While the soundtrack of my life has varied over the years, there has been one constant – Elvis Presley.
Some of my earliest memories involve listening to 45-RPM Elvis records that Mom played loudly on her record player console. I was about 2-years-old.
This was not only a record player, but also a massive piece of wooden furniture with record storage and integrated speaker(s). You could also stack albums or singles so that it automatically played the next record after one finished.
Years later, that console finally gave out, and we dumped it to free up space. How I wish we had saved it.
I must have fancied myself quite the Elvis impersonator as a toddler, because I remember singing along to those records while holding a blue stick with a red ball on top – a toy’s handle that served as my “microphone.” To “dance,” I simply turned around in circles. Sadly, my dance moves have not improved since then.
Another early memory is Mom crying as she told me that Elvis had died. At 2, I did not really understand death. I believe she explained it to me as a kind of permanent sleep. She probably mentioned Heaven, too. I do not remember for sure.
What I do remember for sure, though, was the innocent question I asked next, “Will his voice still be on the records?” My heart sank as I imagined playing records of silence.
“Yes, his voice will always be there,” Mom said. This made me feel better.
I remember our family watching press conferences and tributes that night. There was more talking than music, and I understood little of the talking.
I remember watching the funeral procession with Mom a couple of days later on TV. Reporters wore large headsets with microphones, as if covering a sports event.
Surrounded by motorcycle officers, a white hearse led a trail of white cars from Graceland, while thousands of people lined the streets of Memphis trying to catch a final glimpse.
From that moment on, Elvis was gone forever.
Gone, but the story continued.
Yesterday marked 38 years since Elvis passed away. Along with millions of others, that little 2-year-old is still listening.
Due to alternate takes, outtakes, and live recordings, exponentially more Elvis music has been released since his death than ever came out during his lifetime.
I own over 4,000 different Elvis tracks. If I were to play Elvis constantly without sleeping, I could go for over a week without hearing a duplicate track.
This is a staggering number, yet I do not even have every Elvis track officially available. Not even close.
When it comes to the music, it truly is as if Elvis never died.
After 38 years, that magic vault of unreleased music is no doubt starting to look barren. However, I believe there will still be a few genuine Elvis surprises to emerge in coming years.
If I am wrong, and all the valuables have already escaped, it is hard to dispute that 38 years makes for a long encore.
Besides, as a wise woman once said, “His voice will always be there.”