Elvis has left the building.

Did you find the secret message in the last post?  Well today we were up bright and early and were eating breakfast at the time we were just waking up yesterday which means we got to Graceland nice and early.  It was a gorgeous day – sunny skies, a nice gentle breeze and about 80 degrees.  A great day to tour Graceland.

Graceland is beautiful – 13.5 acres in Memphis that has mature trees and beautiful landscaping (of course). There are also 4 horses that live at Graceland – Elvis loved his horses and had 3 Tennessee Walkers and one palomino – so they estate has ensured that there are always horses and there is always a palomino on the premises. Elvis bought Graceland when he was 21 for $100,000 – a pretty steep price in 1957. He lived there for the last 20 years of his life.

The house is fabulous. Gaudy? Maybe. But remember it was decorated by a 21 year old guy with pretty eclectic tastes and a very, very colourful personality.  This shone through in every room: the formal living room with the peacocks in stained glass, the ‘man cave’ that was yellow and white with the entire ceiling mirrored, the billiards room that is entirely covered in pleated cloth (seriously – it’s like being inside a big ottoman…) to the jungle room with heavy wooden furniture, plants and a fountain. You really need to see this to get the full impact. I loved it.  Then we went outside and saw the pool and the office his dad had where Elvis Presley Enterprises was run.  We toured his personal squash court (it was just a squash court), and then we went to the meditation garden where the King is laid to rest.

The meditation garden is quite beautiful really – there is a fountain and an eternal flame, a wall with more stained glass, shrubs and flowers, exactly what you would expect to see at the resting place of a much loved celebrity. Elvis is buried with his mom Gladys, his father Vernon, and his grandma Minnie Mae. I did not know that Elvis had an identical twin brother, Jesse Garon Presley, who was stillborn. His twin brother is also buried in the Meditation Garden.

After we were done at Graceland, we took the shuttle back to the grounds across the street from the mansion.  I am not quite sure what to say about this area. It houses museums and souvenir shops, his jumpsuits and cars, a sweet shop and a restaurant: it’s quite the place and provides more insight into Elvis.  The mansion seemed to be a place of reverence really, a place where fans come to see how Elvis lived, get a sense of how he was with his family, when he wasn’t being scrutinized under the bright light of fame. The place across the road though really is the bright light of fame – so much info about Elvis the singer, the actor, the commodity. The souvenirs you can buy are amazing – everything from Elvis blankets to Elvis kitchen ware.  Seriously. You can buy Elvis oven mitts. Actually you can get his name or face on just about anything.  While I did indeed buy a few Elvis Souvenirs (yes family, you won’t be disappointed!) it made me a little sad to see how commercialized it had become.  Of course, Warren pointed out that Elvis did really love his fans and was a bigger than life personality, so he might have delighted in all the fuss.  Who knows?

Once we’d seen all of that, we headed out to take a look at Elvis’ private planes.  He had a large plane for taking many people on – it has a living room, sleeping quarters, a dining room, a bedroom for Elvis and a bedroom for guests.  Quite a big plane and of course detailed in leather, suede and gold plate.  The other plane was smaller and this was the one that he took for spontaneous trips:  when he realized that his daughter, Lisa Marie, had not seen snow, he had the plane fired up and they flew to Colorado so she could play in the snow for 20 minutes… then they flew back home. I thought that was pretty impressive till I remembered that Warren and I drove to Mississippi for steak yesterday.  Warren says it’s not exactly the same thing but I think it is 😉

After we’d seen everything there was to see at Graceland we climbed back into Ursula (some of us more wearily than others) and after a short rest, headed down to Beale Street.  Beale street is one of those places that is bigger than the 3 blocks it actually spans.  There is something to look at or listen to on every inch of that street.  Music emanates from every business, tributes to icons like Betty Paige and BB King are everywhere as, of course, are pictures, shirts, and souvenirs of Elvis.  We wandered down the street until we heard the music of a live band coming from a courtyard just off the street. We were treated to the blues by a band called Blues Express.  They were really awesome and the lead singer was a scamp – singing to individuals in the crowd and flirting with the ladies. The music was excellent and we sat for quite a while taking it all in.

It was also Motorcycle Wednesday on Beale street – a tradition where all the bikers in town come and line Beale from one end to the other.  DSCN1268.JPGIt was loud and busy and quite amazing. By the time we had walked up one side and down the other we were very ready to head back to the truck and go find some supper.  Warren delighted in telling me that we had logged over 9000 steps today. My feet had already indicated that we’d had quite a walk but it was good to know that they weren’t wrong.

We headed off to Central BBQ for some BBQ (of course) and some more live music.  This band wasn’t quite as good as the music we’d been treated to on Beale – they played the Bear Necessities from the Jungle book… but it was still wonderful to sit out in the warm evening air with my sweetheart, listening to the music and eating some fine Memphis BBQ.

Tomorrow we are thinking of touring the Gibson factory and maybe taking a cruise on the Memphis Belle!

Stay tuned!

S&W

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It wasn’t my fault.

Today we woke up late.  Now, I’m not blaming anyone because that’s just not the adult thing to do. We’ll just assume We had A Reasonable REasoto be late, ok? When we DID finally get outside we diScovered that it was raining and Late and wE decided to PosTpone  Graceland today. We’re flexIble persoNs.

After a quick breakfast at the ihop (come on,  you knew that’s what would be next) we went to Sun Records – the birthplace of Rock and Roll!  I was surprised at how tiny the premises were – given the fact that this was where music changed forever, I expected something a little more momentous. Our guide was really fantastic – her name was Lana and she was full of info about the history of the place and also very funny.  We started out in the museum upstairs from the studio where we learned about the evolution of rock, then we got to go downstairs to the actual studio where all the music was recorded. It was pretty amazing to be standing in the same room where Elvis recorded his first song ‘Happiness’, and where Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins and Elvis jammed together.  There were little pieces of history everywhere: guitars that were used in various recordings lined up against the wall, the upright bass that was used in so many songs, and the drum kit from U2 when they recorded Rattle & Hum at Sun Records in the ’90’s.  The ‘x’ where Elvis stood to record his music is still on the floor, as is his microphone – we have pictures but they aren’t cooperating – I’ll add them tomorrow.

After the tour and traditional T-shirt purchasing, we decided to go for a drive – it was still too rainy to go for a walk (according to Sandy’s whines…)  So we zoomed across the state line to fill the truck and to say we’d been to Arkansas.  Then we went back to Tennessee and headed to the mall – what else can you do on a rainy day? After spending too much at Pandora and Dilliard’s we headed back to our end of town to start looking for a supper place.  Because Warren is pretty cool, he suggested we go have steaks in Mississippi.  Why not?  So we zipped to Mississippi to a steak house and had dinner.  So: Breakfast in Tennessee, gassed up the truck in Arkansas, and had supper in Mississippi.  A three state day  🙂

So tomorrow really will be our visit to Graceland and I guarantee we’ll get up on time because, hey, we have to see the home of the King before we leave Memphis!

Stay tuned!

S&W

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Goin’ to Graceland!

With a bit of a sad heart we said Goodbye to Nashville – a place that will hold some amazing memories for us. What a week it has been: an amazing concert, meeting a long time musical hero, and spending an evening at the Grand Ole Opry – and we got to do all of it together. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

After a day of meandering through the Tennessee countryside, music on the radio, watching the world roll by, we arrived in Memphis.  It is a different city than Nashville is: a bit poorer, a bit smaller, a totally different vibe.  The feel here is a bit more gritty, from the downtown the city moves much more quickly to poverty than Nashville did. The drive from the downtown to Graceland is through a very poor part of town – something I’m sure was not the case when Elvis bought his estate back in 1957.

We toured the downtown in our truck – drove past Beale Street and the Gibson factory – we’ll do a walking tour of these on Wednesday – but tomorrow is reserved for Graceland.  We stopped outside the gates tonight and got a few pictures of Graceland after dark – it’s beautiful – and there is a stone fence in front that many visitors have signed and dated.  On one hand it is kind of unfortunate that the fence is defaced, but on the other hand it’s pretty amazing to see how many people have come to visit Graceland.

After touring a bit we decided to go for supper and what was on the menu tonight? We decided to try something DSCN1173.JPGdifferent and went to Marlow’s for Bar-B-Q  😉  It was very good – maybe not as good as Martin’s in Nashville, but it was still very good. As Warren says: You can’t go wrong with smoked dead pig. This restaurant has a giant pink pig outside and if you call them, they will send a pink pig limo out to pick you up!  Very cool indeed!

When we were so full we could hardly move, we headed back to the hotel – we need to be well rested for our adventures tomorrow: We’re going to Graceland, Memphis Tennessee  🙂

Stay tuned!

S&W

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