US Tour 2003
Graceland – Day 6
Somebody framed me!
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If most of Larry’s plans seem to have gone a skew then possibly the most important aspect of doing this trip has fortunately gone better than planned. The cats have seemed to cope with the trauma of being taken away from their home, locked in a cage daily while being transported for hours at a time and then each night being put in a new location. As each day has passed they have become more confident so that now the black and white cat, Sonia, sits on top of the luggage on the luggage trolley why we go from car to room and visa-versa. This morning as we came out of the room two kids were outside. One asked Larry what the cat was called and when he said “Sonia” one of the boys said, “That’s my mum’s name”, the boys stroked Sonia as we went to the lift, Sonia sitting like a boat’s figure head.
“Scratches! what scratches?”
“Memphis Birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll”
An allusion to the Biblical Memphis?
If I could have I’d have spent a couple of days in Memphis but practicalities couldn’t allow this so my main priority was to see Elvis Presley’s home Graceland.
Although I don’t consider myself to be an Elvis fan now, I was when I was a teenager. Possibly because he epitomised the kind of man I wished I could have been then, plus his songs continual allusions to a romantic idea of relationships meant I was drawn to him. As time went on and more things about Elvis came out I noticed my own divergence away from the formal attitude of Elvis fans, which was one of denial. For me what was coming out was far more interesting and meaningful than the 2 dimensional Elvis being touted. As I grew older (not up just older) I still liked listening to his music but left behind the notion of being a fan. Yet here today I am excited to visit his house to get a glimpse of his world to step into the heady way of the American dream.
If there’s a point I want to make about Elvis it’s this. Elvis was fantastically talented, successful beyond most people’s wildest ambitions, yet even though he was close to his family, and a believer in God he was still unable to deal with his own dark side. No one can really explain why this happened but what you can draw from it is something we all know already, happiness, meaning and peace of mind do not come from the things we expect to provide them, and yet most of us are drawn to these things knowing full well that they are not going to provide the answers.
During the tour of Elvis mansion the guide mentioned that Elvis was an avid reader and would underline sections of books as if he was looking for something. Elvis had love, he had wealth and he had God, so what was missing? My feeling is this, let’s presume he didn’t have any psychological conditions brought on by some sort of biological / chemical condition. Then for me what seemed to be missing was self understanding both by himself and people around him. How can anyone deal with their dark side, their negative feelings, if they don’t understand, at least to a point why they have these thoughts and feelings? When I hear people talking about children saying all they need is love I tend to think that understanding and helping our kids feel understood is just as important. Many people complain that the love they received felt claustrophobic, and the love given did not reflect their own needs. In fact this is a common problem in adult relationships too and is partly behind the rise of self help books that promote communication skills. To feel known by others requires a brave attempt at being honest. Honesty is the route to intimacy and without intimacy we are alone. I believe that Elvis felt deeply unknown and misunderstood and one of the results of his may ways of dealing with this psychological pain was to feel even more isolated. His connection to reality was so fragmented that eventually he lost contact with the world and died. People say that Elvis lives on, but it’s just the image of Elvis that lives on not the person he really was. Trying to immortalise ourselves in order to feel significant is a waste of time. Our feelings of significance come from being truly known by others. Sending images of ourselves in to the future is pointless because we actually have a need to be known by other real humans in our lifetime, anything else is just second rate..
So as I look around Graceland and take in the sentimental clap trap being fed by the guide tape my heart goes out to the lonely Elvis who was not really known by those around him. Some people say that Elvis was very close to his mother but if your mother sets a place at the table each meal time for your twin who died at birth and your mothers love is so all embracing that you dare not step out of line, then how can you be who you really are to those who matter to you. This is all quite heavy stuff and for many people it doesn’t sit well on a page that’s meant to tell us about Elvis, but the thing is I have a hunch that one of the reason’s Elvis’ voice is recognised as being so touching is because deep within it you can feel his loneliness reaching out to your own.
“The bellhop’s tears keep flowing, the desk clerk’s dressed in black.
They been so long on Lonely Street they never will go back
and they’re so lonely, oh they’re so lonely,
they’re so lonely they pray to die.”
From Heartbreak Hotel. (written by: Mae Axton, Tommy Durden, Elvis Presley)
OK if you’ve managed to get this far let’s have a look at the tour.
First stop the motor museum. A pink Cadillac
The wedding costumes
The trophies of success
I included this one because of the picture of Lisa Marie covering her eyes.
Now I get to queue.
Just as I’m about to board the mini bus there’s a fire alarm at Graceland and we’re told to wait.
And just to emphasise the point here’s another picture of the fire engine.
Yehaaaaaaw We get to drive up to Graceland.
As you walk in to the front door you look left to see the dining room.
And to the right is a lounge
Straight on from the front door and next to the staircase is Elvis’ parents room.
We were told we couldn’t go upstairs, which was a great disappointment as we wanted to
see the infamous bedroom and bathroom. Apparently the reason it’s off limits is because hardly anything
has been changed upstairs since Elvis’ death.
I’m sure my Mum had buscuit tins like those ones.
Although some people slam Elvis’ taste, I was quite suirprised by how eclectic it was.
Ok I take back what I just said.
That’s me in the corner!
The Jungle room because it reminded him of Hawaii.
Every school boys fantasy back in the 70’s (Well it was mine)
Notice the state of the Arc hi fi system
A pool room designed to send your opponents in to an epileptic fit.
More tasteful art hidden amidst ………….
A furry bed
An organ even your grandad wouldn’t be seen dead with now days but
at the time they were great fiun. Hit that rumba key and cha cha cha!
Elton and Tom John and Jones, apparently Elvis loved you.
A piece Elvis had on his wall.
Sports wear with short arms …… As Ali G would say “respect”
A model of Evis first home in Tupelo. It actually wasn’t much bigger than this in real life.
The door way to the Garden. Did Elvis ever look down it in the same way?
Hey I’ve got a mirror like this, only mine’s under the bath.
The Presley Family graves in the Meditation gardens.
The grave of Elvis’ twin brother who died during childbirth.
Me in Graceland gardens
Me in the reflection of Elvis’ jet liners bathroom
Elvis’ bedroom in his Jet liner
Journey to Erik Oklahoma
I was aware that we had to be on our way and with severely aching feet I made my way back to the car where Larry was looking after the cats. From this point on we drove solidly, just stopping for food etc……
I took this because we were sitting in a dump of a car park and I could see these trees nearby
The contrast made me think about how you can find beauty in the most unlikely of places and people.
Need Simon say more?
Ok Larry did this one.
And Larry did this one too.