— Time Magazine
May 15, 1956
Other than looks, talent, fortune, global popularity, creativity, stage presence, pork chop sideburns, jeweled jump suits, a full head of hair, diamond rings, the largest scarf collection this side of Saudi Arabia, a business manager, a personal limousine, a private jet, girlfriends in every town, a Memphis palace, an entourage of body guards and a hankering for peanut butter and banana sandwiches, Elvis “The King” Presley and I had a lot in common.
OK, OK ... maybe I exaggerate.
Perhaps we shared only a burgeoning waistline and were both born to north Mississippi mamas and daddies, not too many miles apart. He was a Tupelo boy and I of Ripley origin — a pudgy and bald, crying little scoundrel who was whisked from the Tippah County Hospital to my parent’s gravel-road home in rural Falkner after the nursing staff tired of my dirty diapers and other unseemly infant mannerisms.
Early in my boyhood I became aware of Elvis and his Memphis-based fame.
I don’t believe he ever heard of me; at least, not that I was ever told. Besides, he was already swiveling his hips, jerking his knees violently without regard to permanent meniscus damage and cranking out devilish rock ’n’ roll hits a year before my birth.
By the time he was befuddling Ed Sullivan and drawing early criticism from Frank Sinatra for alleged on-stage obscenities, I was still crawling around in droopy cotton drawers, pulling the family dog’s tail and laughing while doing both.
Had we been born in a common year on a like date, it is reasonable to assume our path through life would have forked at about the time the doctor smacked our respective bottoms. And by the way doc, that hurt.
This is why I will not be performing at Conn Center on the night of Thursday, Sept. 15 — not due to a red and stinging derriere, but because of little need to pay homage to myself in song. Had I the opportunity, no one would be interested in seeing it. And definitely not hearing it.
It is, however, why Nashville-based artist Travis LeDoyt will be on stage at 7 p.m.
The miracle-voiced LeDoyt is billed as the “World’s Best Young Elvis.” Like the rest of the globe, Cleveland is familiar with him. This will be “Young Elvis’” second visit to our town. His first came about this time last summer when he performed on behalf of Junior Achievement of the Ocoee Region.
By popular demand, he’s coming back.
And again, his high-octane show will raise money for the local organization that teams with area school systems to round out our children’s educational experience through real-world concepts like work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. Over the years, JA has brought its brand of “Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Love” to classrooms of all age levels. Their group tutorials are relevant, needed and appreciated.
Chances are if your child knows how to balance a checkbook, thank JA.
Chances are if your child understands the concept of living within one’s means, thank JA.
Chances are if your child says he one day wants to run his own business, thank JA.
Chances are if your child takes a summer job to pay for his own clothes, thank JA.
Chances are if your child concerns himself with “need” instead of “want,” thank JA.
Chances are if your child asks about college costs, thank JA.
Chances are if your child values thrift over trend, thank JA.
Chances are if your child wants to start a savings account, thank JA.
Chances are if your child does his homework, thank JA.
Chances are if your child volunteers to help others without being asked, thank JA.
Rounding out a child’s educational experience is what Junior Achievement is all about. And that’s why “Young Elvis” is coming to town — to help Junior Achievement to help local kids.
It’s also why I am not performing. I wasn’t asked. Go figure. Junior Achievement obviously understands “The King and I” were born only miles apart ... but that’s where all further commonality came to a screeching halt.
I’m OK with it.
But I can’t speak for Elvis.
If you get the chance, check out Travis LeDoyt’s show — $20 for adults, $10 for students and $35 will get you reserved seating in the front section.
And for your additional $5 donation to JA, I’ll volunteer not to sing. Or dance.
You won’t find that kind of deal anywhere else.