Monday, August 16, 2010

'Saw the ghost of Elvis on Union Avenue..'

"Before Elvis there was nothing..." - John Lennon

Thirty-three years ago today, Elvis Presley died.

One of my earliest memories of album covers is seeing the distinctive "50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong" at my aunt's house. She was in the Elvis Fan Club and used to have books and pictures, especially of him in Army uniform, all over the place.

She'd also play his records constantly, even though my then great-grandmother who lived with them would clearly disapprove. Luckily the old woman, who - hard life or not - I never remember having a good word for anyone, was deaf. She must have been able to feel the vibrations of the sound across the floor from her chair by the fire. Then she'd throw up her arms and shout "Bah!"

In the opposite corner of the room, my aunt - who was twelve years older than me and thus, by default, terminally cool - had a red Dansette record player just like this, and there were always sleeves for 45s strewn around it. One song I always remember her playing a lot was "It's Now Or Never" and its brilliant B-side, "A Mess Of Blues".

I sometimes think it's sad that my kids may never know the simple anticipation of the 'clunk' as the changer drops a single onto the turntable and, as if by magic, the arm moves across and falls into the lead groove with a reassuring "scratch".

Even though I lived in Tennessee for a year in the early 80s and visited Memphis a couple of times, I never went to Graceland, in part because I thought it might turn out to be something of a tacky circus. I guess I'd still prefer to think about Elvis's influence on the generations of artists who've followed him and how that timeline continues.

No comments:

Post a Comment