Sunday, August 19, 2007

Where "Hound of Heaven" Meets "Hound Dog"

I'll never forget when Frank Sinatra died.

Back in the old neighborhood, the natives wore black, photos of the Chairman were hung in the windows (with candles, of course), and practically all the traditions of a family funeral were followed by more people than they weren't -- the only thing missing was the old-time "crepe," which would be hung on the door to announce the arrangements.

But even for all that, what took the cake was when one of the local parishes decided to hold a memorial Mass. Take a guess what the hymns were...

...and let it just be said that, as the first words of the recessional rang out from the speakers....
Put your dreams away for another day/
And I will take their place in your heart...
...the older ladies -- many of whom loved Frank more than their husbands (and made no secret of it, either) -- lost all control of themselves.

To this very Sunday, my folks never, ever leave for Mass before my Dad (never one for capricious use of electricity) tunes the radio to the Lord's day edition of the Sid Mark show, the thrice-weekly, five-hour Sinatraton hosted by the DJ who's been spinning nothing other than Ol' Blue Eyes for 50 -- count 'em 5-0 -- years. 

Presumably, they're thinking that, by the time they get home, the house is filled with Frank... but I never asked why. 

Forgive the sidebar but, building on Thursday's post, just couldn't help but think of it when word came in of the annual Assumption Day ritual at the Memphis parish whose boundaries encompass Graceland....

A reader writes: 
At St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church... the 3PM mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, just hours before the Candelight Vigil, is always [offered] for the repose of the soul of Elvis Presley....

[T]he church was filled to capacity. There were also camera crews (one from Europe somewhere, and one from Reuters) taping everything.

At the offertory, we sang a medley that combined "Immaculate Mary" with Elvis' "Miracle of the Rosary," and the homily talked about how Mary leads people to Jesus, and if Elvis is in heaven, it's because he too led and leads people to Jesus. Also, for the sake of any non-Catholics who were there, the pastor explained the Church's understanding of Mary. He was joined by four concelebrating priests in town for the anniversary of Elvis' death, two of whom were from other countries.
It's not too often you get a Dual Holy Day... if anyone's ever wanted more reason to do Elvis Week, it's definitely something to keep in mind.

On a final note, my resident expert on All Things Elvis said the other day that the King bristled at what's become his most common nickname.

So the story goes, seeing a sign while onstage that read "Elvis is the King," Presley pointed it out, saying into the mic "Jesus is the King -- not me."

PHOTO: AP/Mark Humphrey