 42, a victim of various excesses. He left behind more than 600 fan clubs and the vigorous Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc., which runs his estate, Graceland, and keeps the Elvis mystique primed with memorabilia like Elvis spoons, plates, mouse pads and teddy bears. (Yes, Elvis and I and the lady I can’t stop loving shared a fondness for teddy bears.) There are, I am told, Elvis-memorial Reese Cups filled with peanut butter and banana cream.
As it happens, that little musical interlude in the grass was not only just a week ahead of the anniversary of one of the sweetest moments in my life, but also a week before the anniversary of Elvis’s death, and the start of a week of observances related to it. And thinking about that was a big help in getting me out of a state of depression and putting my head in what I hope is the right direction. I recommend that to everyone.

To vicariously join in some of the Elvis recollection, see the everything-Elvis site at
And to see where Elvis made that first 1954 recording of ‘’That’s All Right’’ that started the fuss, go to the Sun Records site, at*Yp5fV2&product=Elvis%20Presley

1 comment:

Connie Smith said...

See "Survivor Tribute" at