I’m going to talk a little about Elvis. I’m from Memphis, so it was bound to happen eventually.

I thought I could excuse myself from the Remember That Time festivities this week because I’m currently in my hometown of Memphis visiting friends and family, but I quickly learned that it’s pretty near impossible to co-host a nostalgia linkup and avoid writing about that town when all the memories are just begging to be recorded. So here we are. Hiiiiiii.

Growing up in Memphis, I imposed a moratorium on Elvis. There would be no discussion of the King within earshot of me because he was like totally lame and old and stuff and OMG did people really dress like that? Le barf. He was made for no other reason than to be screen printed on cheap t-shirts sold down on Beale Street and to make old ladies feel young. He was the son of my hometown, and I would have none of him, thanks.


That is, unless you give him to me over the radio. I loved me some swag when I was in the fourth grade, primarily because you can only get so far in life when your worldly possessions consist solely of Barbies whose hair you cut off and a collection of denim vests and Keds. So when the radio decided to give things away, I put their number on speed dial.

I aspire to be Mark-Paul Gosselar's hair when I grow up.

I aspire to be Mark-Paul Gosselar’s rhomboidal hair when I grow up.

Elvis Week (yes, that is a thing) was a time of year when the local radio stations played fast and loose with the giving away of merch (that’s short for “useless garbage”), so despite my distaste for Elvis, I called in when the DJ offered a chance to win an Elvis prize pack. Clearly Saved By the Bell was on commercial or I wouldn’t have even bothered. And I got through! I didn’t even have to answer any questions to receive my bounty of Elvis paraphernalia, consisting of tickets to Graceland, a subscription to the Elvis magazine (again, yes, that is a thing), an Elvis t-shirt, and a copy of Elvis: Live From Honolulu. This was a dream come true for me at the age of nine. I would surely be the envy of all my classmates when I came to school wearing an adult-sized shirt emblazoned with an entertainer who died several years before we were born.

My mom drove to the radio station to pick up all my loot. A few weeks later, she took me and one of my friends* to visit Graceland courtesy me and my phone dexterity. I was very impressed with Graceland because Elvis got to be buried in his own backyard and also because he had a Jungle Room in his house. The on-site cemetery was the height of sophistication for me. There is actually quite a bit of overlap between the taste of a fourth grade girl in the 90’s and a musical superstar of the 60’s and 70’s.

*Come to think of it, it was the girl who hosted the sleepover party where I almost got swallowed up into Hell. This girl is clearly becoming one of the supporting characters of my Remember the Time posts. That probably isn’t a very good thing.

elvis tombstone

I loved our trip to Graceland because it provided me with the opportunity to visit a part of Memphis that I had never been to before; for those unfamiliar with the city, there isn’t really a Gap close to Graceland. However, what I really wanted was to listen to my Elvis CD. It was the first compact disc I ever owned and I was discouraged because my family had not yet upgraded our family tape deck to play those tiny records. The only way to solve this problem was to take my CD over to my young, hip Aunt Jaye’s condo (which on more than one occasion I referred to as a “condom” at a church lock-in) and have her put it onto a tape for me so I could listen to it. Mind you, I still disliked Elvis, but since it was my CD, I needed to listen to it.

Jaye transferred the CD over and wrote each song title onto the tiny lines on the Memorex insert. I carried my tape home proudly, put it in our family’s stereo, and sat in the wingback chairs in our den with the sole intention to listen to the entire thing. I think I lasted nine minutes. I just couldn’t make it through Elvis’ crooning. Even though I loved his house, I simply couldn’t bring myself to sit through hours of his music. This may be the only indication that I was sort of normal back then.

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  1. I’m not an Elvis fan, either, so don’t feel bad.

  2. I remember the first time I heard Abba’s “Waterloo” on a cold, dark winter’s night when I was a kid in Indiana. It still hold’s memories for me every time I hear it. It’s amazing how some songs and artists hold a place in your brain for whatever reason.

  3. Hurray for winning stuff on the radio.
    We are so alike-no one else EVER would be smart enough to program in the radio station on speed dial. Right? I mean, when I was 10 that’s what I believed . .

  4. There is no one else’s post I would rather read about Elvis. You’ve made my Friday morning. I am very fond of Elvis (Le Barf) and my wedding dance (me and husband awkwardly stomping from side to side) was Are You Lonesome Tonight , the laugh version, where Elvis is too stoned to remember the words and makes up “Do the Chairs in your parlour seem empty and bare, do you gaze at your bold hair and wish you had hair?” which is so much better than the original. You are a wonderful writer.

  5. I never got Elvis either, and I’m practically elderly.

  6. I mentioned to my dad ONCE that I liked some movie that Elvis was in. Or that I watched a movie. Or maybe it was that I saw him in a commercial for a movie that would be on later in the day. I’m pretty sure it was the Hawaii one you talked about. So for my birthday the following week, guess what I got for a present. My very first album: Elvis on tape. Thanks, Dad. You really got me that year.

    I could have sent you the tape and it would’ve saved you the trouble of having your CD reverse its technological sophistication by moving to a Memorex. That sentence hurt my brain this early in the day. Love your posts, like always, doll.

  7. I had a thing when I was younger about wanting to see all of his movies. Luckily that passed.

  8. When I was little, there was a VERY VERY OLD lady that lived upstairs from us. One day, she begged me to watch an Elvis movie that was on TV so, I did. meh… But, she was IN LOVE with the guy and it made her so happy that I watched it with her.
    The irony of all of this is that Elvis died on my birthday – I remember it like it was yesterday. I wasn’t that old – maybe 10? We were spending the summer in Spain and it was on the news! So, every year, I have that flashback – Elvis died on my birthday while we were at my grandmother’s house ;) lol! ~maria

  9. There are a handful of Elvis songs that I like. Probably the best Elvis-related thing would have to be his movies. If you haven’t watched Viva Las Vegas, you need to. It’s so bad. SO BAD. But it almost circles back around to good.
    But I haven’t been to Graceland so that’s probably better than Viva Las Vegas.

  10. I can’t even handle all the lolz in this post! You’re killing me, Smalls! I think there is a very special relationship between kids and radio stations because I remember that we called the radio station so much that it was banned in our household. Bwahaha! I remember thinking that the djs were some kind of gods, and then when I saw them in person, I was totally disappointed by how normal-looking they were. Thus are youth’s dreams crushed! PS: Nick wrote 96X in Sharpie all over all of his Matchbox cars.

  11. I knew you couldn’t resist. I just knew there would be a radio post, and I’m thanking God there was. Calling into radio stations was the bomb! I never won though. Also, I was born the EXACT same day that Elvis died. My mom remembers being in labor and nurses coming in and crying because Elvis had just died. And she was all like, “I don’t give a &$^@* I’m having a baby here!” So I get to celebrate my birthday every year with Elvis gracing the airwaves. I did celebrate my 25th birthday at Graceland though. It seemed appropriate. And oh man…the crazies were out in full force. It was spectacular. I may have to blog about that day sometime.

  12. HAHAHAHAHAHA! “Condos!” Say it carefully around kids!

  13. Keep that pelvis far from me!!!! (I picture you singing this…)

  14. Now, I grew up about two hours away from Memphis, and I couldn’t get enough of Elvis…or Johnny Cash. Might be the whole “familiarity breeds contempt” concept, huh? I love going home Memphis way just to hear all the great music and eat the BBQ. Now I’m all nostalgic. Great…. :)

  15. Reblogged this on samhostblog and commented:
    that is funny

  16. Seriously, I think every blogger has to eventually write about Elvis! I have actually visited Memphis and I just wrote about Elvis in June. See, I told you we all eventually end up at Elvis! I loved your Elvis post, by the way. I think if I actually lived in Memphis I would ban all talk of Elvis around me as well! If you want to read about Elvis and his kitchen and what that has to do with my mom feel free.

  17. Glad you weighed in Emily! I was an Elvis fan… watched all the old movies, etc and loved his early persona. When we went to Memphis for a conference a few years ago, and Paul Simon’s song was in my head, so I went to Graceland. Loved it! By the end, I was a blubbering idiot, so sad that the King was dead. And yes, the Jungle Room… Totally! And, another great prompt.

  18. I figured you would show up!
    I always had such a hard time writing small enough for those memorex inserts when I was a kid. Then the ink would smear and I felt the like whole this was ruined…I may have perfectionist tendencies.

  19. calahan · · Reply

    I want to visit Graceland so bad. Have you ever been to Sun Studio?

  20. I went through a massive Elvis/Frank Sinatra/Beatles phase when I was 15. I’m from Liverpool so I guess the Beatles thing was inevitable but goodness knows where the other stuff came from. The Sound Of Music was also in there, as were The Monkees and Dolly Parton. I was clearly a teenage geek.

  21. I’ve been to Tupelo, Mississippi Elvis’ birthplace. The house he lived in from like age 1-3 was about 500 square feet!

  22. […] be more thrilled. I’ll be working for a nonprofit in Memphis (which you may remember is my hometown and a place I have yearned after for awhile now) that has an amazing mission of […]

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