First, I thought it would be nice to take a little break from my Ireland posts to write about something that happened more recently: my family and I visited Memphis, Tennessee for my cousin’s wedding last weekend. So, today and tomorrow I’ll be sharing some of our adventures in fair Memphis, site of Elvis’s mansion, birthplace of the Blues, and home to some seriously hot weather.
Second, the title of this post is not, strictly speaking, 100% accurate. Obviously, I’m not going to Graceland – I already went. However, the entire time I was there I couldn’t get Paul Simon’s song out of my head (what? You thought I’d be singing Elvis songs to myself at Graceland?), and I couldn’t resist quoting it here. Sidenote: can I take a moment to say that Paul Simon is right up there with my all-time favorite musicians? Love, love, love his music. I just had to get that off my chest.
Anyway…Graceland. I had always heard Elvis’s mansion was tacky and over-the-top so, naturally, I wanted to see it for myself. The first thing you should know about a visit to Graceland? It’s not cheap; to get the basic mansion tour, you’ll have to pay $33/ticket. If you want to see more exhibits – such as touring Elvis’s private jet or visiting the collection of his automobiles – you’re looking at $37/ticket. Having forked over the
exorbitant requisite sum of money, we boarded a little shuttle bus that took us right to Elvis’s front door.
We walked inside and began our tour, first passing through the living room, hallway (complete with a large portrait of young Elvis), and dining room:
Then we headed downstairs, where I was delighted to find a room decorated in all blue and gold. That Elvis knew what was up:
(Okay, you can’t tell from the above picture, but I swear it was blue and gold.)
Also downstairs was the oh-so-tasteful billiards room:
We then headed back upstairs and found ourselves in the equally tasteful jungle room:
We exited the main house and headed out back, where some of the buildings on the grounds had been turned into exhibits showcasing Elvis’s gold records and spangled costumes:
Then, we walked to the small graveyard, where Elvis and his parents are buried. The graves were surrounded by lots of bright, bold flowers and wreaths – which didn’t exactly inspire somber reflection, but which seemed fitting nonetheless:
As we left the mansion, we came across a pathway lined with tributes sent from Elvis fans all over the world. I actually found these displays to be one of the most fascinating parts of our visit. Who knew so many Elvis fan clubs were still going strong?
After finishing up at the mansion, we visited some of the exhibits. First up, Elvis’s cars. While I think auto-enthusiasts would love this exhibit, an auto-enthusiast I am not, so this part wasn’t that thrilling to me. Still, you’ve got to love a good pink car:
And finally, we toured Elvis’s plane, the Lisa Marie. His jet was quite swanky and spacious – my favorite feature were the 14 karat gold seatbelt buckles.
So, would I recommend a visit to Graceland? Honestly, I’m not sure. On the one hand, I’m sure Elvis-enthusiasts would find it fascinating. And for those of us who aren’t such big fans, the experience is pretty solid, with a good audio guide for the mansion and some interesting exhibits showcasing memorabilia from Elvis’s music and film careers.
However…I must admit that I was underwhelmed by Graceland. For one, I couldn’t believe how expensive the ticket prices were. Also, I was disappointed that the tour of Graceland only included the first floor and basement; we didn’t get to go upstairs, and it seemed like we missed large portions of the mansion. Finally – and this may just be me – but I expected the mansion to be a bit more lavish and over-the-top. However, the rooms we saw just looked like standard ’60s and ’70s kitsch, and I guess I was expecting something more bombastic. So, while my family and I had fun touring the mansion and learning a bit more about Elvis, Graceland isn’t a spot I would feel compelled to revisit – though I’m glad I can now say I’ve seen it.