News from the Tennessee Valley Religion

Melanie B. Smith

Confessions of a girl who didn't worship Elvis

By Melanie B. Smith
DAILY Religion Writer 340-2468

I'm all shook up.

It never occurred to me that my friend might have been involved in some alternative religion, or that she was trying to draw me in.

As I knelt beside her to watch Elvis 45s spin 'round and 'round on her portable record player, was I unwittingly joining her in a ritual?

Was the rapture I saw in her face worship of a deity?

Did I somehow edge her toward a deeper faith in Elvis by my presence in her sanctum?

Am I to repent of something now, decades later? Should she recant?

I always thought my 9-year-old friend's infatuation with Elvis was just a rite of passage, not a real rite. I saw her adoration of him fanciful fan behavior.

Am I now to believe that it was religious fanaticism?

I don't know, but I do confess that I did not share her love of Elvis.

It wasn't because I rejected the whole rock 'n' roll doctrine; I just didn't get it. After all, The Beatles hadn't yet appeared to say they were more popular than Jesus. "Stairway to Heaven," not yet on the airwaves, would only have made me think of the steep steps at the front of my church.

I can't recall my pastor at that time ranting against Elvis or any other musician. I don't remember any drive in my little town to cast rock 'n' roll records into a lake of fire.

Or maybe I was too interested at the time in Nancy Drew mysteries and "Perry Mason" episodes to notice.

So if I pushed my friend deeper into a heresy by my passive response, I am sorry. I was only 10 or so.

Our visions didn't focus

I do remember feeling confused that I didn't share her vision of Elvis. I don't know if she failed to expound it properly to me or if I couldn't hear it for "Hound Dog" blasting as loud as the little speakers could go.

I must have shown rejection when she introduced me to her passion, because I don't remember her playing Elvis records for me again.

By the time, years later, that I had a sort of epiphany of my own and turned into a follower of a long-haired band (the eminent Paul Revere and the Raiders), Elvis, even in shades and long sideburns, seemed like a prophet without honor in his own country.

My friend, perhaps, turned into a secret Elvis believer while I venerated for a while one of the many who displaced him.

Wherever you are, old friend, I sort of hope you don't regret batting your eyes at the poster of Elvis on your wall. You and your idol were young.

If that was worship, the King would forgive.

Melanie B. Smith Melanie B. Smith

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