Friday, June 17, 2011

Tour de Memphis

I was 12 years old and in 6th grade when I first heard about Elvis Presley. Someone in my class brought one of his records to school (Hound Dog? Jailhouse Rock?) and we dragged the portable record player out to the school yard during recess and played the 45 rpm, danced to it, and even swooned a little ... although we really had no idea who this guy was or why everyone was so excited about him.  My teacher, Mrs. Rambow, told us we couldn't bring the record in again.  A challenge!  I knew immediately this was someone I would want to know more about.

It took me 55 years to learn more about him and today was that day.  We toured Graceland where he lived and Sun Records where he recorded his first song, and the Rock and Soul Museum where his story is integrated with those of Carl Perkins, Rufus Thomas, Ann Peebles, Jimmie Rodgers (the ORIGINAL, not the "Honeycomb" guy of the 60's) and other musicians of the early Rock 'N Roll/Blues years.  

Graceland is much smaller ... and much tackier ... than we had imagined. Elvis was either color-blind or just plain had bad taste, but any way you look at it, shag carpeting or pleated fabric on the ceiling probably doesn't qualify as "neutral decor" in the eyes of any Realtor.  However, we saw a house that was built and decorated by a man who really wanted to please his family and those around him whom he loved.  The furnishings, the costumes, the cars, the airplanes, the descriptions of what he did for his family and friends all add up to a man who started with nothing, and amassed so much in his lifetime that he didn't know what to do with it .. except to try to gather more. 

Elvis is buried on the grounds of Graceland, along with his mother and father.  I left hoping that he has finally found some peace; however, with all of the millions of people that tramp through his estate every year I wonder if he wouldn't rather be back in his hometown of Tupelo. Rest in peace, Elvis. You were part of my youth and I am happy I visited you.   

This is the very microphone Elvis used
While I loved the Graceland tour, Ed really enjoyed the Sun Records tour.  It is amazing to see  the small building in which so much history has been made. It is still used today as a recording studio and, for a few short minutes, I even dreamed I might make it big as a recording star!  There isn't much to the building. It is a very unassuming small brick structure in a rather shabby part of town.  Actually, much of Memphis is shabby and, if it weren't for Elvis, you wonder what else might draw people down here. 

Dinner tonight was at the legendary BB King's.  Ed loves BB (we've seen him live in concert 3 times) and we thought it fitting to patronize his restaurant before we departed Memphis. The ribs were fabulous. Unfortunately, the entertainment wasn't. BB wasn't on stage of course, but we do wish it would have at least been someone who could sing! We've heard some really good Blues singers while we were here, but this young man wasn't one of them. We'll have to settle for listening to BB on the iPOD as we head north tomorrow.

The weather has been extremely hot both days we have been here, so we are happy to be heading north. We will spend tomorrow night in Naperville, Illinois, meeting our nephew, Charlie, for the first time, having dinner with my brother, sister-in-law, niece and her significant other, before beginning our trip home on Sunday ... at which time, our first postretirement trip will become just a memory.

No comments: