In the busy entertainment district of Nashville, you see them. Large caricatures of Elvis Presley in front of storefronts, just waiting for a boozy tourist to stop and snap a photo and post it on their Facebook page. The microphone that he apparently was singing into is gone, but Elvis is still there, chained down around his waist so he can’t be taken away.
We’ve had controversies about young Elvis and old Elvis. Rebel Elvis and Las Vegas Elvis. Thin, leather-clad Elvis and fat, jumpsuit-wearing and karate-chopping Elvis.
This, I think, is a picture of sad Elvis.
I’ve never been a huge Elvis Presley fan, but anyone who loves rock ‘n roll has got to tip their hat to The King. There’s no doubt the Elvis Presley changed the world and revolutionized America when he started to sing blues music and swing those hips. He inspired the Beatles and lots of other acts and left an enormous imprint on American music and culture. His death was pathetic, but there is no denying his vast and enduring influence.
Now, on the streets of Nashville, the King is reduced to a fiberglass photo opportunity, like Ronald McDonald or a T-Rex or Paul Bunyon. It’s disturbing, and it’s wrong. There’s something forlorn and almost despairing about it that a few brightly colored balloons tied to his wrist won’t hide.