Monday, September 24, 2012

ELVIS




His gestures, the fingers, the hands. said that he was into whatever he was singing, the song itself, the words, the idea.

His dancing -- the knee that kept time, giggly knees, the trucking feet and legs -- it was natural, done without thinking, just him and his body being what he was. He danced as if he couldn’t help doing what he was doing.

I was a fan. I am a fan. Embarrassed, even annoyed by all those weepy, thrilled, young and old females who loved him -- truly loved him. I know that kind of love. (Hey, I married a man who had an inner thing like Elvis had -- his own thing. When you see a person like that, you can fall in love with that person -- it’s a nutty, crazy, adoration.

Sure, I saw Elvis change as he aged and got heavy -- saw him sweat, use his scarves to mop himself and toss his scarves to his fans, and drive them crazy. I saw what he wore -- his taste, jewels, capes, low-hung belt studded with glittering things. Those gaudy, outrageous things that thrilled him -- did I look down on them? Sure. I loved and laughed at what I saw -- mostly just loved it because that’s what he was.

I have been mentioning everything except his voice. The range, the control he hand, his lower register, wow -- like a Stradavariaus Cello, his voice was somehow encased in him perfectly, so perfectly that the tone was ... it was glory hallelujah.

I’m not listing the titles of my favorite songs that he sang. I don’t know the titles. I was in the middle of my career in modern dance -- another world filled with music of Beethoven, Bach, Henze, Vivaldi, Mahler and original music that I commissioned three composers to write for my choreography. I was touring -- doing one night stands -- tired of touring, but I knew that touring was bread and butter -- the only way I could keep on dancing.

Elvis toured, and touring is a killer way of performing. All that we’ve learned about Elvis, after he died on his toilet -- awful that we had to know that -- it was shocking to learn about his pills and medications, and why he was hooked on them.

None of this ugly reality is on my mind when I hear him. I saw a movie, ELVIS ON TOUR a few nights ago. It was spliced-together clips that revealed all the aspects of Elvis -- great moments, embarrassing, amusing, and real moments -- his enormous ego, his kindness, his amazing awareness of others, his huge love of music.

That love he felt for music overwhelms everything else I know about him. Music was everything to him -- gospel music -- it came from the world in which he was born and lived in all his life. Gospel was his family.

I am a writer, and I work on what I write -- research often, and feel out what’s on my mind. I haven’t figured out what the point is, of this Elvis essay. I loved his music, loved what came out of that voice.

Elvis was to me, still is, a preacher in song.



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