Friday, January 09, 2004

All Hail the King!

Okay, so I'm a few hours late, but January 8th woulda been, coulda been, shoulda been Elvis Presley's birthday. Damn prescription drugs!

But really, let's ponder the wonder that is The King: hasn't Elvis been a part of our lives, in some way, OUR WHOLE LIVES? Pretty nuts, if you think about it. Mojo Nixon was right - Elvis really IS everywhere.

Maybe you have a bunch of Elvis records (mom and dad). Maybe you have a bunch of Elvis CDs (um, those of you who started buying music after 1987 or your parents who swapped all their vinyl for those neat shiny discs). Maybe you don't own any of Elvis' music at all, but you have to own at least ONE piece of Elvis schtick - uh, memorabilia. I've got an Elvis clock (his legs swing to the rockin' tick tock rhythm), a plate, divinity candles, a Velvis (I think most folks who grew up in Southern California were required to pick one of those up at a border crossing at some point in their lives), and even a knife.

My favorite Elvis item, however, is the Are You Hungry Tonight cookbook, by Brenda Arlene Butler. It consists of Elvis' favorite recipes, which include the infamous fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches - and also the burnt bacon with mustard ones - as well as things like kale with cheese, burgers, pork chops and yams. It even devotes the last 10 pages on how to recreate the royal wedding cake made for Elvis & Priscilla, right down to the latticework patterns on the frosting and the pink netting on the table.

But the best part of the whole book is the way Brenda Arlene tries to get you in the mood for cooking up an Elvis menu. "Imagine it's Tupelo, Mississippi, in the 1930s. The sun is sinking in the West, Vernon is on the front porch, little Elvis is playing in the yard, and Gladys is in the kitchen cutting up chicken to fry... Put Big Boss Man on the turntable, close your eyes, smell the chicken frying, and imagine that the King will be coming in your door at any minute. " Um, yea. Go Brenda! I don't even want to know what kind of scenario this lady dreams up when she's taking a shower and imagining that the King will be coming in her door at any minute... Shudddddderrrrrr...

I really, really do appreciate the King, though. If you always wanted to know more about the man than the myth, I'd highly recommend the pair of books written by Peter Guralnick, a music journalist and researcher who's been in the biz since Elvis was shakin' his stuff at the chickens in the coop. The first, Last Train to Memphis, tells the tale of a young man's rise to glory, and the second, Careless Love, tells of how the King fell from his throne. But in the most respectful way possible. They're fabulous books.

And see "King Creole," because Elvis really could act.