Jesus And Elvis - Hayes Carll

from the album What It Is (2019)

When I was a boy, my parents had a turntable atop a small entertainment center in our living room.  Below the turntable, were about two dozen records, with the first album facing outward through a glass door.

I used to like flipping through the records, opening them up, reading the liner notes, studying the photos.  There were early Beatles records, some Bossa Nova, Frank Sinatra, and - of course - Bing Crosby's Christmas Album.

Invariably, whichever record I was last looking at wound up in the front position, visible to anyone walking into the room.  However, my mother would always rearrange the records placing the same record in the front position.  That record was a recording of John F. Kennedy's Presidential Inauguration, with a handsome photo of the thirty-fifth president proudly surveying our home.

This made sense.  As a young Irish-Catholic couple, my parents naturally identified with this accomplished and charismatic man.  His image helped define who we were.

On the song Jesus And Elvis, Hayes Carll sings of two of the most recognizable brands in the western world; their images hanging in a small town bar.

Jesus and Elvis
Painted on velvet
Hanging at the bar every night
It's good to be back again
Oh, me and my old friends
Beneath a neon cross and a string of Christmas lights

The song reminds me of how these symbols serve as guideposts and offer a foundation for our own stories.

It also makes me think of the homes of people from my generation.  By and large, nobody hangs images like these around any more.  The only exception I can think of are a few black friends, who proudly display images of Barrack Obama.  Good for them.

What are the implications of not having iconic figures to identify with?  I don' have any answers, but I am guessing that it leaves us floundering a bit.  How do you know where you are headed if you don't know where you came from?

In some ways, I envy the folks in this song.

Click Here to listen to Jesus And Elvis by Hayes Carll.

Click Here to read my April 2016 blog post for Love Don't Let Me Down by Hayes Carll.

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