I don’t remember when Elvis died, but he was certainly larger than life during my childhood. When I was little my home was full of music – my dad playing guitar, vinyl and 8-tracks everywhere. The radio was always on, and I even had my own little record player. Later, as things changed, I don’t know if it was the same for my brother and if his connection to music and my parents was so inseparable. But when I was young, our house was always humming, and Elvis was certainly part of that soundtrack. Whenever I think of Elvis, I think of being a little kid.
On this day in 1954 Elvis Presley had his first commercial recording session at Sun Studio in Memphis, TN. He recorded That’s All Right and Blue Moon of Kentucky, and, well, the rest is history. Elvis went on to sell over a billion records worldwide. There’s so much to say about Elvis, though very little that hasn’t been said already. A few years ago my friend Annette and I went to Graceland – even on a weekday the place was teeming with tourists. I didn’t feel much of a connection, honestly I was more excited to get a TCB koozie. I wonder if Sun Studio wouldn’t mean more to me – the combination of Elvis, Mystery Train, Johnny Cash, and Blue Suede Shoes might be a little more compelling than leopard print.
Still, it’s hard to dismiss his incredible influence on culture, and the business of music. Call it stealing or homage, he bridged a culture gap between black and white music that definitely enriched our collective popular musical experiences. It’s weird to think that kids growing up now, if they even know who Elvis is, he’s probably just a footnote or a joke. But he had a honey voice, brilliant instincts, and wit. I like to remember early Elvis, when he was all flash and charm, his smooth lyrics yearning for his lost love.