Sunday, April 6, 2014

Elvis's Graceland… Gotta Do It

          Graceland.  It’s not your standard mansion tour. You travel to Graceland not to ooh and aah over opulence or to be impressed by material wealth, as tourists do when visiting the mansions of Newport, Rhode Island.  
          No, you go to Graceland so you can walk where Elvis walked, so you can be where Elvis was, so you can see where Elvis lived—and where he died.  You go to Graceland to immerse yourself in the legend that was Elvis.


Elvis purchased this large house on 13 acres of land for ~$100,000 in 1957.
Now, $100,000 buys little more than a fixer-upper in a bad part of town.
Actually, Graceland is in a bad part of town; the area of Memphis
surrounding the estate has fallen into sad disrepair.
         Does grandeur exist in the home Elvis purchased at the age of 22?  Oh sure—stained glass panels and a grand piano in the stunning all-white living room, a crystal chandelier in the dining room, intricately hand-carved furniture in the family/music room.  But the home also appears much as it must have on August 16, 1977—aging appliances in the kitchen, shag carpet in the family room, a rusted swing set in the back yard. 

          Lisa Marie narrates part of the audio tour and—with reminiscences exclusive to a nine-year-old's memory—her voice radiates pride and wonder as she relates tales of a home overflowing with the presence of her famous father, a place teeming with music and merriment.

Lisa Marie remembers her father entertaining guests in the living room, and she remembers lively "jam" sessions around the piano.

Elvis's final resting place.

         The tour’s final stop is Elvis’s gravesite in the side yard by the pool.  Elvis died at the age of 42.  At the time I thought he was impossibly old.  But now it seems so tragically young.
          The next time you’re in Memphis take a few hours to visit Graceland and absorb the aura of this near mythical entertainer.  You’ll gain a new appreciation for Elvis and his music, and for the high price of fame.
          Graceland.  Gotta do it.  And I’m glad I did.


After the tour, you can add your dollars to the Presley estate by purchasing souvenirs in the gift shop.  I picked up a key chain and a few post cards, shown above.  As per the card in the upper left corner, Elvis was known for his love of peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
Here's a quick quiz:  Can you name one single favorite sandwich of any popular entertainer today?