MEMPHIS, TN. Elvis Week has come to a close. I couldn’t be in Memphis this year to participate in the week long memorial to Elvis, but I was able to participate through the various online media of YouTube, Ustream, LiveStream and Elvis.com. In addition, I want to thank King of the World, Images of the King, ElvisFests.com and especially all the fans, ETAs and their families for posting pictures, and comments on Facebook and Pompadour to keep us all updated on the events. I also want to recognize Moira Stephens, Rhonda Johnson, and Stephanie Ely for all of their enthusiastic pictures, videos, and posts which tickered daily through my Facebook news feed.
Watching the events unfold through the online media I witnessed the observable Elvis Phenomenon. There is not one entertainer who comes to mind for which an entire week is dedicated to them on such a large scale. It’s tantamount to the religious fervors reserved for Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Islam, and Judiasm. In fact, type in “Elvis Phenomenon” in an online search engine and several, published, academic studies populate the results. They are fascinating to read. Yet, the authors for each paper are themselves unable to conclusively arrive at a definitive explanation for the phenomenon.
We all have our own intrinsic reasons for our admiration of Elvis Presley. An admiration often misunderstood by an outside world looking in on this world of ETAs, Elvis fans, and Graceland. Amongst ourselves there is no explanation required for our common bond, but to explain it to the outside observer is often a futile effort. It’s best just to invite the observer to an ETA show, maybe several shows, to see and hear different ETAs, since all ETAs have their own unique methods for keeping the memory of Elvis alive. We, Elvis fans, get it. It’s an Elvis thing, but we want all to understand.
There was so much going on at once during Elvis Week it was nearly impossible to follow everything; therefore, I simply wrote about the most moving event for me. Visit the blog by entertainment journalist and official blogger for EPE, Jon Waterhouse, and read his articles for more detailed highlights. Also, visit Elvis.com.
It was the Candlelight Vigil which drew from me unexpected emotions as it was broadcasted live over the internet. The moment came when the emcee instructed the thousands to light their candles and hold them up. With the simple raising of a thousand lighted candles the Elvis Phenomenon struck me and I was moved. I looked over to my wife and she was in tears, too, and I wrote a brief description of the moment.
Candlelight Vigil: Just Pretend
It’s true. Elvis never died. He lives on in the heart and memory of every fan and through the performances of every ETA. Thousands of people of all ages and ethnicity trekked across the world to pay tribute by the only means they could: a single, burning candle. The people lit their candles in methodical unison and held each one up high for the world to see. Thousands of flames flickered in the unusually cool August night as the theme was announced: Just Pretend.
Every age group was represented from young to old; united in their admiration for Elvis. It’s a bittersweet reunion as they walk in silence through the Meditation Garden and stand before his grave. There the people pause in thought, snap a picture, perhaps wonder about the what ifs, but all certainly reminisce about the man buried beneath the marble stone. It is a private moment of meditation. The flicker of the eternal flame lights up a woman’s face and reflects the shimmer of tears upon her cheek. She misses Elvis. We all miss Elvis. I miss Elvis.
The words from Just Pretend piped through the speakers to remind us all about the only way we now experience Elvis.
Just pretend, I’m holding you
And whispering things soft and low
And think of me, how it’s gonna be,
Just pretend I didn’t go
When I walked away, I heard you say
If you need me, you know what to do
I knew it then, I’d be back again
Just pretend I’m right there with you
The lyrics tell a story of man and woman in a lover’s quarrel and their making up, yet, some of the words appropriately express the desire of fans singing along. Elvis is gone and we are only left with photos, movies, Graceland, memories, his music, and the thousands of ETAs to ignite our imaginations and pretend he is right there with us. Right there on stage strumming his guitar and singing into his microphone with that beautiful voice.