I’d like to give a shout out to cousin Anderson. Last week most television anchors bantered mindlessly about the 25th anniversary of Elvis’ death. Smiling anchor one: What’s your favorite Elvis song? Smiling anchor two: Ha, ha, that’s funny, I really don’t know.
But cousin Anderson — CNN anchor Anderson Cooper (not really a cousin) — gets my great respect for his work on the subject. Working the early morning hours last Friday, Anderson did the King proud. Live on air, he practiced his Elvis sneer. Behind him, he had an Elvis impersonator walk around the newsroom. To close, he let the guy sing a few tunes, including the terrific “Love Me.”
This kind of effort… I can appreciate.
It all began in fifth grade. The theme for the Blessed Sacrament School musical that year was rock and roll. The musical wasn’t an actual musical; each grade sang a song based around a theme. Long story short, my grade ended up with “Blue Suede Shoes.”
Not really knowing who this Elvis character was, I went with my mom after school to Mazza Gallerie and stopped at the record store. We searched through the Elvis cassette tapes until we found one with “Blue Suede Shoes” on the tracklist. The tape was Elvis: A Legendary Performer, Volume 2. I popped it in my tape player when I got home, and it was something. I had walked unfamilar to the ways of rock and roll for so long, but Elvis on a tinny kids’ tape player changed my life that day. When my mom went out to run an errand, I turned it up loud and danced on the living room couch.
It snowballed from there. I slicked my hair back for the musical and painted black sideburns down to the bottom of my ears. I worked up an Elvis impersonation, which impressed the relatives. For a Christmas, I got a set of Elvis stamps from the island nation of St. Vincent. (They passed my name on to Graceland, who continues to mail me offers on Elvis-themed credit cards.) For the same Christmas, I got the USPS Elvis stamp bath towel. (I voted repeatedly for Young Elvis in the competition.) These years are cloudy for me now, but I know there was a “Why Elvis is a good role model” school essay involved too.
Ridiculous? Yes. But fun. One year I was the King for Halloween, and I raked in the candy. The next year I was “Elvis Goes to the Supermarket,” dressed the same but carrying a grocery bag with a Cheerios box inside. Sure, creativity was down, but enthusiasm and candy-collection totals remained high.
In high school, Elvis faded for me a bit. I found my dad’s LP of CCR’s Gold and got into them. Then Springsteen showed up on my radar, and my rock and roll trifecta was complete.
But last week. Last week was pretty cool, and I’m understating here. Elvis on the television, Elvis on the radio, Elvis in the food. It threw me back to fifth grade, to the time when music got me all shook up and kept me that way.
Ridiculous? Yes. But have you heard the news? There’s good rockin’ tonight. And I thank Elvis for that.