And on to Memphis, the realm of Elvis!

April 23, 2011

Leaving Fayetteville behind us, we had to spread our trip to Memphis over 2 days; we hate long drives on the schedule! So we stopped overnight in Mountain Home, AR. Not much to show there, nor to describe. But on the way down from there to Memphis, we came to a pretty little river sight on Martin’s Creek, site of a Civil War battle of historical note. Here’s a shot of a lovely old mill and Ed, a fisherman casting his bait out into the Creek here:

Read a little more about the historical significance of this spot in today’s gallery. After leaving that spot, we rolled on into Memphis around midday on Monday the 18th. That afternoon, we visited the Rock and Soul Museum, where we learned a lot about the origins of Blues, Jazz, and Soul music. It was interesting to see how the medium of music acted to dispel racial barriers as musicians of both white and black skin managed to overlook their differences to eventually be able to make great music together. But the Rock and Soul Museum got into some early beginnings of just music sharing amongst the early Negro sharecroppers:

A lot more stuff to see in the gallery, for example the sound control board Sam Phillips used to make Elvis’s first recording, My Happiness. That evening, we hopped out to Beale Street, running right by our hotel on Peabody Place. For a Monday night, it was hopping!

But of course, no one should visit Memphis without paying homage to the King himself. This man had to be one of the most phenomenal musicians to ever exist. He recorded at least 141 Gold, Platinum, Platinum plus records and albums, and made so much money it must’ve been tough to figure out how to spend it all. But he tried hard to spend, and to support needy people, related to him or not.

One quote from John Lennon: “I wasn’t really interested in music until I heard Elvis sing.” If true, this means that without Elvis, there would’ve been no Beatles! Pretty strong influence.

Elvis had plenty of money to buy or do just about anything he wanted. The public may not be aware of just how generous he was as a donor to worthy causes, often on a very personal level, with little to no fanfare.

In our daily gallery, you can see much of the interior of Graceland, Elvis’s mansion that he bought in 1957 at the age of 22, keeping it until his death 20 years later. You can see his Convair 880 4-engine jet, the “Lisa Marie,” and inspect some of Graceland’s interior rooms.

We had an interesting visit to the STAX Museum. STAX was a recording company that early on, published some really heavyweight performers. But due to various nefarious dealings, it went bankrupt in 1974. In recent years, it has been revived as a museum and a new music school. But definitely the most profound visit we had before leaving Memphis was to the National Civil Rights Museum, built on the site of the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. Just to set the stage for the basis for this movement, witness the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year old black boy whose crime against the White race was to say “Bye baby” to a white woman who sold him candy in a grocery store:

And the reason Emmett had to be killed?

The scary part of this is/was, some of this kind of attitude exists even to this day, though maybe in more covert and subtle ways. More images detailing more of the story and the struggle, are posted in our gallery; Take a look, they won’t bite! 😉

Before leaving Memphis, we toured the Cotton Museum, the site of the old Cotton Exchange. Memphis was the center of Cotton harvesting and distribution for the nation. At the Exchange, they brokered, bought and sold this fibrous commodity in all its ways, shapes and forms. Though we toured the museum for an hour or so, we (as usual) got more information from the Museum’s curator vis-a-vis how Cotton is doing these days, what current problems, prices are, the difference between a “module” and a “bale,” the many applications of cotton, including everything from fine sheets to dynamite. The U.S. now ranks 3rd in world-wide cotton production, trailing #1 China, and #2 India. Any surprises there? 😉

As this entry is being penned, we’re about to leave Nashville. More on our Music City visit when next we meet!


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