I’d like to talk a little bit about EWS, or Elvis Worship Syndrome.
You must know the condition. Every family either has or knows somebody who suffers from this malady; yet its treated lightly, ignored, or laughed about behind closed doors. The signs are obvious, but once this fixation takes hold nothing can be done to stop it. Think about that crazy uncle with the big sideburns who proudly displays a giant airbrushed Elvis tapestry in his living room. He has Elvis busts on the porch, Elvis ashtrays, Elvis drinking glasses, Elvis playing cards, Elvis t-shirts, Elvis hats, Elvis pillow cases, Elvis oven mitts, Elvis plates from the Franklin Mint hanging in the dining room…
After your visit you always have a good chuckle thinking about your zany uncle and his kooky obsession. Its just crazy to be so obsessive about anything, let alone a performer who left the great stage 30 years ago. A singer who became so diluted through merchandising and marketing that he started to become a parody of himself while he was still alive. Yet for some reason when you get home and admire the framed, hand-drawn portraits on your wall of the beatles from the cover of the White Album, pop on the latest repackaged album, have drink from your lead paint based Yellow Submarine mug and put on your New York City t-shirt nothing seems odd. In fact, you don’t give it a second thought.
I hate to break it to you, but it appears your kooky old uncle isn’t as bad off as you. If you told him that Elvis was corny, he’d agree that Elvis might have succumbed to the cheese factory. He is aware of the kitsch factor, revels in the nostalgia, and welcomes the snickers of those who would mock him. Why? Because he understands who he is and what he likes, he is self-aware, and he understands that those people laughing just don’t get it, and probably never will. You, on the other hand, are completely oblivious to the fact that they quit seven years before Elvis, and you continue to argue the fact that the FF are not only still relevant, but were the greatest band that ever lived and changed rock and roll and saved the world and were geniuses and and and. If your uncle told you the beatles were cheesy, you’d disown him.
Lets pretend for a minute that the FF weren’t the blueprint for every pre-fab boy band or musical genius inspired by the beatles group of the week, and compare accomplishments. Elvis had 29 consecutive #1 hits; the beats…22. Elvis had another #1 hit twenty-five years after he died; The beats…no. Elvis made 33 films; the beats…5. Elvis’s first 24 albums reached the top 5; the beats…24 albums!?! Elvis rose to the top despite being surrounded by performers like Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis; the beats…rose to the top despite being surrounded by German brothels. Elvis recorded 78 albums; the beats…12. Elvis was a dynamic performer who dazzled crowds, driving them to hysterics; the beats crowds were hysterical and drove them off the stage. Elvis was seen as ‘the personification of evil,’ ‘the first rock symbol of teenage rebellion’ and ‘a definite danger to the security of the United States’ when he started out. He was threatened with jail for dancing and barred from appearing on several television shows; the beats…wore pretty suits and were widely accepted as the cute boys next door. Oh yeah, they smoked pot in the 60’s, those rebels. Elvis fought in the army, swung with Muhammad Ali and mastered Karate; the beats…? Lets just say if Elvis had been a gunslinger there’d be a whole lot of dead copycats.
Take a look at how these performers handled themselves in similar situations:
I know that it means nothing coming from us at SMB, lets hear what your master says for himself. John Lennon is quoted as saying, “Nothing really affected me until I heard Elvis. If there hadn’t been an Elvis, there wouldn’t have been a Beatles.”
So, the next time you leave your crazy uncles house pause outside the window. I guarantee you’ll hear him in there, laughing hysterically at your ridiculous obsession.
A little less conversation indeed.
A rare photo of Elvis taking care of business at Abbey Road. Shortly after this was taken the beatles broke up.
Thanks to John Pazdan and Gary Hall for the inspiration.