SHEENA BARNETT: Elvis’ Tupelo not too much of a stretch from today’s

So, I wonder: if Elvis were an 11-year-old boy living in Tupelo today, what would he think about the city?
I wondered this last week while I watched most of the documentary “Elvis: Return to Tupelo.”
I say “most of” because, apparently, my DVR decided I already knew a lot about Elvis’ earliest years here in Tupelo and it didn’t record the first 20 minutes or so.
It has a point, I guess: I grew up here, so I’ve heard the tales about a young Elvis drinking RC Colas at Johnnie’s and singing at Milam.
When I took this job, I interviewed Elvis’ childhood friends and heard tales that only they could tell about the boy who would be King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
The documentary told me something I hadn’t heard before, though, and that was that our favorite son loved comic books.
How cool is that?
The mention of comics reminded me that I’m a little annoyed about comics myself right now. Since there isn’t a comic book shop in town (R.I.P., Comics and Stuff), I have to order my comics online, and right now, they’re late.
Where would Elvis buy comics if he were an 11-year-old boy today? Would he order them online, too, or would he make do with the selection at bookstores?
Where would he buy music? I have no doubt he’d take in Album Alley, and maybe even buy some vinyl down at Greatest Hits. (Come to think of it, though, would there be these cool music stores in town had Elvis never changed music as we know it?)
Would he still go to Johnnie’s, or would he just drive through McDonald’s?
The documentary said Elvis was picked on by older, “cooler” kids for being different.
Well, yeah, he was different. The music he listened to, what he wanted to do with his life, the clothes he wore – especially after he moved to Memphis and really found his own voice and identity – were just so different from anything else here.
The books and music Elvis liked may have changed since he was a kid here in Tupelo, but one thing hasn’t: being different, especially around here, gets you picked on.
True, today’s standards are different than they were in the late 1940s, but still, in any generation, different is different. Just ask any kid who doesn’t own a Northface jacket if they ever get beat up or left out.
I have absolutely no doubt that if Elvis were an 11-year-old in Tupelo today, he’d get teased. It is 2010, though, so much of it would probably happen on Facebook, or maybe a video of him getting punched would wind up on YouTube.
It’s funny how so much changes – and many of these changes in Tupelo may have been brought about because of Elvis himself – but some things never will.
Maybe there’s another 11-year-old Elvis in Tupelo now. Maybe there’s another kid who reads comics, listens to weird music and wears odd outfits, and maybe he – or she – is going to change the world.
You never know.

Contact Sheena Barnett at or (662) 678-1580.


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