Friday, August 7, 2009

From Elvis In Kosovo

The above headline is obviously inspired by From Elvis In Memphis that is once again in the limelight thanks to the 40th Anniversary Legacy Edition CD. But the post itself has absolutely nothing to do with that great album. Here goes:

A couple of years ago I left the safety of civilian life and did a tour of duty with the Swedish Armed Forces stationed in Kosovo, as part of the peacekeeping mission. As you can imagine, I brought my fair share of Elvis albums with me together with a portable CD player. (This was just before the iPods made their entrance.)

One of my army buddies kind of digged Elvis too, especially the 70's stuff, so one day we talked about organizing an Elvis night in the mess room. This was a fairly easy thing to do, since music was played in the mess every Saturday evening during bar hours. Me and my buddy just volunteered to pull bar duty one particular night and we were on.

We then decorated practically the whole camp with posters announcing an "Elvis night" the following Saturday, where only Elvis music would be played. Admittedly, we were a bit worried that no one would turn up, but apparently word had spread quickly.

The night in question the mess room was packed with uniforms, most of them Swedish, but some from other countries as well. To this day I still remember the first song we played - "I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water" - and soon the place was cooking.

I also recall a Norwegian soldier turning up, armed with a guitar. All of a sudden he was doing his own Elvis imitation, something that came as a complete surprise. He was all right I guess, but many in the crowd wanted the real thing back, and pretty soon "Whole Lot-ta Shakin' Goin' On" blasted through the speakers.

All in all, the night was a complete success. I'd like to think that Elvis would've been proud had he known what his music meant to all those soldiers that night, serving in another country far from home.

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