The tour started at 10:30. A shuttle over to the grounds, the house looked small. A small Southern farm plopped down in the middle of the busy streets of Memphis. Compared to the mansions of the “stars” of today, the house was no bigger than some I see around Greensboro. But Elvis loved it. As materialistic as you think he was, he really … wasn’t.
The tour (self-guided) was crowded, but I enjoyed it -- immensely. Strolling around and through his home was surreal. I wondered if he could see us, invading Graceland, and if he’d rather that we … not.
But … the first glimpse of the inside, (think avocado green, orange, shag carpet, red velvet, white fur beds, and eight track tapes) totally 60s and 70s décor, was in a word … TACKY. But that was the period of the day we lived in back then. We were all tacky. Every last one of us. Elvis was just a little more flamboyant about his tackiness. He loved his home. You could feel it.
The man had more money than Donald Trump … he could’ve sold and bought homes all over the world. Each one a little bigger than the last. But not Elvis. Memphis was home to him. The poolroom, the stables, the jungle room, (oh Lord, it looked like a bunch of wild animals had been laid to rest in there, their skins covering the gaudiest looking furniture I’ve ever seen in my life.) But it reflected a life so far removed from the mainstream.
The whole house and grounds is now a national landmark. Can you imagine how Lisa Marie must feel; knowing her family home is a national landmark? Her home, a virtual museum? But Elvis represents a generation of men and women; some of us still babies when he made his first hit record. I remember him best as a man recreating himself in the 70s in Las Vegas, white leather jumpsuits, sweaty faces, and middle-aged spread. Yet Elvis was more than that. A gifted musician, a philanthropist, a giver of cars/homes/help, he wanted to be loved as he loved, adored as he adored others, and needing peace ... he went back to his roots ... his first love of Gospel and Country and Blues ... and Graceland.
I don’t think people like Elvis were ever meant to see old age. Elvis, John Lennon, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Natalie Wood … I don't believe these beauties could handle aging. They were here for their time. A short time, but it revolved around them at the height of their careers and the prime of their lives. When they were the most beautiful. And when their lights went out, the world stood still for a moment. The rest of us ... remain to age.
Elvis lives everywhere … today … you can see it in the mourners filing past his grave. A beloved man, his music – groundbreaking … his life – a legend. (Note to tourists ... please do the rest of us a favor and DON'T take your children under 18 to Graceland. They don't understand it, and unless they behave, they ruin the moments for the rest of us who pay to see it!) But then of course, I believe that applies to taking children ANYWHERE in public. Another blog subject for another time ... perhaps.
A quick stop at Burke’s Book Store in Memphis (close to downtown.) Another older store, but quick with character as soon as you enter. Thousands of titles, established and easy to find, I felt at home immediately. I gave my book and press kit to a kind manager, who seemed … rather interested … I guess.
He was friendly, that was good and I can only hope this awesome store orders my awesome book. But only God will know that, in the end. They did, however, steer us to a great place for lunch … Huey’s! A local lunchtime bonanza. Sandwiches, burgers, red beans and rice, lots of great stuff. A local favorite, the place was packed.
Tonight … I’m off to a gala event for authors at a fancy/schmancy place on Beale Street. Tomorrow morning … we head back to Knoxville, and then home. I’ve not opened my email in a week. God help me.
Blessings to you and yours.