I went to Memphis because I’d heard of it and it was in a state I hadn’t yet explored. I had no idea what was there but someone suggested I go see Graceland. OK. So I parked at a little strip mall right next to Graceland and spared myself $10 parking. Oddly enough I was the only one smart enough to figure this one out. I perused the stores… ELVIS ELVIS ELVIS! And nothing but. So much tacky and garish things… I wandered over to Graceland a few yards away. This place was by far the honkiest place I’ve ever been and likely will ever be, at least I damn well hope so. People swarmed the place and paid $34 a person to see Elvis’ mansion and airplane. Seventy year old women with Elvis tatooes teetered in and out of the gift shops clutching bags filled with glitter and shot glasses. I stared at the postcards… Young Elvis, old Elvis, civilian Elvis, military Elvis, thin Elvis, puffy Elvis, Elvis in normal clothes, Elvis giving a young Elton John some fashion hinters, Elvis, Elvis, Elvis!
I can’t say I was ever that fond of Elvis. Why was I here again? Better yet why is the blasphemous Harley shop down the street listening to Cher? I bought a few postcards, if only so I could write indecent things on them…
While I was looking at the postcards I noticed one said “Beale Street, Home of the Blues!” I insisted on going there to even the honkiness out a bit. So I went to Beale Street, which wasn’t terribly far away, and I noticed immediately it beat Graceland hardcore. There was a voodoo/headshop here, BB King’s Blues Club, lots of places to eat, and music notes like the Hollywood stars lining the sidewalk with notable Bluesmen (and a couple of women.) I took a photo of BB King’s note, and was taken inside by a barker who offered to show me Lucille. So I went in.. and looked at one of four replicas of Lucille. He told me Lucille was BB King’s guitar which he auctioned off for charity, but which 4 replicas were made of. It was signed by all sorts of interesting people and the guy told us how Lucille got her name. Apparently BB King had been in a bar fire. He got out of the burning building only to dive back into it to save his guitar. Later he found out the fire started when two men were fighting over a woman. One smashed open a bottle of booze and threw a match to it. The woman’s name was Lucille and if Lucille was good enough to fight over than that was the perfect name for the guitar!
I had a soda and chatted up the bar tender for awhile. Being a hot day with little people in here he seemed happy to talk. He’d done a number of interesting travels in his own day and I compared notes. I gave him a few ideas of where to go next. I left soon after to catch the parking meter. All and all it was a fun street with friendly down to earth people. Much better than Graceland. Less creepy too. A lot less creepy. Especially the voodoo shops. I’ll take those over eighty year women in skin tight leopard spots any day.
After Memphis I went to Nashville… why? Because. I went to find the Grand Ole Opry, again just to say I’ve been there as country music is yet another thing I’m not fond of (for the most part – a little Cash is always good though…) I found out it was currently being swallowed by a shopping mall that was being built and for the most part was gated and fenced off. The rest was blocked by trees. Whatever. I left not too broken hearted.
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