Thursday, March 20, 2014

Rant #1,368: Way Down Payment

Yesterday was a pretty auspicious anniversary--sort of--and I can kind of kick myself for missing it.

On March 19, 1957, a young man put a down payment on his house.

Oh, sure, a million young men probably did just that on that day, but one of them made his home into one of the most popular destinations in the U.S.

That guy was Elvis Presley, and as legend has it, he put down $1,000 on a home that then cost the astronomical sum of $102,000.

That home became known as Graceland, and it certainly is one of the most popular stops in the southern part of this country.

I am an Elvis fan to a certain degree.

I love his early stuff, and a lot of his later stuff, too, but that early stuff set the tone for rock and roll.

He wasn't Little Richard, he wasn't Chuck Berry and he wasn't Jerry Lee Lewis.

He had a more refined (than those other guys, at least), almost angelic aura around him, and while those guys were the real pioneers of this type of music, Elvis really brought it to the masses, and made it acceptable to most people.

Sure, his hip swinging was looked down by many people--remember, he got shot only from the stomach up in his early TV appearances--but he really made rock and roll palatable to the general public.

And Graceland was supposed to be his refuge, the place that, like any man, he could go after work to be himself, be a husband to his wife, Priscilla, and to be a father to his daughter, Lisa Marie.

Of course, we all know that that did not work itself out quite the way he might have planned it. The place became Elvis' prison, and he died there all hopped up on drugs and probably not the happiest guy in the world.

But Graceland has lived on, and will live on. It is popular tourist attraction in Memphis, and millions flock there every year.

It is open to the public for tours, and although I have never been there, it looks like it might be a fun place to spend a day or two.

I wasn't born when he put down that down payment--my parents' little dividend would come into the world about five and a half weeks later--but I liked Elvis and his music, didn't love it, but liked it and respected it for what it was.

Sure, much of his output after I came into this world was schlocky, but he continued to be popular, even with the coming of the Beatles.

When he died, he was in the midst of a major comeback, had a hit single on the charts--"Way Down"--which was propelling his LP, "Moody Blue" to the upper reaches of the charts.

You can say what you want about Elvis, but he kept pushing until his dying day.

And he did it all from his Graceland base, the house that really never became the true home that Elvis had hoped it would be.

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