if i can dream;
please let my dream come true – right now
• • •
As some of you may know, this past May, I went to Graceland to meet up with my girlfriend and her family because her and her mother had dreams of traveling to see how well-preserved Elvis’ legacy has been at the historic site. I myself had never been much of an Elvis fan, but after my visit to Graceland, I now hold a new appreciation for Elvis’ music, his life, and the legacy he has left behind.
This week will park the 40th anniversary of his death, and in a memorial tribute of sorts, there was a US concert tour – organized (mainly) by Priscilla Presley – of Elvis’ music set to a live orchestra. The Elvis: Live in Concert tour is new to the states this year but there have already been tours in Europe and Australia over the past year. For my own concert experience, I travelled to Philadelphia to hear Elvis’ music with my aunt. A part of me truthfully had no idea what to expect – this wasn’t any typical concert, and there was no live main act. Of course, there were members of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and three backing vocalists who were live on stage, but of course, Elvis himself was not.
So now on to the concert experience itself…
As we arrived, as one would expect, the majority of the concert goers were much older than myself – ones who had grown up listening to Elvis, possibly attending a concert or two of his, and of course, having to live through his death. When we arrived as well, it was also raining pretty heavily, enough that we wondered if the weather would keep away anyone, but I had been wise enough to purchase covered seats – just in case. Luckily, the rain let up after a few minutes, and I ventured back out to the merch table – where I bought a matte concert program and a tour t-shirt.
When the concert began, I really had no idea what to expect of being there myself. The orchestra opened with an instrumental of If I Can Dream while the last of the concertgoers made their way to their seats while two of the side screens flashed the words of the song along with the orchestra. After this instrumental, the center screen lit up with video – and it would remain this way throughout the majority of the performance. I won’t bore you with all the details of each song, but instead, I’ll make note of a few poignant moments throughout the concert.
- For three songs; Don’t, It’s Now or Never and Can’t Help Falling in Love there was no video footage of Elvis’ singing, instead it was only his voice. The goal of this was to focus on his range and vocal strength without having the distraction of video. (And as an added bonus, a couple started slow dancing during the last of the three songs, which many of us noted.)
- After the intermission, there was a short video of Priscilla Presley introducing herself, along with talking about how much Elvis had dreamed of recording his songs with a live orchestra. While she spoke, the orchestra warmed up for the second act, and she continued to share fond memories of her relationship with Elvis through short clips of home movies. She and Elvis may have divorced, but it is still very evident in her voice how deeply she cares for him and strives to keep his memory alive.
- As with the ’68 Comeback Special, the concert closed to an encore of If I Can Dream – complete with glittering lights and rainbow lighting effects, which left me almost speechless at the outdoor lighting came on.
While walking out of the area and back to the car, I was surprised to see even more younger kids – ones who had clearly come with their families, and I felt honored that in my case, it was the reverse. I had been the one to bring my aunt to an Elvis concert, to introduce her to an artist who she had barely listened to, and now, holds a new appreciation for his music.
While Elvis may have passed almost 40 years ago, there was no sadness or feeling of emptiness by the time the show ended. I wasn’t alive when Elvis was alive and touring, but having seen both video recordings and full live concerts of his shows, I can contest that this concert was no different than one when he was still alive.
It’s true what they say – legends never really die. His music, style and persona are one of a kind and the other night, it shows just how evident it is that Elvis’ memory – and his music – will always live on.
• • •
• the wonder of you •