by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

For years, I tried to hide it. If people asked, I denied the rumors. But sooner or later, like a moon through the clouds, your secrets emerge from darkness. And in a few days, mine will be exposed.

So I conferred with my people, my handlers, and they suggested, like Bill O’Reilly, it was best if I got out in front of this nasty business. So I will. Right here. I will confess it now.

I do Elvis.

There. It’s out. It’s not something you like to admit. But in six days, I will be doing my Elvis right here, in my hometown, on a stage, and there will be no denying it. The lies must stop. I do Elvis. I wear the wig. I wear the gold lame jacket. I’m not very good, if that matters. In fact, I’m really bad. But I know that makes no difference now. The guilty get no excuses.

Oh, I would like to blame others. And I could. I could blame my fellow bandmates in our truly awful ensemble, which goes by the name of the Rock Bottom Remainders. We are mostly writers — including Dave Barry, Amy Tan, Scott Turow, Ridley Pearson, Frank McCourt, Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Roy Blount Jr. — and what I mean by “writers” is “people who can’t sing or play.”

But that doesn’t stop us. We sing. We play. And like the Monkees, we are coming to your town.

And I am wearing fake sideburns.

The tour stops here

Now, to those of you who have heard whispers of my wiggling, my warbling, my wiggling and my warbling, well, I apologize for previous denials. The band has been together for more than 10 years, and the truth is, I have done my “Jailhouse Rock” thing in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Denver, Boston, even Austin, Texas. I even did it in Chicago, dangerously close to Michigan. What was I thinking? No one would talk? Well, that’s how it is with secrets, you get brazen, you get sloppy. And then you make a mistake.

My mistake, of course, was letting someone in the band say, “Hey, let’s play Detroit.”

And now we are. At Clutch Cargo’s in Pontiac, this Saturday night. I feel mighty sorry for that place, which may have to close after serious damage to its reputation.

Then again, it’s not as if others don’t embarrass themselves in our band. Amy Tan wears a dominatrix outfit, OK? And Dave Barry sings “Gloria,” a song so mundane, as he says, if you throw a guitar off a cliff, when it hits the rocks, it plays “Gloria.” Frank McCourt said he knew one song on the harmonica, “Love Me Do” by the Beatles, and so we learned to play “Love Me Do,” which takes most bands five minutes and took us three months and 47 faxes. And when Frank came on stage, he lifted the harmonica and we began “Love Me Do,” except Frank was playing “I Should Have Known Better,” which turned out to be the one song he knew, and we should have known better, too.

The worst part is, nobody noticed.

The spirit moved me

But I’m stalling. The Elvis thing. Look. It began as a child, watching Elvis movies on TV. It continued in my first garage band, singing “Hound Dog.” It deepened when I lived in Greece, at a small resort where I worked as a musician and I knew nobody would talk. So I did a few songs and I wiggled my hips and well, like young Elvis himself once said, “The music kinda moved me.”

And now it comes full circle. In my hometown. I can hide no longer. The only saving grace is that our “concert” (Ha! What a word!) is for charity, so anyone who has ever had a pie tossed in his face for a good cause knows how I feel.

So it’s out. I confess. I do Elvis. Badly. But I do him. Those who cannot attend the show, please destroy this column and forget I said anything.

And those who do attend, I have but one request: As the King himself said, don’t be cruel.

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or albom@freepress.com”


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New book, The Little Liar, arrives November 14. Get the details »

Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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