I never know when a teaching moment will show up. Today it happened when I looked in the fridge at lunchtime and noticed that we were out of jelly.
“How about PB and banana?” I asked the kids. “That was Elvis’ favorite sandwich.”
“Who’s Elvis?” they wanted to know. Which was a better response than the expected, “Yuck!”
So while I slapped together the ingredients, I told them. “Elvis was a singer. He was one of the most successful singers who ever lived. He brought the blues to rock and roll.”
“What are the blues?”
This question caused me to bust out in my own blues riff about being out of jelly and having to make peanut butter and banana sandwiches. They weren’t impressed.
“You don’t sound very sad,” my boy told me.
So then I did my best imitation of Big Mama Thornton singing Hound Dog. It’s sort of mid-tempo, and she’s disgusted with the guy she’s singing about. They seemed to like that one better.
“Elvis changed it like this,” I said, and I did my rendition of him. I’m two lines in before my girl starts dancing. So then I pulled out my laptop and we listened to the real Elvis. They forgot all about sandwiches and started rocking out to The King in the kitchen.
“Y’all have no idea how radical this music was. When Elvis first came out, this was the kind of music people listened to…” On my computer I pulled up a bunch of doo-wop and mid ’50s rock. We listened to it in all its chorale earnestness and sleepy tempo.
“This is really boring,” my girl said.
“Now Elvis.” I put Hound Dog back on, and they were rocking out again. We danced to All Shook Up, Jailhouse Rock, and Don’t Be Cruel. They wandered off to the living room when I put on a ballad, so I took that opportunity to finish assembling lunch. Afterward, we watched this YouTube of Elvis’ breakthrough performance on Milton Berle:
“Elvis looks like a scientist,” my boy said.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“He’s wearing a white coat. He looks like he could do experiments when he’s not singing.”
I thought that was pretty funny.
As it turned out, the experimental sandwiches were kind of yucky. But we had fun.
Categories: The Kids