By the time my mom, dad and I finished the official tour of Graceland, it was early afternoon and the sun had reached its peak. As the three of us stood in line to get back on the shuttle bus to cross Elvis Presley Boulevard, I began to reflect on my experience inside his home. I must admit, I have never been too crazy about the King of Rock. If anyone was like a kid in a candy shop on this visit, it was my father who had lived sixty-two years in anticipation of setting foot inside the infamous Jungle room.
Walking in the front door, I can safely say I never expected what lay inside. There is no question the man’s taste in interior design was second to none. Every room exploded with life; which was ironic considering each floor was shrouded in death. The overarching effect made touring his home feel like breaking in to an abandoned amusement park. You could hear the bass notes vibrate on the Grand Piano in the living room like the rumble of a roller coaster tumbling by.
Once we returned to the main centre, we completed a tour of his two private jets as well as his vintage car collection. I don’t remember very many details about this part of the trip except for the fact that I kept getting lost in a maze of Gift Shops. Looking back now, I am quite shocked that I didn’t manage to come home with at least one sequined shot glass or a guitar-shaped key chain with my name on it. I suppose I was saving my dollar bills for more beer.
Fast-forward three hours later, and our story picks up in downtown Memphis with the addition of two new characters: my sister and her Kiwi partner Lachlan. The two of them had flown all the way from Tokyo to attend my cousin’s wedding. After flying in to Atlanta, Georgia they braved the Deep South locked safely inside the four doors of a Toyota Corolla. In the spirit of dramatic family reunions, the five of us shed tears of joy in front of the reception desk at the Marriot Pinnacle.
When one quarter of your family lives in Asia and the other half lives on the Prairies, it is important to make every moment together count - and so we did. After a quick shower to wash the sweat off, we got back on the highway and headed straight for Beale Street: the official home of the blues. Walking passed Autozone Park and the famous Peabody Hotel, I grew more and more excited at the sound of live music drifting down the street. My dad had his turn on the Merry-Go-Round and now it was mine.
There was no mistaking Beale Street when we arrived. Compared to the rest of Tennessee it was Sin City and I felt right at home. Dodging one drunk after another, I rejoiced in the fact there was not a Baptist Church in sight. The entire street was lit up with flashing lights and brought to life by street performers, crazy tourists and local musicians. The sidewalks boomed with the bass lines of multiple Blues tracks overlapping one another.
It makes sense that the majority of my memories from the night are somewhat blurred; however I did take home one with me that is clear as gin and I will never forget.
Two-hundred ounces of beer later and I ended up on the dance floor with my lovely mom and sister. I forget the name of the bar we ended up in; but I remember the decision to stay was made as soon as the band took the stage. The bass! The drums! The saxophone! The voice! Every note that left the stage was spilling over with soul. I am not a religious person but this House I could worship.
It took an American double-vodka soda to get my sister on the dance floor, but once the elements united there was no turning back. “Do you remember?” the Earth, Wind & Fire classic began to play, “the twenty-first night of September?” Arms swaying, heads bopping and feet jiving we danced until Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing came on; because then it just became awkward.
To be continued.