Sunday, December 4, 2016

Richard Thompson – "From Galway to Graceland"

To be with her sweetheart, 
She left everything
From Galway to Graceland
To be with the King

When we meet the unnamed Irish heroine of Richard Thompson’s “From Galway to Graceland,” she is getting dressed in the middle of the night.

Her husband of twenty years is sound asleep, so he doesn’t hear her sneak out of their County Galway home.

Where is she going?  To the nearest airport, where she will board a flight for the United States.  Her ultimate destination is Memphis – the home of Elvis Presley.

When our heroine – who has “Elvis, I Love You” tattooed on her breast – lands in Memphis, she heads straight for Graceland and Presley’s final resting place:

She was down by his graveside 
Day after day
Come closing time they 
Would pull her away

Elvis Presley's final resting place
Ignoring the throngs of tourists who pass through Graceland every day, our heroine spends the day conversing to Elvis:

[B]lindly she knelt there 
And she told him her dreams
And she thought that he answered 
Or that's how it seemed

If you think that anyone who flies from Ireland to Memphis and then spends every waking moment kneeling at the grave of Elvis Presley and talking to the dead man is mentally ill, you’re right – as the song’s final lines demonstrate:

[T]hey dragged her away 
It was handcuffs this time
She said, “My good man,
Are you out of your mind?
Don't you know that we're married? 
See, I'm wearing his ring.”

I’m guessing that ring was given to her by her husband, who’s sitting in their home back in Ireland, wondering where the hell his Elvis-obsessed nut job of a wife is.

I’m also guessing that the husband is not altogether sorry that she's disappeared.  Seeing an “Elvis, I love you” tattoo on your wife's body every time she gets undressed isn’t exactly a turn on.

*     *     *     *     *

Speaking of Elvis, the 23rd annual “Night of 100 Elvises” took place in Baltimore last night.

Most of the people who attended that event aren't really Elvis fans.  (A group of real Elvis fans would break 3-to-1 or 4-to-1 for Trump over Clinton.  The folks at the “Night of 100 Elvises” last night would probably break 3-to-1 or 4-to1 the opposite way.)

The woman from Galway in the Richard Thompson song wouldn't enjoy "Night of 100 Elvises."  For her, Elvis was no joke.  (Of course, she was stark raving bonkers.)

I don’t know how you feel about Elvis.  I’m not a fan – I find his music (like most music from the fifties) hopelessly dated.

Elvis Presley was only 42 when he died on August 16, 1977.  I would have guessed he was much older.

The day he died I was in Kansas City, which was the last stop of a three-week, 5000-mile driving trip through 13 Western states.  I saw the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Las Vegas, the Great Salt Lake, Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park, Mt. Rushmore, and much, much more – all for the first time – on that trip.

Did Elvis impersonators exist before Presley’s death?  I don’t remember there being any, but maybe there were.

There weren’t literally a hundred Elvis impersonators at the “Night of 100 Elvises”  this year – more like two dozen (including one ten-year-old).

What made those guys decide to be Elvis impersonators?  For some of them, maybe it's because they really love his music.  But I'm guessing that most of them were hoping that being an Elvis impersonator would help them get women.  (That's the explanation for most of the things guys do, after all.)

*     *     *     *     *

I can't say that “From Galway to Graceland” does much for me.  The Irish Elvis fan is too grotesque for me to take seriously.  I don't feel much empathy for her because I don't really believe in her.

But Thompson's performance indicates to me that he buys into his character and her situation 110%.

Here’s “From Galway to Graceland”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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