Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Is John Smith Elvis ?

By: Belkis Cuza-Malé

Fern writes, quickly, as not to lose the impulse: "You are Elvis! You do not deceive me, I have a very good ear and you are Elvis". Fern is new in the music room "Presley Family and Friends1"-- one of so many rooms that exist in Pal Talk honoring the singer --; we are few, those that were there at dawn while John Smith finishes singing one of Elvis' songs. The voice that we hear, is the voice of the King of Rock and Roll, slightly horned with the years, but the same quality of voice, the same tone, the same masters.

It was the first time that Fern (an ETA -- Elvis Tribute Artist -- of Canada) heard the singing of John Smith, but he does not seem to be astonished of anything, and, indifferent, John Smith speaks into the microphone and soon he returns to sing. Although the mysterious personage appears and disappears in Pal Talk, here in "Presley Family and Friends1" his visit is always reason for fright and rejoicing. The majority of people in PalTalk have heard him sing, but nobody has ever seen his face, no matter what some in the "halls" of Pal Talk repeat. The reality is that John Smith is a mystery, somebody that would make the delights of a Conan Doyle, the famous author of Sherlock Holmes, also turned in paranormal subjects.

For months, a photo of a young John Smith was in his Pal Talk profile accompanied by two lines of description. Some, nevertheless, suspected that the photo was not John, but a computerized photo or something of the sort. Anything is valid, if it is what is wanted to maintain the true identity of a man hidden. A man of whom all aim to find, like the true Elvis Presley. The confusion is valid, I think, which there has been reason. I have heard him sing for hours and hours and for months I have heard his voice in the microphone, and even seen the palm of his hands on camera and appreciated the famous "star" on his palm, that is mentioned in the book by Becky Yancey, Elvis' secretary.

There are several good impersonators of the King of Rock and Roll, but at the time of truth, it is impossible not to notice the difference. With echo, without echo, with music, or acapella, whistling or with those guttural sounds that an early Elvis Presley dominated with masters in "Blue Moon", John Smith is the unique one who makes possible, the belief in the survival after "the death."

Although the subject around Elvis inventing his own death would seem declining already, or unreal, and until reason for irreverent, the doubts have not stopped since the 16th of August 1977, the day the world received the news of his physical disappearance. And those that have followed him is a sign that these rumors speak of all types of things, believed or not, but in truly suspicious short whiles. To affirm that Elvis Presley died that day is almost one truth by halves. The thorough students of the real personality of Elvis know that it was a unique type. I would say more, that he was the most imaginative man, in control of his reality, that I have known.

Details did not escape him: the Bible was known like the back of his hand, but he also read more important esoteric and Metaphysical Literature, and the Merck medical Manual. And his musical talents, his incredible voice, his genius, were on par with the very way he would interpret the life. For him, nothing seemed impossible, almost to the stubborn end. And I, who have interviewed his closest people, and have talked with some of them, know what it meant to be a friend of Elvis, of a nature like his, able to go one day and buy all the dogs of a pet store, only because, after giving several to Lisa and her friends, the others did not feel left out. What sense would a man like him have to fake his own death?

Every year by this date, his admirers -- who grow by the thousand every day -- make their annual pilgrimage to Memphis, to visit Graceland and the unquiet grave that remains empty, in my opinion, in the Meditation Garden. John Smith said to me, that he has not entered Graceland in many years, but the last time he was there, he just walked in and I laugh to myself and I ask him if he was like a ghost.

Good, he does not like the questions, but at times, he has said to me other things, such as his preference for the equipment of football in Tennessee, his love for fast cars, but their sure fidelity, to thoseCadillacss -- black, or target bone --, and its obstinacy with returning to ski in the water. He says that one does not resist to not being able.

Where does he live?Whatt does he do? How does John Smith pass his days? Good, most of the time, it seems to be in Texas, although it enchants Florida to him, and he travels to different sites. "I have sung to the entire world online", he says, spacing his answers. I know that he also rides his horses, across the farms of Texas, where he hides, but his passion is to sing, to sing without rest, until hurting the throat. After many years already in Texas, it is not strange to me that now he uses jeans and exquisite and expensive cowboy boots. That yes, always with that outlandish style, one where the rhinestones and certain details cannot need, and now they turn around the belts of a cowboy and the great and beautiful clasps.

Do you, my readers, want me to say how I imagine John Smith? Good, because with his white straw hat, like an orderly mess, leaving only in the open those intense blue eyes, and grayish beard, after which it disguises the true oval of his face, now tanned by the years. So that we do not recognize him, clear. Surely, he drives across his farm, in that almost black pickup truck, that not only runs, but flies.

Yes, again, this August 16th, the fans of Elvis will render tribute to their idol. Perhaps I, however, will again have the privilege of hearing the music of John Smith, really Elvis Presley?

Belkis Cuza-Malé, Cuban-American poet, writer and journalist, is the author of Elvis, The Unquiet Grave or the True Story of Jon Burrows (LLP, 1994.) She lives in Texas, where she found and is the director of La Casa Azul, and Linden Lane Magazine, founded in 1882 with his late husband, the famous Cuban poet, Heberto Padilla.

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