Thursday, August 09, 2012


Ever since I watched some of those midday movies with Elvis and his super smooth moves, and dreamy voice, I have wanted to check out Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. The home of Elvis was the main reason for a weekend trip down to the Southern American state 2 weeks ago.

Arriving at Graceland and purchasing a ticket for the tour of the estate, I was allotted a time slot for the mini-bus across the road to the house. In the meantime, in the heat and to avoid the crazy line of tourists, I took in some of the other museum rooms, before my ticket was called up.

Given a self-guiding audio equipment, I was loaded into the bus and taken across the road, through the famous Graceland gates, and up to the front door. The audio tour began, and told us that Elvis brought this house when he was just 22 years of age, for his family to live in, for just over $100,000, just as his stardom was taking off. Wow! What was I doing at 22 again??

Instructed to follow along with the audio device, the busload was showed into the front door, and we started with the front room with the stained glass windows and piano.

Shown his parents' room downstairs by following the guide attached to my ear, guests of Graceland are not actually taken upstairs to Elvis' private rooms. The live guide standing in this area relayed that he was a very private person in life, in terms of his family and private life, and thus this is still respected today.

The guide instructed me to walk through the dining room, all decked out, and into the fairly modest kitchen. With very 70s trimmings, the audio feed informed me that there was always food available in this room as people came and went within the house. Next was the Jungle Room, the sitting room decked in animal and greenery - all wood and fur fittings!

Downstairs to the basement level, the guide in my ear told me about the room with Elvis' music collection and the mirrored ceiling. This room had 3 televisions added side by side when The King saw that President Johnson kept up with the news with such a set up, according to the voice in my ear.

Making my way outside to the backyard, the guide took me through Vernon's office out the back, which broadcasts a cute little grab of an interview Elvis did when he returned from his military service. He advised it's best to toe the line in the Army...and dodged a question from the media scum about leaving a heart behind!

Back out into the Memphis heat and past Lisa Marie's swing set in the yard, the walkway took me along the fence of the stables before reaching the trophy building. Here, as Elvis sang about being a Hunk of Burning Love on the audio feed, I took in the vast array of musical career hits and awards. This building also took me past the movie works, the wedding outfits of Elvis and Priscilla, and then the return to stage with the '68 Comeback Special.

The final two stops at the Graceland mansion are the Racquetball Room and the Meditation Garden, where his gravesite and those of his family, are.

The sports court has an adjoining sitting room, where my audio guide relayed instances of group jam sessions and people watching racquetball through the glass wall to the full size court - and also that Elvis spent time at the piano in here on his last day. The racquetball court is now a shrine to the music of The King, with posthumous awards from all over the world, including a few ARIAs, and his array of costumes from Vegas shows. In here a screen plays a full live song, which I stopped for and watched in awe.

The audio guide speaks of Elvis' prescription drug issues, and reminded me of his untimely death at just 42. Heart failure, the voice in my ear reminded me, in the year I was born. This delivery gave me a heavy heart as I walked out into the Meditation Garden, and past the burial sites of the Presleys.

This visit gave me a renewed love of the music and the man that was Elvis Presley. The strong sense of family is here to see in his provision of everything he and his could need. A feeling of sadness at the journey Elvis' life took, and succumbed too, filled me before a sense of delight sparked as one of his amazing hits filled my car from a local radio station as I drove away.

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