Memphis: Graceland, Sun Studios, and more
This article was submitted by fellow traveller, Ron (who selected “Ronnie Lee” as his Memphis name). Thanks for submitting it, Ronnie!
A good time was had by all on our recent sojourn to Memphis. After sampling some BBQ ribs and taking in the neon lights of Beale Street the night before, we found ourselves exploring the King’s home in all is grandeur. And it was quite a scene as we explored every room in Graceland, with our highly coveted VIP passes hanging around our necks. The Jungle Room, the TV room, and kitchen were all universal favorites with our group. As Wendy Ann noted, the decor is frozen in time. A very garish and gaudy time that is.
The tour took us all through the house (with the exception of the upstairs). I was tempted to sneak up the steps when no one was looking but I decided against it when I considered the fact that security would probably kick me out. The tour ended, after taking us through numerous rooms and additions to the house, at the Mediation Garden where the King, his parents, and grandmother are buried. We then moved to the front of the line when we heard “All VIPs come this way” to the VIP shuttle. Before getting on the shuttle we posed for a picture in front of the mansion.
We then explored Elvis’ private jets, one of which is called the Lisa Marie, and checked out his extensive car collection before enjoying some fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. And man oh man, they were tasty. We then explored, and made many purchases, at the gift shops. There were only seven (7) shops to choose from so we were somewhat limited in the memorabilia department.
From there we headed to Sun Recording Studios, the “birthplace of Rock-n-Roll”. This was my favorite part of the trip. I mean, this little recording studio is literally where it all began.
It was in this little studio that Sam Phillips, with a meager budget and a staff that consisted of one person (a secretary named Marion), produced the most influential records in history. Mr. Phillips encouraged local talent to come record in his studio and encouraged their innovative and novel approaches to music.
The studio itself was built by Mr. Phillips in an effort to attain the best acoustics. The room is filled with musical instruments, some used by the original Sun artists. There are also black X’s on the floor marking the spots where a young Elvis and his band stood while recording. In fact, our tour guide informed us that Bob Dylan, while visiting the Studio, kissed the spot where Elvis stood. This prompted Drew to do the same.
It is simply astounding to think that, for whatever reason, the confluence of country, blues, jazz and gospel created a new sound, a uniquely American sound, within these four walls.
After our tour of the studios we headed back to the hotel and then to Beale Street for dinner and drinks. Dinner was a delicious selection of ribs, catfish, red beans and rice, fried green tomatoes, and other “fixin’s”. We then listened to some music and enjoyed the rest of Beale Street before heading back.
A good time was indeed had by all.