My Love Affair With Elvis
In 1956 when I was not yet 17 years old, I visited a couple of newly wedded friends, and we watched The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show on TV. An odd looking, but handsome young man took the stage and began to perform a Bill Haley and the Comets song called “Shake, Rattle and Roll.” But he combined it with another song called “Flip, Flop and Fly.” The thing that caught my eye was that he didn’t just sing, he MOVED his entire body to the beat of the music! Well! I sat up and took notice of this out-of-the-ordinary performance. How could I not?
After all, these were the days of still popular big bands and crooners like Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Perry Como, who simply stood and sang into a microphone. Watching this young man perform, I couldn’t take my eyes away from that scintillating figure on the screen. Who was he? It was the first TV performance of a man who became an icon in the world of rock ‘n roll, Elvis Presley.
To be honest I was rather embarrassed by my reaction to him, because my well-meaning parents drummed into my mind that girls needed to be respectable in their behavior. The feelings this handsome guy brought out in me didn’t actually fit that description. Hey, don’t blame me…it was the fault of my teenage hormones and the unique entertainer on stage.
Elvis…all the love songs he sang to me…as well as just about every girl in the world.
You might also have guessed that my love affair with Elvis was one-sided, that is to say, I loved him…but he knew nothing about me except that I bought my share of his records as just about every other teenage girl did. His love songs are what I put on this page, because that’s what resonated with my trembling heart. I liked all his music, but somehow, “Hound Dog,” just didn’t get to me like, “Love Me Tender.”
One Sided Love Affair
Unfortunately, my love affair with Elvis WAS one-sided, but I could dream and I sure did. This recording was a favorite too, because it was exactly the way I felt….I wished my love affair wasn’t one sided, but it was destined to remain so.
When his career took off, after his TV debut, Elvis Presley was criticized for his movements while performing. He was called “Elvis the Pelvis,” by people who had no idea he was going to be the biggest thing to hit the country since Baby Ruth candy bars. He was criticized and called obscene by some straight-laced people. Other performers of the day, like Frank Sinatra, had nothing good to say about his performance.
“His kind of music is deplorable, a rancid smelling aphrodisiac. It fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people.”- Frank Sinatra, 1956
Oddly enough, and unlike most parents of the day, MY Mom stood by him, saying “He’s a truck driver, a poor boy from the South. He respects his Momma, who taught him manners.” Those four things guaranteed my Mom’s respect. So, unlike many of my bobby sox wearing friends, I didn’t have to sneak to watch him on TV or to buy his records. Records? Yes, that’s what the music came on in those days of the 50s, recordings on 45 RPM discs, and later, the large albums on 33 and1/3 RPM vinyl, long before the days of 8-tracks, cassettes, and CDs. We had phonographs to play them and my room was filled with Elvis’ music most of the time. Even those of us who loved him had no idea that one day he’d be called “The King,” a title we feel he richly deserves.
Sinatra Is Won Over
Even Sinatra came to accept Elvis and realize his own career could benefit from a shot of Elvis’ charisma, and that took place on his show “Welcome Home Elvis,” back from the Army in 1960. In this video, Sinatra is singing Elvis’ song, “Love Me Tender,” and Elvis is singing Sinatra’s song, “Witchcraft.” Eventually after getting to know him, Sinatra and Elvis became friends. And why not? They only moved different parts of the body, and both were magnificent stars! Here’s the video:
Fast Forward A Couple Years
Shortly after I fell in love with Elvis, I began a scrapbook of everything I could lay my hands on about this phenomenal man. I greedily sought out every photo or scrap of information in any book or newspaper. Patiently trimmed them out, careful not to miss a single word of the text or a nuance of a photo. This went on for a couple years and the scrapbook was stuffed with Elvis pictures and news. I showed it to all my friends, and they were so envious. I was in heaven!
My Life Changes
Then in the fall of 1957, I met the man I would marry. He didn’t play guitar or sing, but he certainly was a handsome man. I fell in love with him for real, not a daydream. We were married on July 26, 1958. Soon I was expecting my first baby, and I put away my Elvis scrapbook, in hopes of getting back to it one day. Somehow, that never happened, and after two more children, I couldn’t find my scrapbook. One day after a prolonged search for it, I asked my husband if he’d seen it and he denied knowing anything about its whereabouts. Hmmmmmm?
The Scrapbook Was Gone
I never found it again and there were some really choice newspaper and magazine articles in it, along with all the dreamy photos I could lay my hands on. In my heart I always accused my husband of doing away with it. Today, I just hope someone who cared about Elvis got it, instead of it being trashed. I tell myself, maybe it was found by someone who appreciated all the time and effort that went into it, and who loved Elvis as much as I did.
Here’s the kicker
On my wedding night we went to see “Love Me Tender.”
Yes you read that right! On my wedding night, my husband and I went to see the first night’s showing in our town of “Love Me Tender,” my dream man’s first movie. Maybe that had something to do with the disappearance of my scrapbook? Anyway, Elvis wasn’t a recognized star at that time, so he was not given top billing, and was “introduced” below the names of stars Richard Egan and Debra Paget. It would be the only time in his life he would NOT receive top billing.
Husband Was NOT Impressed
My husband was not impressed with the movie or the man. He would tell the story in later years about how he had to “suffer” through the movie, and that the only thing that saved it for him was the beauteous Debra Paget. Funny, I hardly remember what she looked like! But my man Elvis was there, with his soft southern drawl, his country boy manner, and that face that I will always love. Some ten years and a few months later, my husband and I divorced. I still wonder where the scrapbook went and still believe he threw it away.
My Affair Of The Heart Remains
When I saw the news of Elvis’ death on TV in August of 1977, my legs got so weak I couldn’t stand. I sank down in front of the television and watched with disbelief as the news anchor told of his passing. I cried for days, feeling as if someone in my family had died. But my life had to go on, and though he was gone, he would forever remain in my heart. To this day, his songs still can bring me to tears, just knowing that there will be no more new songs from him.
Elvis’ Love Songs Are My Favorite
When Elvis sings a love song, you feel the emotion. Even today, when I watch a movie or video of him singing one of these meaningful songs, it grabs my heart and won’t let go. I can watch one of his DVDs and live in that trance for hours. It was as though he made love to every woman in the audience, with every song. Oh sure, “All Shook Up,” was fun, “Hound Dog” and “Just Wanna Be Your Teddy Bear” were cute, but give me one of his love songs and I can dream on it for days.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR