Thursday, January 3, 2008

Graceland And Sun Studios!

So yesterday (Wed. for those of you keeping track at home), Alison and I were in Memphis where we went to Graceland and to the legendary Sun Studios. We geeked out on tourist nonsense, and did the whole deal - a tour of the mansion, a tour of Elvis' cars, a peek at the Elvis car collection museum and more. We even booked ourselves a room at the Heartbreak Hotel (it wasn't very good, but it was literally at the end of Lonely Street). Here's a few random pictures and a few random thoughts to go with them (I took over 250 pictures yesterday, these are only a few obviously - time permitting, I'll post more once we're in NYC this weekend).

The tour bus takes you right up to the front door of the mansion. It's smaller than you'd probably expect, but very pretty. It's an old school colonial home on 18 acres of land that Elvis bought for $100,000.00 when he was 22 years old! It was likely quite serene then, now it's surrounded by liquor stores and used car dealerships.

The main door takes you into the sitting room. You can't get too close to anything in the home, for obvious reasons they don't want you to touch anything, but it was neat to see that the whole place was done up for the Holidays with Christmas stuff everywhere. I kinda liked how this shot turned out. I like the colors in it and the way you can note the peacocks in the stained glass. This was a pretty classy room.

Alison peeks at one of the hundreds of gold and platinum certified albums on display in one of the rooms outside the mansion. There's an insanely impressive collection at the museum and it really drives home just how many records Elvis sold and continues to sell long after his death.

Elvis was a man of many suits. Many strange, wonderfully garish suits. Many of which are really amazingly ornate once you get a chance to see them up close.

Visiting the gravesite where Elvis lies buried with his mother, father, brother and grandmother, is a pretty sombre experience. Fans from all over the world visit the site and leave mementos and even hand written notes expressing their appreciation for Elvis and his music. It might sound corny, and in a way it probably is, but it's really hard not to get a little choked up.

From Graceland we went down to Beale Street and then to Union Street where we took a tour of Sun Studios. It was pretty amazing to stand where people like Elvis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded their first albums and basically made music history. The studio is small and simple but you can feel a neat vibe when you go into the room.

Another shot that turned out to my liking. This is 'the mic.' You can see it in all sorts of photographs taken in the studio during its boom days and it is the very microphone that Elvis, Johnny and the rest recorded their vocals with. Amazingly enough, the tour guides will let you tinker around with it. None of the studio, save for the control room, is off limits. You can touch the guitars, amps, mics and what not and tinker around with them. You can even rent the studio and all the gear inside for $85 an hour and cut your own record if you want.

So yeah, Memphis was neat. We got kinda lost at one point and ended up on a scary side of town but we made it back alive and got some ribs and some beers so all is well that ends well. We hit the Goner Records store (got a Thor album and the Smokey and the Bandit soundtrack LP!) and toured around a little.

We spent today in Nashville, meaning we'll get back to NYC on Sat. instead of Friday but that's fine with both of us. We hit the Country Music Hall of Fame, a weird Willy Nelson Museum, an equally weird Dukes of Hazzard Museum and bought stuff at Ernest Tubb's Record Store but it's late and I haven't downloaded today's pictures yet. Tomorrow. For now... TV.... bed.

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