I remember the night vividly in August of 1977 when Elvis Presley passed away!!
I was a girl of the mere age of 9. We were at a place known as an old Southern Campground. For those of you not familiar, this is a place where a bunch of crazy southern people live in what is basically a shack with wood shaving floors for 10 days in the sweltering hot part of summer with no air conditioning, but- full kitchens, bedrooms and showers and church 3 times a day (yes I did say 3 times a day-it’s the bible buckle) If you have never been to one of these events you might believe that only one crazy family would venture to do this insanity every year and you might be right in the beginning- because it does have a family name, but to your surprise after 150 years of the event there are now over 100 different families who live in crazy proximity to each other in shacks in the misery of the southern summer heat with no air conditioning. I would continue, but this insanity really deserves it’s on time at a later date…………..
Back to the day Elvis died…. I had just turned the tender age of 9. I was at the crazy campground surrounded by many different people of all ages as we returned from evening service (Church for those not familiar with southern slang) and the radios announced Elvis Presley’s passing. Many of the women in their 40’s and 50’s began to cry. I remember becoming completely confused. These were women I had known for all my young life. I had seen them become the complete Rock of Gibraltars when family members passed and handle everything like a prize fighter (for those of you that don’t know many southern women – we handle what needs to be done and typically cry in private- Scarlett O’Hara wasn’t far off)
These strong women, who I had always seen as rocks, suddenly sat on the porches of their shacks together crying. These women who I had witness handle spouses and parents deaths, look at single motherhood in the 70’s without a second thought and conquer became weeping children because a celebrity whom they didn’t even know had passed away.
This was very confusing to a 9 year. I knew Elvis, my dad had a friend who loved Elvis- he even had the sideburns and looked like him and only played his music when we were at their house. I was aware he sang music, which to me, was tame and kinda dated. I knew he made movies- I had even seen a few and thought they were cheesy. Nothing I knew of Elvis helped me comprehend these women and their grief. I remember being a child baffled.
Well today was MY turn and I am no longer baffled!! Prince passed away today! Prince was the music of my formative youth. Prince was the music that had racy lyrics and themes we hid from our parents. He and Madonna (she’s still here) were our generations rebellion. I can’t be the only person that still remembers singing “Party Like It’s 1999” and thinking how far away that was and now it’s 17 years in the rear view….. He might of been the first to say masturbate on an album, but I doubt it- just the first one we heard. (Thank goodness for Darling Nikki) The Purple Rain album was the one we hid and took to camps and played after the chaperons went to bed. Prince was the soundtrack of my generation. When my brain still wants to be 15 regardless of my body and it’s aches the Prince and Madonna soundtracks still play.
What I realized today was those women, who were my age now, I saw crying in the 70’s were children of the 50’s when Elvis was racy. He was the music they hid from their parents when they were teenagers. He was the music they danced too when no one was watching and sang loudly when no one was listening and everything was ahead of you and anything was possible. Elvis was a person they did not know. They were not crying for the death of Elvis the man. They were grieving for the realization of their youth being gone. They grieved for the innocence and immaturity of youth. They grieved for the brutal realization of adulthood which had always been there, but as long as that ICON was there could somehow be recaptured. The death somehow made it permanent.
Getting old has it’s advantages (age and treachery over youth and enthusiasm an all), but damn some days the knees hurt!
Every generation has a “Day the Music Died” which actually should be translated to “The Day My Youth Died” because that is how we actually react and grieve. One generation had the day Buddy Holly and others passed in a plane crash, the next generation had Elvis passing and based on my 40 and 50 year old friends reactions today ours is Prince’s death.
To all of my friends floating with me in the same boat of middle age grieving our youth and all of those possibilities that we feel passed with Prince today just remember- “We are gathered here today to get through this thing called Life” so the next time you see a Purple Rain just dance and embarrass the kids- it’s all we got so might as well enjoy after you had your cry!!!
Oh- and don’t forget to keep on partying like it’s 1999- it’ll confuse the young folk until they’re at least 45 when it’ll be there turn too!!!! 🙂
There is a very important thing I have yet to warn you about. When it comes to this personality issue, I definitely should have a big giant red warning label. I am a sports nut- more importantly a football NUT. Most women (except most of my friends) love shopping, jewelry, dinner dates, romantic comedies and shoes. I LOVE FOOTBALL!! Not only do I love football- I am that even more annoying woman who actually understands football. I don’t speak fluent or even understand shopping, but football I’m all good. I love all types of football from youth, high school, college and NFL. Well- except for flag- that’s not football that’s just track with a ball. If you can put a helmet and pads on em- I’m all in!!
Football has taken a really bad rap in the media lately. The media is jumping on the anti-football bandwagon with coaches that actually tell children the non-sugar coated truth, concussions overload, and dying on the fields. If you just watched the news – all football players are going to drop dead or get dementia at any moment. If they don’t die they will have low self esteem because someone raised their voice at them. I understand the need to protect our children, but how far are we gonna go in our bubble wrap em world? Now before all of you over-protective, love gushing, my child can do no wrong, I’ll protect them from everything parents out there go on a tirade- let me explain something. I am a football mom and I have been for 10 years now. Trust me- I have sat through and attended more practices and games than most people ever will in their lives. I have had boob sweat and frozen eyelashes in one season- all for the love of my boys and the game. Guess what- my two parasites that play can still speak without a slur and neither has dropped dead yet. They are still alive even with their big ole ego’s that make me want to kill them myself some days.
My children were only given two rules before they started out on their football journey
1) There is NO crying in football
2) You will play where the coach needs you and play it to the best of your ability- period
My favorite of all time is bobble head football. I would have another child, if I could guarantee it was a boy and could give it away at 7 or 8, just to see bobble head football again. If you have ever experienced 5 and 6 year old football you understand. Their helmets are as big as they are and after every play it’s just a big ole pile of helmets and shoulder pads. This pile, or even just one who fell down, requires many grown men to run around the field picking children up. They are not picking them up because they got hurt- they can’t get up because their heads now weigh more than their little bodies. There are very few injuries in bobble head football- they do not hit hard enough. Most crying in bobble head football comes from- it’s hot, it’s cold, I fell down- not hitting. They are like herding cats. My youngest spent most of his kindergarten year leaned over with his head on the grass spinning on his helmet- cuz he thought it was fun.
As they grow the lessons and hitting gets proportionality harder- just like in life. The coaches get meaner and louder- just like in life. The effort they put in is directly proportionate to what they get out- just like in life. Everyone is not the superstar, but everyone has their part to play- just like in life.
So… Hey media- go harass Soccer, Lacrosse, Baseball, Gymnastics and Cheerleading, for their injuries a while. Those of us football fans will be just fine because we’ll still live by the best coaches line ever- There’s no crying in football!!!