Vivien and Elvis

Shotgun house in Tupelo, Mississippi; birthpla...

Shotgun house in Tupelo, Mississippi; birthplace of Elvis Presley. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


    Have you ever felt like a fool?  The image I came up with is the court jester: colorful hat full of bells. If every fool wore the bell hat, it is the only music we would hear. Mine would be the loudest of all. Things have just been out of kilter lately. I know you out there have had those days. For me it has been weeks, and the hat still fits me just right until…

   At nine forty-five or so last night, everything was done for the day, and since everyone was busy I stole away to my piano. All my life, I have been infused with gospel music, and this is what I love to play. My neurons can do nothing else.  For some unknown reason, though, “You ain’t nothing but a hound dog crying all the time,” kept singing in my ears. My ever twirling blond mind was working over time. I could visualize Elvis with his microphone, the early years, and belting out the hound dog blues. So, I started to play. I apologize to Elvis because it ended up having a slow gospel feel that was colored by a “Bridge over troubled water” feel.   Before long, I was playing the tune, “This little light of mine,” and I remembered such pure happiness. Such as when being late for Sunday School was the biggest problem in life. I don’t think the neighbors, if we had any close by, would think of the word happiness. I was so scrambled from the fierce horrible combination of genres that I couldn’t visualize Elvis anymore, and ended up on a saxophone driven blues side of, “…and I’m going to let it shine.” For some eternally strange reason I am stuck on, “…little light of mine,” and all of the improvisations that work through my fingers.  I ended up laughing which is just what I needed! So long to my visualization abilities I spoke of in another post.  I think the fool’s hat fell off somewhere in between the hound dog and little light.   I stopped the music when my Dad was gone; he wouldn’t have approved. Let the music roll on.

    With my sweet Dad being such a wonderful force in my life, I can’t complain about my childhood. The only thing I would change is the ability to take piano lessons early, and from someone who actually knew what they were doing.  Since, I have mostly been my own teacher all the sound blame is mine. But the piano is an escape. It takes you to another world, and everything else falls away.  Perhaps I can explain with my helpless use of the English language lately, I will try.  It is a world that lets you feel life deeply, and then it is a world that helps you let things go. It is Brando standing on the stoop calling passionately to Stella.  It is Rocky running up and down the steps, and counting them as a measure to his dream.  It is that moment in Lord of the Rings when the king is crowned, his true love steps through the crowd, and peace finally rules the earth.  And it is the tragedy of a broken family in Warrior as evidenced by the scene of a relapsed drunken father leaning on an unforgiving son…who does forgive. It is joy, faith, love, sorrow, life turned upside down and inside out expressed with a musical scale.  That can’t happen on a keyboard you say?  But that is how it feels to feel the music, and love it back. The music takes over, and you, the true instrument, are just not important at all. The music plays you; maybe you know what I mean. Perhaps, you could tell me what it means to you!

    Now, all of this talk of music leads me to Vivien. She lived next door. Here in Boondockville that can mean 20 acres away.  She was born in Po-dunk-ville then moved to her metropolitan dream, worked at a job where she met, and socialized with influential people. In her seventies, she was still attractive, tall, had gorgeous blue eyes and a shock of red hair that couldn’t be missed.  I could just imagine her at 25.  Talking was her life. She was smart, energetic, and her attitude was vivacious.  She and my Dad would happily argue over God and life. They both felt victorious!  She knew so many famous people that I got a tad suspicious. Especially when she told me that she wanted her cremated body buried in a mayonnaise jar. I am not betraying a confidence, believe me, Vivien would tell you more, and then some, without a doubt. But years later, she showed me “evidence” that someone was working on a book, and wanted her help via facts and photos. It was true! Really it wasn’t too unbelievable knowing her fiery talk-to-me personality, and beauty days.  I didn’t really care who she knew! I liked her just as Vivien.  Later, she unraveled more of her life. Her husband was killed driving down the highway almost home from a guitar gig, and almost to the Thanksgiving meal she was preparing with his Mom. She talked about what a wonderful musician he was, and his songs. They were too young for such nonsensical tragedy. All tragedy is nonsense.

A photograph promoting the film Jailhouse Rock...

A photograph promoting the film Jailhouse Rock depicts singer Elvis Presley. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

   Yes, her husband played guitar as back up to Elvis before the world fell in love with the mania of Elvis. She said she griped Elvis out once yelling that he  better not be late again. He was late for a show. She said that he was just as sweet as could be calling her “maam”, and telling her that he and the boys just stopped for burgers. When she was telling me the story her hands were waving; she was still mad about it. I can see her telling him off!  This is the same woman who was told by the ambulance driver that she couldn’t get in the back of the ambulance. Vivien’s mother had a brain tumor, and needed to be driven three hours away for surgery.  Vivien pushed the door open wider, and stayed. He had no choice!  I miss Vivien! I gave her a painting when she left. She said this town wasn’t big enough for her. I agreed!

    I hope you aren’t asleep by now. The mayo jar concept should have kept you awake….maybe!!  Thanks for reading fellow bloggers. What are words if there is no one to read them?


16 thoughts on “Vivien and Elvis

  1. Never worry about an audience…you write, and they will come! I loved hearing about Vivian. What an interestingly sad life, yet rich with experiences. We can learn something about resiliency reading about her life, don’t you think? I love to play the piano, too, Terri…it is another form of therapy! I’ll be humming “This Little Light of Mine” tomorrow…I learned that song as a small child and still love to sing it to my granddaughters. I loved your post! Debra

  2. boy it it surely wonderful that you get to pound out the songs on your piano. I love ‘this little light of mine’, too~ how fun to play it….I hope you will share more memories of your dear Vivian; and I always love to hear stories of your dad. Write about all of them and your music whenever you wish. i am betting your other followers (don’t you love the sound of that) will love hearing about all of that as much as you will love sharing it. Have a wonderful post, and thanks for another wonderful post.

  3. Thank you Kate, getting to play the piano is a great blessing. I am very thankful! Stories about my Dad..I love to tell. Will do! Have a great weekend.

  4. Thanks Debra, I’m glad to hear from another person who enjoys playing little light of mine. Vivien was amazing! She survived breast cancer, and she was only concerned with telling me how she won, and not the sad details. Appreciated your words!

  5. At least 2 ideas get me hooked to your post…(I suppose that could be interpreted in English…)
    first, you said: ”the piano is an escape” and made me think – again! – at Graham Greene’s words in his autobiography (called exactly Ways of Escape!): “Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in human situation.” I suppose playing the piano and writing both qualify as do painting…I love citing Greene every time I have the chance since it is there one idea that is etched (?) in my brain forever…The second idea was in the commentaries,”Never worry about an audience” (Three Well Beings) which idea is also eminently true: for writing, for painting, for any creation work… You do it because you have to do it and never mind the audience, the selling (or not), the fame and all other extra-motives, so important for 90-95 % (more or less) of the people…

  6. I agree with everything you said…. so true! It isn’t about getting something from outside yourself, but giving out in a creative what you must because it is what you are…just like breathing. Thank you so miuch for your response. I’ll read more of your words later.

  7. You can still take lessons! I want to, but need the piano first. :) My mom played beautifully and started at age 6. She could play anything. She tried to teach me, but I didn’t wanna play “Mary had a little lamb”, I wanted to play Mozart, Beethoven and the Boogie Woogie like she did. :) What a beautiful post.

  8. I will have to give Elisa a thank you! I am glad you got something from the story! I hope I don’t prove Elisa WRONG…YIKES!!!! Thank you so much for stopping by!


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