towards the end of his life
It's hot and sticky
in the summer in Memphis, Tennessee. The sea is hundreds of miles away
from this city on the Mississippi river, yet that doesn't stop the
tourists from coming. Some come just once, others make the trip
regularly. These are the real fans, those for whom rock 'n' roll has
only one voice, that of "the King" himself: Elvis
Memphis is the city where Elvis lived
for most of his professional life; and though he died in 1977, Memphis
has not forgotten him. On the contrary, America's most famous rocker
(the only one to have had his picture on a set of U.S. postage stamps!)
has become the city's most famous son — and seems to get more
and more important as the years go by.
Beside Highway 51, just south of the
city is Graceland; this is the house which Elvis bought after he became
a star, and which he kept till the day he died. Today it belongs to his
daughter Lisa Marie, but is run
as an Elvis Presley museum: it is the second most visited house in the
U.S.A., after the White House.
The people who work at Graceland seem to
be some of Elvis's biggest fans. They live and breathe Elvis! In the
café, there is day-long Elvis on the music system; and as
visitors are taken round Graceland, their guides talk about Elvis as if
he were more than the King — more like the God of rock 'n'
"Is it true Elvis died of drugs?" asks a
non-believer in the crowd of visitors being shown round the house.
Most of the other visitors look at her
angrily or in astonishment
as if she has said something terrible.
"Oh no," says the tour guide. For a
moment her permanent cheek-to-cheek smile changes into a frown
of discontent. "Oh no, that's just a story, made up to discredit
him. You know, Elvis had plenty of friends, but he sure had some
enemies too. They made up a whole bunch
of stories about him. There's no way Elvis took drugs. You know, he was
even a federal agent. You'll see his card downstairs."
Then the guide's 180° smile
springs back, and she changes the subject, plunging into eulogies
about the wonderful style with which Elvis decorated his house.
Elvis loved Cadillacs,
and his Automobile Museum at Graceland is a popular attraction
For a poor boy brought up in a two-room shack
in rural Mississippi, it probably was fairly good style. Elvis's tastes
rather like those of many other ordinary unsophisticated folk
He liked the good things in life: girls, guitars and Cadillacs
— and he sang about them regularly. That was one of the
reasons why he became such a star.
The other reason was, of course, that
Elvis really was a good artist, and he really did change the face of
American popular music. Before Elvis, the only real rock 'n' roll
singers were black, and their style was not quite the same as that of
Elvis. Elvis was the first white rocker, and thus — in an age
where black music, except jazz, was not widely appreciated outside the
black community — he opened up a whole new branch of American
As a young rocker, he was America's
biggest star, and this reputation followed him into middle age. His
energy and his looks, however, did not. By the time he was forty, Elvis
was a sick man, dependent on drugs. The thin athletic youth had become
a fat prematurely-aged
man. It was not surprising, really, that he did not survive beyond the
age of 42.
As for his reputation, that is a
different story. Elvis may have died in 1977; his influence, and his
reputation, are still very much alive today.
© Linguapress. Do not copy
this document to any other website
Copying permitted for personal study, or by teachers for use with their
pupils look out for the demonstratives (this, that, these, those) in
this article. Note in particular that only that and those can be
followed by a preposition (or by a relative clause). Otherwise, this
and these refer to proximity (spatial, temporal or notional), and that
and those to distance.
EFL teachers: Help develop this resource by contributing extra teaching
materials or exercises.
copyright Linguapress .
Revised 2015 . Originally published in Freeway,
Republication on other websites or in print is not authorised