“And I can’t stop loving you
I said, “I made up, made up my mind”
To live in memory
Of such an long lonesome time
I can’t stop wanting you
I said, “It’s useless to say”
So I’ll just live my life
In dreams of yesterday.”
Last Friday evening I revisited a very eerily similar Friday evening 43 years, 3 months, and 14 days prior.
It was a typical hot and humid Texas night that long ago Friday, August 19, 1977. A teenage girl sat alone in a darkened theater in a somewhat seedy part of town, unending silent tears her only companion. She felt an unexplainable sorrow and heartbreak, and nothing could be done to ease it. No one that she knew could possibly understand the depths of her grief.
Three days prior, his heart had stopped and she had felt her own now fractured heart crushed. It was even more so as reality bypassed shock. How was it possible he was truly gone? She had just seen him the year before and had plans to see him again later that month.
Obviously that sad girl was me, broken over the loss of a man I knew and loved, but had never met. I felt helpless and lost and there was nothing I could do, no one I could turn to. I had seen there was a showing of “Elvis: That’s the Way It Is” and I decided attending it was my only means to outwardly display my inward devotion. It was my way to pay my respects, as the images of the long line of white limousines replayed over and over in my mind.
“Elvis: That’s the Way it Is” opened in theaters November 11, 1970. Somehow I had missed it although to be fair, I was 11 at the time and unless I heard about it on the radio or someone mentioned it to me, it wouldn’t have been on my radar. Besides, I had experienced the real life man 9 months earlier at the Rodeo. So I had never seen TTWII until that night.
Since then, I’ve seen bits and pieces through the years, video and you-tube, VHS and DVD but to sit and watch the entirety in a movie house was something I had only done once – until last week.
This time I wasn’t grieving, it wasn’t summer, and I wasn’t all by myself. The Denis Sanders documentary of the Presley Las Vegas Summer Festival during August 1970 – on the big sliver screen again – was now a joyous celebration, a full circle from sorrow to jubilation, and a realization that love doesn’t die.
This man who has been gone longer than he lived still excites and thrills. Once more, as I watched and listened, a familiar thought came to mind, one I’ve had over and over in my lifetime … how can anyone not love him?
I found myself smiling when he smiled, singing along with his familiar voice, laughing at the same corny jokes I’ve heard a hundred times, and again, in total awe of his showmanship, persona, and bigger than life appeal.
This showing was much more of a concert experience. From behind the scenes nervousness, leading up to the excitement of feeling I was in that showroom, especially as Elvis purposefully meandered through the crowd, it was a celebration of the man and his music, his humanity and his legacy.
I admit I viewed it with a touch of wistfulness and some sadness at times, a few teary remembrances, knowing it was a magical experience never to exist again. But I also realize how fortunate we are to re-live it and how fabulous that he was captured so well on film.
That’s the way it is, the way it was and no doubt, forever will be. Truly.