Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Weekend in Yuma, Arizona, Part 3: Elvis is Still in the Building

Elvis competition 2020, Quechan Casino. Winterhaven, California. January 2020.

Without hesitation, I plunked down 40 bucks to go to the Saturday night Elvis Presley impersonator competition at the Quechan Casino in Winterhaven, California, just outside of Yuma.

Elvis competition 2020, Quechan Casino. Winterhaven, California. January 2020.

For me to throw down 40 bucks for a couple of hours of entertainment is extraordinary. I'm not even particularly swoon-y over Elvis, though I do admire the singer's recorded-for-posterity voice, persona, swagger, and good looks. I liked watching his movies as a kid, and I have a cousin who, as a teen and young man, looked very much like Elvis in his prime.

While I lived in South Louisiana, I found this hypnotic song between Elvis and Kitty White, singing Crawfish, from his movie King Creole:

So. TEN Elvises on stage? When would this opportunity ever come by again? And what else could compete on a Saturday night in Yuma? This had all the cachet of going to the Olean Testicle Festival, but in a climate-controlled room in a comfortable seat!

The Elvises delivered, with the exception of the guy who chose to sing - out of all of the songs in Elvis' immense catalog - the so-called American Trilogy.

The American Trilogy is a medley of three songs:
  • I Wish I Was in Dixie
  • Battle Hymn Republic
  • All My Trials (or Sorrows)

Why, of all songs, would an Elvis competitor choose this song? And why would the contest folks permit it?

Presenting all three songs in this emo-inducing medley gives equal weight to a sentimental yearning for the "grace" of a plantation idyll, to marching Union solders, and to the cry of a mother to her infant.  ....

Oh I wish I was in the land of cotton
Old times there are not forgotten
Look away, look away, look away Dixieland.

Dixie doesn't deserve any fair-handedness. Dixie is a dark, dark period in our history, and we need to treat it as such, and stop romanticizing it.

Except in the group shots on stage, there are no photos of that Elvis who chose to sing this song.

A slide show of Elvises below:

Elvis Presley Competition 2020


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