Saturday, June 23 , 2018, 1:43 pm | Overcast with Haze 67º

 
 
 
 

Danny Tyree: How Far Have We Come in the 40 Years Since Elvis Presley Died?

When I think about the 40th anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley (Aug. 16), it seems we were living in a completely different world in 1977.

News of his passing was relayed by television, radio, word of mouth or the next morning’s newspaper. Tweets, blogs and podcasts were far in the future. Grief over his demise was expressed with hugs, tears and wreaths, not emojis.

Later in the year, when one of my high school classmates (hi, Tavye!) protested the sparsity of coverage of the plane crash that killed three members of the Lynyrd Skynyrd band compared to the hoopla over Elvis, she had to do it via a snail mail Letter To The Editor designed for publication in a paper-and-ink periodical.

Distraught fans would talk about “that movie Elvis did with what’s-her-name,” since (in that pre-Wikipedia world) they didn’t have his biography and discography at their fingertips.

One of my customers at the convenience market where I worked after school implored me to save him a copy of the next Photoplay magazine, because he heard they were going to do an Elvis tribute, and this might be the last chance he would ever have to own a memento of “The King”!!!

Elvis fans resigned themselves to a future of scouring second-hand stores for vinyl records and bugging local DJs to play the occasional Elvis oldie. Little did they know that eBay, Craigslist, YouTube, Amazon, satellite radio and streaming services would eventually make Elvis more available than ever.

We knew our troops in Vietnam had listened to rock music, but who would have thought our soldiers would someday be listening to Elvis in Iraq and Afghanistan?

My parents’ generation clucked their tongues over how the infamous “Dr. Nick” (Dr. George Nichopoulos) could keep a nice boy like Elvis hooked on prescription drugs. Of course, the opioid crisis of 2017 dwarfs any excesses by 1970s rock stars.

Only a prophetic futurist would have thought that “apps” could someday perform most of the functions handled by Elvis’ “Memphis Mafia” entourage.

Elvis died at a time when there was no MTV or rap music, dramatic TV shows didn't use hit songs in their soundtracks and the Super Bowl didn’t court pop stars to perform at halftime.

We would have laughed if someone had suggested that Disney would use an Elvis song in an animated movie. (But along came “Burning Love” in Lilo & Stitch.)

Elvis (who was filmed from the waist up on The Ed Sullivan Show and whose bordello scene was censored from his 1968 comeback special) died as standards were loosening, but few of us anticipated the language, substance abuse and sexual situations on network primetime TV in 2017.

We might have suspected that Graceland would become a tourist shrine, but we had no idea we would someday get there guided by “GPS” and driving electric cars or cars fueled by gasoline from “​fracking.” Take pictures with something other than Kodachrome? And what’s a “​selfie”?

Yes, it’s a different world. But some of our most basic needs remain. We still need a MIXTURE of songs about love, heartbreak, fun, reverence and patriotism.

I hope that the works of Elvis will remain available for many generations — and that other artists will try their best to stir all the emotions that Elvis stirred.

If they do, I’ll say, “Thank you. Thankyouverymuch.”

— Satirical columnist Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page Tyree’s Tyrades. He is syndicated by Cagle Cartoons. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >