Rarely have I been more filled with joy and excitement than the night of April 15, 2012 — the night that Tupac Shakur made his triumphant return to the stage, performing at the closing night of the Coachella Music Festival. Nearly 16 years after his untimely death, and following years of re-issues, bootlegs, tributes, biographies, T-shirts, and a posthumous discography that outnumbers the work he completed while alive, the greatest hip-hop artist of our time returned to reclaim the medium he helped define — this time in hologram form.
So successful was “the Tupac Hologram,” as it quickly became known, that a veritable Tupac comeback is now being mooted. According to the Wall Street Journal, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre are currently “discussing logistics for a tour involving the two performers and the virtual Tupac.” For a new generation who never had a chance to witness the great artist in his prime, this tour will no doubt become a can’t-miss event. But as wonderful as his return may be, a small part of me still worries that a hologram could never quite capture the charisma and presence of the real thing. That’s why I offer you fine gentleman an exciting proposal: a triumphant world tour for the one, the only, Elvis Presley. Sure, he’s still dead, and has been since 1977, but if we act now, I’m confident we could save his corpse before it entirely decomposes.
Just imagine the thrill: there you are in a massive stadium, surrounded by a multitude of fans both old and young, anticipation thick in the air. The lights go down, the band begins to play, and the unmistakable sound of “All Shook Up” starts blaring blares from the speakers, and there, before your very eyes for the first time since his untimely death, is the body of Elvis Presley. Oh sure, Elvis ain’t as limber as he once was — he has to be propped up by a few sticks, he’s surrounded by maggots, and his arm falls off halfway through “Heartbreak Hotel” — but there’s just no mistaking the unmistakable aura of the King.
I’m not saying Elvis would be easy to work with. Like Bob Dylan, he will likely refuse to speak with his bandmates, and will sometimes phone in his performances. He might even require his own tour bus (if only to keep the temperature below 20 degrees Fahrenheit and to contain the smell of rotting flesh). Still, Elvis wouldn’t be one of those celebrities who think it’s beneath them to publicize his work. A born salesman and showman, Presley would be a natural for the modern talk show circuit.
INTERVIEWER: Elvis, I’ve always been an admirer of your music, but the movies? Not so much. Tell me a little bit about the making of Spinout.
ELVIS: [Silence. Finger falls off.]
INTERVIEWER: I understand it’s a sensitive topic. I’ll move on.
Elvis will be receptive to negotiation and compromise (“Elvis, you don’t mind if I take more than my usual 10%, do you?”), and there will be throngs of loyal fans dying to see him in the flesh (even if that flesh is green-ish and pungent). Think of the business opportunities: $1,000-a-plate “Dinners with Elvis”… whole new lines of post-death merchandise… maybe even a new album (if you rub Elvis’ skull against the mic to the beat). Best of all, for the final concert, there could be a raffle to determine who gets the remaining bits of Elvis that haven’t decomposed while on tour. Yes, dear fan, you too could be going home with a little bit of Elvis.
But why stop there? Imagine Bogart in the long-awaited Casablanca 2. Imagine Babe Ruth back at Yankee Stadium for one more season, if only to throw out the first pitch? How inspiring would it be, in these times of dire economic struggle, to once again be swept up in the inspiring story of Seabiscuit? Even as I speak, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve is set to ink a seven-figure deal with Dick Clark, whose surge in popularity following his death has left him more energized than he’s felt in years.
Folks, it’s a brave new world — a land of opportunity where only the power of your dreams, and not your metaphysical state, can determine where you go in life. It’s 2012, for god’s sake. It’s time for us to symbolically acknowledge out post-death America and put whatever’s left of Abraham Lincoln back in the Oval Office. Heck, I can almost hear President Lincoln’s inspiring words right now. “Never give up. It doesn’t matter whether you’re rich or poor, black or white, dead or alive. Let nothing stand in the way of your dreams.”