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.