Posts Tagged With: Memphis

Never Loved Elvis

I have never been a fan of Elvis. I didn’t have anything against him, but he was a little bit before my time so he was a distant memory. I used to enjoy watching his films on a rainy Sunday afternoon but that was about as far as it went.

And then I visited Graceland today. Wow. What a legend.

The mansion itself, as everyone always says, is fairly small. It’s probably only as large as the posh houses in the street across from where I live. I suspect that’s just a sign of the times that he lived in (and the fact that we live in such disgustingly material times now). However the property has lots of land with outbuildings and horses etc. It’s a real time capsule; I loved a lot of the décor which is incredibly dated now but a real measure of the period it was from. I felt very much at home in the wood-panelled rooms which reminded me of my own childhood home from the seventies/eighties (although we didn’t have green shag carpet on the ceilings). I couldn’t quite work out why he needed three staircases to the upstairs, and two to the basement, but maybe that’s just rock star excess for you. I was disappointed by the pool room, only because I expected to see a swimming pool as I rounded the corner. Sadly there was a pool table. Oh well.

I hadn’t really ever before grasped exactly how much of a massive star he really was. I mean, yes, everyone knows who Elvis was, blah blah. But it’s when you see the stacks and stacks of gold discs and awards that it really hits home. And he never played a concert outside of North America but he remains a global superstar. A pretty massive achievement by any measure.

The thing that really got me is the fact that he frequently gave money to charities and needy people on the quiet. It’s also evident from all his quotes that he was always very respectful and incredibly grateful for his success and this is probably why he was always so ready to share his good fortune. What a lovely guy.

It also doesn’t hurt that actually he was fairly easy on the eye. I’d never really appreciated that before.

So for a couple of non-believers it was pretty moving to finally see his grave and pay our respects. It was totally worth the three hour drive out of our way to Memphis.

I learned three things today.

Elvis was born 19 days after my mother.

The 68 Special Elvis is my favourite Elvis.

And, above all, Elvis was a top bloke.

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Walking in Memphis – DUCK!!

A nice easy drive to Memphis from Nashville (especially for me, I was the passenger/navigator). And, middle-aged though it sounds, I must say the rest stop on the interstate was lovely. It’s not often you find a nice clean public toilet like that. And now I sound like my mother.

Sadly I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo of the sign for Dude Ranch as we sped by. I don’t know what happens there, but I sure want to go and find out.

On arrival in Memphis we went for a potter around Beale Street, which is pretty much required for any visit to the city. It’s like a very miniature version of Bourbon Street in New Orleans and is not quite in the same league but it’s nice all the same. We paid a visit to the Gibson Guitar Factory along with a few other landmarks on the way. Memphis also has a lot of abandoned and disused warehouses and factories which are a magnificent, if slightly eerie, sight. And yet again we took a potter down to the banks of the Mississippi, just to check it was still around as we hadn’t seen it since Louisiana.

However, the highlight of the day was a visit to the Peabody Ducks. They are “world famous” but I think that’s meant in the same way that the Superbowl winners are “world” champions, i.e. it only actually counts in the USA. The Peabody is one of those lovely classy old hotels that still have doormen in top hats. For eighty years it has also had its own flock of ducks. They live in their own penthouse suite on the roof of the hotel. At 11am daily they are led downstairs to the lobby by their Duckmaster (in the lift and then along their own red carpet, no less) to the fountain where they spend 6 hours swimming and splashing around. At 5pm the Duckmaster leads them back up to their penthouse for the night. We went along to witness the 5pm retreat. It’s a lovely spectacle. I know it sounds a bit rubbish to say that I went to see five ducks get out of a fountain and walk along a red carpet, but it really is an entertaining diversion. We also went up to see their penthouse with its spectacular views across the city. Lucky ducks.

We spent a little while in one of the Peabody’s bars for their very welcoming happy hour. We seem to be making a habit of staying in the cheaper hotels but spending our time partaking of the hospitality in the posher hotels. A most agreeable way to holiday, if you ask me.

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