I’m driving on the interstate with Elvis. I found him at a truck stop. The “Aloha Live From Hawaii Via Satellite” album was on a clearance CD rack for $8.95 plus tax and I figured what the heck. It is now playing on my truck radio.
Forty-seven years ago this record peaked at number one and has yet to be outdone in my opinion. This album has it all. It has energy. Heart. Soul. A blazing hot rhythm section.
They called it “the concert seen ‘round the world” because in 1973 around 1.5 billion people viewed Elvis’s televised performance worldwide, more than tuned in to see the moon landing.
And it’s evident why. There is something electric about the whole album. Hearing a 6,000-plus crowd cheer like lunatics inside the Honolulu International Center is spellbinding. And when the king’s “Taking Care of Business” band opens with “See See Rider,” the concert takes on the intensity of a veritable nuclear event.
I can visualize Elvis taking the stage, wearing his American Eagle jumpsuit, doing his semi-karate moves. I can see his 30-piece orchestra, the Sweet Inspirations backup singers, his silver screen smile, and his flowery lei.
No, they don’t have music like Elvis on the radio anymore.
Which is why I don’t listen to the radio. Today’s stations only play today’s “hits.” If you want oldies you need digital streaming services. Sadly, I have a non-digital truck radio that was manufactured back when today’s pop-stars were still filling their Pampers with fresh hits. So I’m obsolete.
Still, my old-fashioned radio is hanging in there. A few days ago I scanned local stations just to see what today’s music was like. I ended up learning a lot about modern society.
For starters, song melodies don’t matter anymore, neither do instruments, lyrics, or talent for that matter. They’d let you on the radio if you were playing an electric chainsaw.
Secondly, your average American radio show host is much younger and uses the kid version of English. Today, for instance, I heard youngish people on talk radio using the word “like” as a filler word.
As in, like, you know what I, like, mean?
I also have noticed lately that many young people, on the radio or otherwise, begin 99.7 percent of their sentences with the word “so,” and end many of their sentences with the word “right?”
“Soooo, like, right?”
Also, the new go-to punctuation for many persons under age 21 is the question mark. At least it sounds like it. Because everyone’s sentences end with a slightly higher pitch? Even if it’s a declarative statement? Such as the following example? The Liberty Bell was cast in 1751 and predates the Revolution?
The following is a real-life excerpt from talk radio wherein two actual news commentators were discussing actual global events:
“Soooo, like, this pandemic, right? I feel like it’s just sorta, like… I don’t know… Right?”
Without being too picky, I should also mention that young-speak has substituted many cherished English words for words that have no soul. No verve. No oomph.
Take the word love. Long ago we referred to romance as “love.” People “fell in love.” People were “lovers.” People experienced “love at first sight.”
Well, today it’s not called “love,” and we don’t call them “people,” either. Now they’re “individuals.” And love has been replaced with “a relationship.”
I don’t have a problem with either of these words, but they don’t lend any poetry to the language of passion. Imagine if classic song lyrics would have been written in today’s terminology.
“I’m in the mood for relationship, simply because you’re near me…”
“Stop! In the name of relationship, before you break my heart…”
“That’s the story of, that’s the glory of a relationship…”
“All you need is relationship…”
“Individuals… Individuals who need individuals… They’re the luckiest individuals in the world…”
“At laaaaaassst… My relationship has come along…”
“What the world needs now, is relationship, sweet relationship…”
“Relationship me tender, relationship me true, all my dreams fulfilled…”
“I’m just a hunk’a, hunk’a burning relationship…”
No, for my money you can’t beat the poetry of yesteryear. And you can’t beat Elvis. There will never again be anything like the Memphis Pelvis, or his American lyrics, or his band, which is blaring across 47 years right now, live from Hawaii to my truck. Say what you will about the man, but Elvis had something you don’t find anymore. Something genuine. Something real.
As soon as you hear his music you just can’t help but fall in relationship with it.
Christian Vowell - June 1, 2021 10:05 am
Like, you are so right; right?
Bar - June 1, 2021 10:55 am
Yep, my dear ol’ English teacher is, like, spinnin’ in her grave. How about the newest trend of beginning a sentence with ‘I mean’ .. ‘I mean, the weather today is … ‘I mean, non-existent language skills.’
trneeley - June 1, 2021 11:01 am
Yes, please….Aloha from Hawaii album is in my collection! The second the needle drops and those lovely (relationshiply) scratchy sounds begin I am 6 years old, sitting Indian-style in the living room floor, wanting to be as close to Elvis as humanly possible. Goosebumps…then and every time I play it now.
I thank God for your writing, Sean, and for your sharing it. You remind us we are not alone. You affirm that we all have stories and they matter. You have a great gift. You and your stories are treasures– your legacy.
God bless you!
joan moore - June 1, 2021 11:11 am
Thanks for Taking Care of Business!
Irene Torres - June 1, 2021 11:21 am
I love Elvis. S
Sending some lakeside aloha to you.
Karen Holderman - June 1, 2021 11:33 am
You are right on the mark.
william N Ledbetter - June 1, 2021 12:22 pm
I agree completely. Our music has changed, but it has not progressed. Give me the “oldies” every time. Thanks for reminding us of the “good times”.
Joe Bolton - June 1, 2021 12:25 pm
TV reporters starting every comment with “look”.
Lulu - June 1, 2021 12:49 pm
Sean, thank you! Even the names of the so called stars of today are crazy. Who ever heard such monikers? And the music is way out of being understood. One can sing the oldies along with the artists.
Virginia Russell - June 1, 2021 12:50 pm
Jan - June 1, 2021 12:52 pm
Oh so true! Elvis was real … he was human and his voice and eyes could tell a story straight from the heart!
Beryl - June 1, 2021 1:07 pm
Oy vey! And I’m not even Jewish. I was trying to convey my, like, frustration with the mutilation of the English language. Another phrase that is over used especially by the female gender is, “I’m sorry.” Why do we have to “pretend” apologize for BEING?! I tried to explain this to a teenager once and she replied with, you guessed it, “I’M SORRY”! Declaratively speaking, I have given up because, like, I’m sorry, and whatever?
Christina - June 1, 2021 1:42 pm
It’s like so sad, but you are so right?
Iris Hamlin - June 1, 2021 1:45 pm
I’ve been complaining for years about our nonexistent language skills. You said it just like I’m unable to say it but you’re the writer and I’m your devoted reader. Thank you, Sean. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you’re The Best!
Eddy - June 1, 2021 2:05 pm
I’m 62 and NEVER get tired of ELVIS ALOHA FROM HAWAII!! We watched it when it aired. Mama had it on eight track and it was like AWESOME!! RIGHT? We love Y’all Sean, Jamie, Dawgs, & Family!!
AlaRedClayGirl - June 1, 2021 2:16 pm
Like Bob Seger sang, “Today’s music ain’t got the same soul. I like that old time rock and roll.”
Ellouise - June 1, 2021 2:53 pm
Absolutely delightful! I HATE “like” as it’s being used today. It started with pre-teens, who’ve always had a hard time with speech. Nobody writes “like”, but now, as you stated, even professionals use it incorrectly. The very worst thing for me is to here an interview on the radio. Interviewer will ask a relatively bland question. Interviewee, supposedly an expert on the subject, will answer, “well, I mean, like…”. I’m pretty laidback, but this makes me want to scream and I seldom listen anymore. Our adult generation should have the intelligence, style, wit, and grace to influence the younger folks – not take on their vocabulary. Or lack of it. How can they learn from us if we insist on copying them?
PS. You are so right about Elvis. There are some terrific performers, even on the pop and new country stations. There will never be another Elvis. Or Prince. Or Michael.
Susan corbin - June 1, 2021 3:19 pm
Sooo, like, very funnily and wonderfully said, right. I still am in a relationship with The King.
Bobbie - June 1, 2021 3:28 pm
I love it!! Needed a laugh this morning. Like, brilliantly said? I remember that nite well. Our family ate supper early, had baths, got snacks, whatever, right? All to be ready to sit in front of our one tv when it started. Nothing like it before, or since, like, I really had a relationship with that man!! American Trilogy one my faves. Glory, hallelujah !!
I so agree that the English language has been revamped to ‘whatever’ right? Like, I don’t like it!!
Thank you Sean for your unique style , wit and wisdom far beyond your years. Like, I relationship it, right? 😍
Paul Moore - June 1, 2021 3:49 pm
So. You like nailed it Sean. I dis relationship young speak. Like we’re moving like backwards as a society ?
Paul Moore - June 1, 2021 4:04 pm
Oh I forgot. Now anytime there taking information or something they use the words perfect and awesome. Perfect Awesome. And don’t forget you can’t answer with one yeah. It’s yeah yeah yeah. This stuff drives me crazy. Maybe it will stop one day. Maybe not Rap has been popular for over 30 years now. My generation only wore bell bottoms about 12 years. And about that time we stopped saying man and far out. Soooo like maybe this will like end one day ?
Linda Moon - June 1, 2021 4:09 pm
CDs were always playing from my vehicle’s CD player for my long road trips. Their sounds made the miles pass easier. But…the sound of high-pitched endings to DECLARATIVE sentences drives this former English teacher nuts. Yes, Nutz. Thoughts of Elvis make me feel better….he was one of a kind. Hal David said it well, way back in 1965, about what the world needed then and NOW.
Lisa Wilcox - June 1, 2021 4:32 pm
Right? I, like, totes agree!
Another great one, Sean. Thanks!
Thomas and Sandra Hines - June 1, 2021 5:11 pm
How true this is! Enjoy your columns. A good friend has sent them to us for quite some time…..Kathy Lawrence.
Steve McCaleb - June 1, 2021 5:29 pm
Sean, I share your musical disillusionment. Between this mindless garbage they call today’s country (?) music and this technofluffarama pop crap that’s being spewed out daily…..I’ve about had it. I’d rather listen to a lovesick coyote howl at the moon. Music has been been on a downhill slide since the day Duane smacked that truckload of peaches. Okay, okay…you young whippersnappers google Allman, Duane. Learn something. Churchill said it best, “ It’s a shame youth is wasted on the young”. I think I speak on behalf of old farts everywhere. Maybe…I think
Harriet - June 1, 2021 5:34 pm
Ending every sentence with a question mark high pitch is incredibly annoying! So is “circle back”
B.E. Blue - June 1, 2021 5:40 pm
Numerous LOLs about the “rising pitch”, “??” and “relationship”. Thanks for the laughs, like, right? It’s all good.
Steve Winfield (Lifer) - June 1, 2021 6:01 pm
I’ve seen hundreds of concerts but never Elvis. My late mom only saw one her whole life. You guessed it. Elvis.
If I’d only seen one he would be right up there. He was the “King”.
Tawanah Fagan Bagwell - June 1, 2021 6:05 pm
There really is no one like Elvis even though he has millions of imitators.
Patricia Gibson - June 1, 2021 7:02 pm
You are so right, Sean! It is so sad we didn’t get to experience an older Elvis. I have loved him from the start, but I listen to his channel on SiriusXM Radio and at 72, I appreciate his talent even more. There are a lot of good performers out there and I like them, but Elvis could truly capture an audience and he really could hit the notes! He still reaches my soul and I am so grateful for his life and his music! In my book, he will always be the king!❤️❤️❤️
PS - June 1, 2021 7:26 pm
Hey Sean, thanks for stating so many similar thoughts inside my head. Well done, fun, and ….So—like—idk- perfect, right?
Ingrid B Whigham - June 1, 2021 10:47 pm
I’m lots older than you, but here’s a big AMEN!
MAM - June 2, 2021 12:09 am
I must admit, I was, like, NEVER an Elvis fan. But nowadays he, like, sounds a whole heckuva lot better than what’s on the radio these days, right?! Sorry, I detest it all, too, but it was too much fun to make fun of today’s talk speak.
Ed Buckley - June 2, 2021 12:30 am
Lee Ann Williams - June 2, 2021 12:37 am
Elvis continues to melt my heart. I miss the English language I grew up with. Words and music create beautiful memories. Play me a song from my day. I can tell you everything about the moment I first heard it. Thank you Sean. I am happy that words are important to you!
Norma Den - June 2, 2021 7:18 am
Bravo Sean for telling it like it is, modern language appalling & like, right, awesome, so & many more make me cringe. I had a very strict English teacher in high school way back in what was Northern Rhodesia, she must be doing cartwheels in heaven. Don’t start me on the high pitched voices in, sadly the girls mostly on every USA station or program we get in Africa, & the sentences ending with a question mark!!! Has anyone ever researched what Awesome really means? Elvis was & always will rate far above anyone who came after him. I hope to meet him singing me into the pearly gates one day.
Dan Wise - June 2, 2021 12:05 pm
My most treasured memories of Elvis go well beyond his God gifted voice for singing and music…This Memorial Day weekend highlighted his service and devotion to our Country. The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Biloxi has a memorial section complete with various uniforms and memorabilia from his service time while on the Mississippi Coast.
Shirley - June 2, 2021 4:03 pm
I totally agree!!!
Lynda Gayle Knight - June 2, 2021 4:41 pm
Agree and Amen to everything you said Saw him in both his Huntsville concerts! Never will I forget the excitement I felt in my relationship for Elvis. Never seen so many individuals enjoying those epic songs! He’ll always be my No.1 favorite ❣️
Paul W. Chappell - June 2, 2021 7:53 pm
My Mama and her friend, Inez Daniel, went to see Elvis in Hawaii in ’73. I know now it was the most lavish thing she ever allowed herself to do.
Chasity Davis Ritter - June 5, 2021 2:17 am
I didn’t manage to read this one on June 1st when you posted it but I still shared it today. June 1st was my moms best friend and cousin in laws first birthday in heaven. She was a major Elvis fan. They even played his music at her service. I had told her daughter and sister that day that I pictured Elvis singing happy birthday to her up there. Funny Sean… he was singing to you down here!! Thanks for this smile. I could go on and on and in about Elvis…. but I’ll save it for another day. I know you’ll mention him again…like, how could you not right??
Sheri K - June 5, 2021 2:33 am
SiriusXM Elvis station is my life line! I’m one of those crazy people who has each Elvis album also on CD. American Trilogy sets me crying every time but his best music is his religious recordings – especially Amazing Grace!! I could go on for hours, but I’ll spare you. Thank you Sean for always starting my day on a positive note. I love you!!