Attention! Dead Come back to Life in L.A.

This image of Elvis Presley (1935-1977) was taken from Vanity Fair.


Despite his death at the age of forty-two in 1977 (sadly, he's really dead), Elvis Presley is one of many celebrities whom have been spotted after their death in the city of Los Angeles, California. Keeping that in mind, people living all over the globe made claims to have seen Elvis, or even celebrities such as Michael Jackson and Jim Morrison after their deaths. Sightings of Elvis Presley have been a recurring claim since his death, in August of 1977. Considering this is a popular culture phenomenon in itself, American rock band Good Charlotte referenced this idea in their 2007 mega hit, "The River" which features M. Shadows and Synyster Gates of Avenged Sevenfold (A7X).

Listen here:

Attention! Dead Come back to life!

Although the 2007 track "The River" highlights various key themes, one of which can be interpreted as an allusion to Jesus Christ performing a baptism in the New Testament, the track itself effectively juxtaposes the reality of actually making it as a star in Los Angeles. For instance, sometimes people have these idealistic fantasies of moving to L.A. and becoming a star. Moreover, the city itself becomes the subject of romanticism (thank you, William Wordsworth). Something people are quick to forget, perfection does not exist. The romanticised version of the city of Los Angeles if often a subject of fantasy, considering that Los Angeles is like any other city- it has its significant problems.

I have a few friends that live in Los Angeles, and they have mentioned on several occasions the high crime rate- which makes Los Angeles similar to many other cities in the world. In terms of the narrative "The River" offers to audience members, we must consider that it's very much expressed as a form of refreshment.

"The song impacted radio on January 23, 2007. There are several references to the Bible throughout the song and the overall time of the song is three minutes and sixteen seconds, intentionally to reference John 3:16." (

Although the reference to John 3:16 is clear through analysis of the lyrics, "The River" alludes to several popular references within the track's lyrical content. Whenever I listen to this particular track, the following lines have always stood out to me:

"You're from a small town, you're gonna grow up fast

Underneath these lights

Down in Hollywood on the boulevard

The dead come back to life" (Joel and Benji Madden, 2007)

Former lead singer of the American rock band The Doors, Jim Morrison (1943-1971) is among many celebrities to have been spotted in L.A. (Image taken from

"The dead come back to life," what does that even mean?

Benji and Joel Madden are doing something quite comedic here. In terms of the track's lyrics, the Madden Brothers are deliberately referring to the claims people have made since the death of singers like Jim Morrison and Elvis Presley during the 1970s, that they have, in fact, seen them in L.A. Interestingly, if there were any validity to these claims there is a plausible explanation. Nevertheless, this idea also proves that Los Angeles is far from perfection, yet is frequently romanticised in the media.

Former WWE Superstar The Honky Tonk Man was a popular heel (villain) during the 1980s. His reign as WWE Intercontinental Champion is the longest in history, at 454 days. Furthermore, this particular character is a reference to musicians from the 1950s- especially Elvis Presley.

Credit: WWE

How often have you seen Elvis cosplay? It happens everyday. Of course, Morrison and Presley have unfortunately left us. However, there's something more important going on here. Those, whom of which, dress as dead celebrities such as Jim Morrison and Elvis Presley- this is an ultimate honour to their legacy. Despite neither man living to fifty years of age, singers such as Jim Morrison and Elvis Presley changed the face of music forever. For that, we thank them.

(c) The Modernist Son, 2020-2021


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