At least in the hearts of his fans. And they are everywhere.
Twenty-five years after his August 16, 1977 death, the raven-haired, swivel-hipped crooner still fascinates millions. His songs fill the airwaves. His face graces postage stamps and velvet paintings worldwide. Thousands trek to Graceland, his Memphis home, to pay homage to the king of rock and roll.
Impersonators abound. The "Flying Elvi" (plural of "Elvis"; get it?), Las Vegas daredevils, combine skydiving with Elvis nostalgia. Merchants sell "Barbie Loves Elvis" doll sets and Elvis mouse pads. Tupelo, Mississippi, (Elvis' birthplace) boasts an Elvis McDonalds.
Even academics are into Elvis. The University of Mississippi has held International Conferences on Elvis Presley. Scholarly seminars included "Civil Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and Elvis;" "Elvis: The Twinless Twins' Search for Spiritual Meaning" (Elvis' twin brother died at birth); and "Elvis `n' Jesus".
America. What a country!
Is Elvis mania an international joke? "Our cat is named Elvis Presley," explained a Miami office manager. "He's fat with a black coat, white collar and eyes that glaze over - Elvis in his later years." "The other day, we had an Elvis sighting," her husband noted, "in a tree."
A North Carolina journalist feels some people have a psychological need to believe in Elvis. A southern California M.D. wonders if fans may be bonding with a romanticized part of their youth. And, he adds, "People who don't have God make a god out of all sorts of things."
Indeed. Many pilgrims to Graceland display deep reverence with candlelight ceremonies, flowers and icons. Some fans talk to Elvis. One scholar at Mississippi's International Conference noted that "without looking at spirituality, you can't explain the Elvis phenomena."
Some folks on the fringe believe Elvis is alive. My informal survey encountered no actual Elvis spotters, though a few claimed they had seen the Energizer Bunny.
Is the Elvis craze simply a zany fad? Or does it indicate something deeper about human longings? Some seek happiness through success, wealth or relationships. Probably everyone has at least one "Elvis" in their life: a person, idea, team, goal or possession that inspires their devotion and quest for fulfillment.
But human-based searches for ultimate happiness can be risky. For most of us, there will always be someone richer, more intelligent or articulate, better looking or more popular than we. Our teams will lose; our heroes will have flaws. Even if you reach the top...what then? Latest statistics show the death rate is still 100%. Is there something more?
Probably few realize that Elvis' only Grammy Award for a single came for his 1974 recording of "How Great Thou Art," a famous hymn. The lyrics, which likely reflected his own spiritual roots, point to hope beyond human accomplishment.
The biblical God alluded to in this song is described elsewhere as a friend of those in need. "The Lord is my shepherd," wrote an Israeli king. "I have everything I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths."
Elvis Presley is dead. Some therapists encourage their clients to get in touch with their "Inner Elvis". As the world commemorates the twenty-fifth anniversary of his passing, perhaps it would be more fruitful to look beyond our "Inner Elvis" to Someone greater.
Rusty Wright is an author and university lecturer with Probe.org who has spoken on six continents. "Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091;