Elvis, himselvis

Searching for the king in Graceland

Elvis outside of his Graceland home.
(Image credit: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

There are some things — football, particle physics, heavy metal, and constitutional law among them — that I love, but don't love nearly as much as I love the way people love them. Give me a choice between watching the Super Bowl and watching people talk about the Super Bowl for two hours, and I'll always pick the latter: Listen to someone explain their passion, and eventually, they'll show you their soul. But at the very top of this list of loves, there can only be one man and one myth: Elvis Presley.

I love Elvis' music, his jumpsuits, his voice. I love his movies, from Love Me Tender (young Elvis playing rock n' roll in the aftermath of the Civil War; don't overthink it) to Change of Habit (grown Elvis romancing a nun; again, don't overthink it). I love the sexuality of young Elvis, which was so raw it achieved a kind of purity. I love the 1968 comeback special, which was once the only CD in my car for an entire year; I love "Hound Dog," which still thrills and baffles me as much as it did when I first heard it as a child. I love everything about Elvis, but I love his fans even more. I once went to an Elvis tribute artist competition (don't call them impersonators) in a casino on the Oregon coast, and felt the tremor of prayerful intensity that dominated the room when one of the good ones, one of the really good ones, took the stage. He performed "Baby Let's Play House," and for about three minutes, Elvis was alive.

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Sarah Marshall's writings on gender, crime, and scandal have appeared in The Believer, The New Republic, Fusion, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2015, among other publications. She tweets @remember_Sarah.