Today I :
...cried because Elvis died.
...saw the sun where stars were made.
...walked with my feet ten feet off of Beale.
...heard the ring, the ding and the zing.
(extra credit if you can tell me what those last two references are from.)
Today was let's be a tourist day. I woke up at 7:00am (which is nothing to sneeze at when you went to sleep at 1:30am because Pretty Woman was on HBO) and sorted out my day. I knew what I wanted to do but had to work out logistics. I'm usually a go by the seat of my pants kind of gal but today required a bit of planning and looking back on it I think I did a damn fine job...a damn fine job indeed.
First stop was Graceland. When I was planning my trip I knew I wanted to go to Asheville NC to see Eli and to Wichita KS to see my dearly beloved PJ - but I needed a stop in between. Pigeon Forge TN was on the list (I'll let you figure out why) but Memphis had more to offer (sorry Julie) and it was more of a half way point. So of course Graceland was a must see. It was cool, but I'm not sure I was all that blown away. It seemed very much like an amusement park in the way they shuffled you around from "attraction to attraction" and even shuttled you to the actual Graceland estate. Getting there right when they opened and being there in the off season really made this a more enjoyable tour though. I could tell by they way it was set up that they usually have way more people. I appreciated not having to use my elbows to get a decent view of things (which I'm not above doing). I understand people from all over the world come out to see this Historic Landmark and I know they need to accommodate them. It just took some of the magic away for me. The house was interesting and it was really moving to imagine Elvis sitting on that couch, or playing that piano and I also got to go inside his personal jets. I did embarrass myself and teared up a bit at his gravesite. Even if you don't like his music you have to admit he was incredibly talented* - and he died far too young. This year he would have been 75.
After Graceland I took the shuttle back to my hotel and picked up my car and drove to Sun Studio where Elvis was "discovered" and other greats like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and others recorded. It was incredible to stand in the room where some of my favorite musicians recorded some of my favorite songs. At the end of the tour everyone was having a friend take their pictures with the famous microphone used in the recording sessions. Except me - I just took a picture of the microphone. I'm realizing that while traveling alone you need to get creative if you want to be in any of the pictures you take (see above).
(The large photo in the far right of this picture was taken in that exact spot - you can make out the soundproofing tiles that are the same ones still hanging on the wall today)
Following Sun Studio I drove to downtown Memphis and checked out Beale Street. A short but awesome street with lots and lots of music, food and neon signs. I went to the B.B.King Blues Club and got myself a famous BBQ sandwich and a beer and watched live music for about an hour. It was awesome. My waiter was totally great and introduced me to the next act - a 17 year old who was incredible on guitar and had a great voice. He was backed up by a drummer, bassist and piano player one of which was the father to some American Idol contestant - I don't remember which one.
Once I left the restaurant I walked around for about thirty minutes then hopped on a trolley to the arts district and visited the galleries. I also took the Riverfront Trolley that took me and a few others down to the Mississippi River and through some fancy neighborhood. At one point the trolley conductor (driver? steerer?) started singing Blue Christmas all Elvis - like into the speaker. It really made me feel like I was somewhere new - completely different from the T's in Boston. If anyone is ever in this part of the country Beale street is a must and a ride on the trolleys.
Now I'm back at my hotel, in bed and gearing up for the big drive to Wichita tomorrow.
Thanks for reading!
*And sweet lookin'
*And sweet lookin'