It would be just plain wrong of me to let this day go by without noting that this is the 30th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. He was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, and lived here until he turned 13 when his family moved to Memphis. Most people who know Elvis think about Graceland, his home in Memphis, which by the way is definitely worth a visit even if you aren’t a fan of his music. But here in Tupelo, his birthplace is a beautiful shrine of sorts, and there is an Elvis Presley trail of important sites, including the hardware store on Main Street where he bought his first guitar. We even have an Elvis Presley Lake. Every year we have an Elvis Festival that draws thousands of people for a big celebration. This morning’s Daily Journal put Elvis in the headlines with a “where were you when you heard the news?” article about his death 30 years ago today. There are still quite a few folks in Tupelo who remember him from his boyhood days, and they share their memories from time to time. I don’t remember where I was when I heard he had died, but I vividly recall that Marlene and I happened to be driving through north Mississippi the next day–thirty years ago tomorrow–on our way to Oxford. Every radio station paused at noon for two minutes of silence in memory of Elvis.
Not that it matters, but I prefer his early music to his later music, with one exception. His “American Trilogy” is my favorite Elvis song. Gary Olson loved Elvis and every week when he picked me up to go to Promise Keepers, he had an Elvis CD playing in his car. He and I would sing along with Elvis on our way to the Promise Keepers meeting, and we almost always played the “American Trilogy.”
That’s the news from Tupelo, where it is unbelievably hot and muggy
today, thirty years after Elvis left the building for the final time.