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Published: September 15th 2012
These carriages were everywhere
8th Sept ’12 New Orleans to Memphis, Tennessee
Despite my misgivings Howard managed the drive to Memphis in one go. I think the fact that it was cloudy definitely helped, it’s also cooler so that helps too. We checked into our motel 6 – which had appauling reviews but is in a decent location only a 2 mile bus journey into the town centre and is relatively cheap. The motel is bizarre, it is full of young people all swaggering around or standing in groups by their trucks, god alone knows if we will get any sleep tonight!
Howard decided he was feeling ok so we caught the bus into the town, had some tea and then hit Beale Street. What a fantastic place! It’s not very big but has a great atmosphere, there are bands playing everywhere!! There was a square which had a market going on and a band playing the blues, a couple of people were up dancing and everyone was generally having a good time. There was a monument to Rufus Thomas, the King of Rhythm and Blues and apparently the Funkiest Chicken of the South – so although I had never heard of him
I just had to get a picture of that, what a tribute!!
We then wandered up and down the street, just taking it all in and potching in a couple of shops, however before we could even buy our first pint Howard announced his eye was hurting and so we had to go back to the motel and so here I sit typing the blog when I should be getting down on Beale Street, Debbie we are definitely going to have to do that road trip!
9 – 10th Memphis
So our first full day in Memphis and our first stop was at Sun Studio – the birthplace of Rock and Roll! For a small place it has a big atmosphere, there are photos, records, memorabilia everywhere. We took the tour which was really good fun, got to see lots or original equipment, records and items from the various artists who recorded here including Jackie Brenston’s Rocket 88 – the record credited with being the start of Rock and Roll. Lots of clips of music were played to highlight what was being talked about and what we were seeing, which led to a fair bit of jigging
We went down into the actual studio, which is still in use and again there were photos of musicians and lots of instruments about. We were allowed to use one of the original 50s microphones to take photos with and could stand on the x where all the singers stand for recording which was great! So thoroughly enjoyed the visit, bought the T shirt, took more photos outside and am more than ready for the Elvis experience!!
After Sun Studio we went to the National Civil Rights Museum. This is situated in the Lorraine Motel, there is a large floral wreath outside room 306 which marks where Martin Luther King was shot and killed and the building looks as it did on that day.
We watched a really moving informative documentary ‘The witness on the balcony’ which included excerpts from Martin Luther King’s speeches. The museum was amazing, it really brought home the injustice and the incredible strength and determination of the people involved. It’s hard to sum up the impact it had on me, I learnt a lot and was very moved by it and yet this inequality, injustice and persecution still continues to
this day – just look at the situation in Tibet for one example.
It seemed to be a day of contrasting high emotions.
Then we headed to the Heartbreak Hotel for the night and a good dose of Elvis. We had a walk out as the hotel was right opposite Graceland and we crossed the road to peer over the wall, read some of the thousands of tributes that were written all over the wall and stood by the musical notes gates!
The hotel didn’t quite live up to my expectations, I had expected more Elvis memorabilia to be around but the room was great and the TV had a channel that played Elvis films and documentaries non-stop. So I watched a couple of movies and a documentary just to get in the mood for the next day!
The next morning we walked over to pick up our Platinum Tour tickets and then joined the queue for the shuttle bus over to Graceland and here everything really was about Elvis! The souvenir shops sold everything you could think of with Elvis on them, Elvis music was played everywhere and absolutely everything thing was Elvis themed. People
were dancing about in the queue and singing and the atmosphere was infectious!
The tour of Graceland was really interesting, seeing the rooms just as they were when he was alive, I loved the funky green carpet on the walls and ceiling of the jungle room. The racket ball court was filled with all his gold discs, awards and costumes and you can’t help but admire the man.
The Meditation Garden where Elvis and his families graves are was sunny and simple, the fact that giant floral tributes were placed around it made me really stop and think about how much he is still loved and treasured. You would have thought he had only just died and the tributes were from all over the world.
The house is big but it isn’t huge and the neighbours are close by and it was obvious that Elvis loved the place and loved Memphis which I thought was really touching.
The thing that struck me the most about today was how much people love Elvis – young, old and all the ones in between and everyone was excited and happy to be there. I wouldn’t have said I was
a fan, I didn’t know that much about him before this trip other than as a younger man he was a real hottie and I like some of his early music but I came away really impressed and I would say Elvis is definitely the King of Rock and Roll!
So after being all shook up we drove onto to Tupelo in Mississippi where before checking into our motel we called into the Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum. Again a great little place, none of the razzamatazz of the Graceland experience, just a simple museum chronicling his birth up until the family moved to Memphis.
The house he was born in was a tiny two room building and inside was decorated as it would have been when he lived there. The family were really poor and so it was even more impressive to see how he ended up and yet he never forgot his roots. He paid for a childrens park to be made in area and also made lots of other charitable donations.
I particularly liked the wall where early childhood friends described their memories of Elvis and the things they got up to as boys. We
didn’t get to see inside the church the family attended and where he sang as we had missed the last entry time but what we did see was enough and kind of rounded off the picture of Elvis.
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