Monday, August 13, 2007

Get out of jail free card

An unusually slow day at work today, so I skipped lunch and asked my manager if I could cut out early. She said sure! This probably sounds like no big deal to most of you, but believe me, it's very bizarre for all the work to be done so that one or more people can leave early. Since it happens so rarely, it's very liberating, and I feel like I broke out of Shawshank.

Last night, I was flipping channels and had a revelation. I have never seen the entire Elvis Presley special commonly called the '68 Comeback Special! [A piece of arcane Beth and Ken trivia: a few years ago, Brian Setzer put together a band called 68 Comeback Special--excellent, I recommend the CD highly--and we saw them at House of Blues in Chicago. The night before, Ken proposed to me on the ferris wheel at Navy Pier. Awww!] I've seen parts here and there, but I have never seen it in its entirety. Still haven't, actually, because I came across it a half an hour into it. But this is definitely something I, as an Elvis fan, must get on DVD. Parts of it were so cheesy, like the choreographed fight, with Elvis throwing karate kicks and karate chops. Hai Chiba! (That means nothing, it's just the sound I think I would make if I were to throw a karate chop.) But let me tell you what. Regardless of how you feel about Elvis--perhaps too many people remember him as the overweight, drug-addled Elvis--I defy anyone to watch that special and not recognize what kind of charisma the guy had. First of all, he was just incredibly handsome, almost surreally so. In the special, he wore that famous black leather suit, and this was before he started putting on the pounds. This was lean 'n mean Elvis.

Secondly, he had some amazing stage presence, whether it was a devilish look in his eye or that hip action that gave him the nickname Elvis the Pelvis. He could really work a crowd, and this wasn't a bunch of screaming teenage girls. These were people a little older, and they listened in rapt attention. (It was fun to see all the big ol' bouffants! I love that kind of stuff!)

Finally, the special was also probably the peak of his vocal power. Much of it was just he and the band sitting around singing and playing--the original MTV Unplugged! His voice was so powerful and incredible, with a little of that raw edge that makes it so cool, and I think the best example of that is when he sings "If I Can Dream." I've written about that before.

I found myself sitting there mesmerized. What a performer. Hard to believe he was dead just a few years later, and hard to believe that special is almost 40 years old. And yet it still rocks! I'm not one of those wacky people who thinks Elvis is still alive, but he's still in my heart, that's for sure. Elvis, you da man!

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