Happy Birthday, Elvis!

January 8th, 2016

So many stories and articles have been written about Elvis Presley. It’s hard to imagine what can possibly be added.

Elvis is an icon like JFK, The Beatles, and Marilyn Monroe. Like them, people still can’t get enough of Elvis. Fans still buy merchandise associated with him and make pilgrimages to Graceland if they can. Today would have been Elvis’s eighty-first birthday. You read that right. The King of Rock N Roll would have been an octogenarian had he not died in 1977 from heart failure.

Paul and me with Elvis (sort of).

Paul and me with Elvis (sort of).

Growing up in Indiana, I always knew that Elvis’s last concert before he died was in Indianapolis. The fact that Elvis died young makes it easier for people to celebrate his life today. It didn’t hurt that during the height of his fame, Elvis was a beautiful man with a beautiful voice. We all know that’s a great combination anyway, but for Elvis it was even better because he also had a magnetism that literally made women faint. My husband is a sculptor among other things, and he says Elvis had the face of a Roman god. He was a perfect model and a beautiful man with an amazing voice.

Granted, Elvis didn’t end his life quite that way. By the end, he was overweight and his years of drug abuse were clearly evident. But that’s not the Elvis we all remember or that throngs of fans still honor and celebrate today.

And while there will certainly be celebrations everywhere, this is also a good time to reflect on the tragic side of Elvis and people like him. With all his amazing talent, good looks, and good fortune, ultimately he couldn’t handle it all. Sadly, there are more celebrities just like him. These are people who just can’t deal with fortune and fame.

Most people have ordinary lives with some living much better while others are worse off. All of these folks must surely wonder how someone who appears to have everything could squander and ruin it all. Sometimes the famous people take their own lives either intentionally or accidently. Other times they spend years in therapy. It’s fascinating and maybe an ode to the Average Joe. There is something to be said for simplicity. If you ask people, many likely would trade places with someone like Elvis in a heartbeat while others wouldn’t even want to spend ten minutes in his shoes. Who are you? A regular Ed or Elvis wannabe?

I think Elvis had a great life that went over the top at the end. But hey, that’s the price sometimes paid for greatness. Do you want a lifetime of easy Ed or excess Elvis? Being Ed is like riding a Merry Go Round. It’s a nice ride, but nothing really changes. Elvis is like riding the roller coaster. You lose your breath with all the ups and downs and sometimes you’re sure you aren’t even going to make it to the end of the ride.

Personally, I’d rather ride the roller coaster and take the risks and have fun. But that’s not for everyone.

Today, as we remember Elvis let’s celebrate his amazing talent and admire his beauty. Let’s thank the King for his movies and music. Those are gifts we’ll have forever.

So thanks, Mr. Presley. Thanks for being an amazing inspiring success story. Your rags to riches story is an inspiration and further proof that wonderful things can be accomplished in our great country.