Where were you August 16, 1977…

Some of you may not have been born yet, but for those who remember…where were you?  what were you doing?  Me, I was about to turn 13, we were hanging out with another family just enjoying the summer and suddenly Mom was crying…why?  Because August 16, 1977 was the day Elvis died…

While American’s seem completely captivated by those pseudo celebs who are famous for…well…nothing and the media captures every move and news items one week old are treated as ancient history, Elvis Presley—who died 36 years ago today—remains as popular as ever. Why?  It’s not just because our popular culture idolizes its heroes, that’s a given, no, at the heart of the Elvis phenomenon is something much simpler and very American: dreaming big dreams and making those dreams come true.
In a a way, popular culture has a spiritual element to it. And although many of us deify our musical icons and exhibit an almost religious devotion to them, think Beatles and Rat Pack for the older generation…Justin Beiber for the tweens and hundreds of others in between.  There is a similarity between the primary message of the early Elvis (’54-’56) and the one central to most of the great religious figures of history: change. That one can take the past, breathe new life into it, and with the promise of youth and open-mindedness, rebel against the steadfastly held morals of the day, and, ultimately, change the future.

To fully appreciate the influence of Elvis on the world of music, it is critical to listen to the music of those first few years. He was not just some semi-talented white guy who ripped off infinitely more gifted black artists and rewarded, no, he may have been many things, but he was not that.  Just go back and listen to his early music, “That’s All Right, Mama,” “Good Rockin’ Tonight,” and “Hound Dog.”  Musically, the early Elvis was an astonishingly gifted chemist—creating his own personal style by mixing black music with country and pop.

His staggering vocal talent, however, is only part of his story. Think about the society that this man exploded into in the mid-’50s…a stale America, its inhabitants decked out in suits and dresses, living in “Happy Days”.  It was a society with nothing at stake.  Then comes Elvis…

amused, defiant, cool, hips quivering and then
 everything was at stake. Suddenly America was in the midst of a game of chicken, because Elvis was playing for keeps and taking his dreams very, very seriously. And, then, so were those who listened to him, his voice burning into the suburbs.
The man had ambition, he was the son of a sharecropper, he roamed Memphis’s black Beale Street section listening and learning, his music full of unmentionable menace, but was also tender and romantic lyricism. He was all contradiction: the raunchy roadhouse rocker who loved mom and Jesus, the yes-sir/no-sir Southern boy with the swaggering carelessness, the smoldering sex symbol with the self-mocking smile. And, like Fitzgerald’s Gatsby, he was all magnetism: “There was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promise of life—as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away.”  He was, and is, the stuff that American Dreamers are made of.

John Lennon said that before Elvis there was nothing and after Elvis there was everything. While this is debatable, but when Elvis hit the US in 1955, singing and moving those hips, the world has never been the same.

So, can the birth of rock and roll can be explained simply as a matter of some white guy coming along who could “sing black” and get the teenage girls to scream?  There is no way to ever explain Elvis or his legacy, he was simply a poor sharecropper’s son who mixed the music of the poor whites and blacks and scared mid-1950s America, and whose talent dwarfed any who followed.

Me, I was raised by a mother who would sneak an apple from home and save her lunch money all week, just to go see him on the big screen or to by his latest single, I’ve been on the pilgrimage to Graceland 3 times and will likely end up there again in the future.  My nieces have also grown up with an appreciation for his beautiful voice, Mom still plays his music regularly, there is a satellite station dedicated to only his music, the movies are available on DVD for generations to come to enjoy…honestly, when I find one of his movies on cable…I watch!  I also have the Aloha from Hawaii CD (yes a CD) in my car that I put in when the mood strikes.
So…do you remember?
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Who are your Role Models?

March is Women’s History Month and today is International Women’s Day, when we take time to appreciate women’s contributions to society. I strive to lead by and set an example for my five beautiful nieces, to make certain they know they can do anything they choose…the road might not always be easy, but the rewards are worth it!

I grew up on a farm in Madison, Indiana, but I always knew I wanted…more, but I could never define “more”.  My beautiful, strong mother set a great example for me.  I was fortunate to have grown up knowing two other amazing women, my Grandmothers.  Between Mom, Granny (Mom’s Mom) and Mamma (Dad’s Mom), I learned so much about life, love, cooking, and well, just living.  I didn’t choose the path that was expected, I could have married, had babies and stayed on the Farm, but they instilled a certainty in me that I could do anything I chose…who knew that it would be a Realtor, changing careers in my late 40’s is something I never expected, but am thrilled that I did and while my Grandmother’s have gone (Granny 28 years ago and Mamma only recently) I’m so fortunate to have my Mom, never wavering in her faith that I will succeed.

Fast forward to today…the strength of the friends I surround myself with (both women and men) astounds me. From those I’m closest to in The Group, My Clients, my fellow Keller Williams agents and the people I have met during my journey…I am so blessed  to have them all in my life.

Who inspires you?  Do you live your life as an inspiration to others?  Click here to see a great MSN slide show on the women who inspire them…who would be on your list?

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Vicki Reed

Wish # 5

My fifth wish is that society curb their consumerism…do we really need a bigger TV to be happy?  Does constantly accumulating more “things” make you happy?  I’m the first to admit…I love shopping!  I love nice clothes, purses, coats…and oh the shoes!  But do I need them to be happy?  Probably not, but the right shoes with the right outfit makes me happy and these red ones, they just make me feel great…Red Shoes

I see people every day, working hard and spending more for things you wonder if they really need or more likely, do their children.  Growing up, we had everything we needed, sure there was plenty of stuff we wanted, but I couldn’t tell you now what any of those things were.  My favorite things are the experiences we had as a family.  My Pappa was a school bus driver and a farmer (goes hand in hand more often than you would think).  His route took him past our house for a drop, then he would come back by…we would yell to Mom where we were headed, he’d pick us up at the end of the drive-way and take us home with him.  Mamma would add more plates to the table and after Dad got home and finished feeding (we too lived on a farm), he and Mom would come to retrieve us.  There was always ice cream (sometimes homemade that we had to crank!) or watermelon and cantaloupe, sitting on the front porch, laughing, talking enjoying the breeze and each other before jumping into the back of the pick-up and heading home.

With Christmas just around the corner, it is a great time to take stock, look around at what you have, decide what you really need before making that Christmas wish list, think about what you have, what you don’t use any more and donate usable items to your favorite charities…Goodwill, Salvation Army, Red Cross…the list is extensive.

My friend (and Co-Blogger) Mary O has a great solution – she has 3 sons, all married, 2 with kids, (1 with dogs) – instead of shopping for things…she takes each family to dinner and an event.  Plays, the Circus, Children’s Museum…she is making memories that her Grandchildren will remember for a lifetime…that’s what life is about, not the “things” you accumulate…

What could you live without?  What are your wishes for positive change?  Please share!

Vicki Reed