Walk­ing in Mem­phis

Let's Travel - - CON­TENTS - By Gary Dick­son

As­in­gle shot, which res­onated around the world, changed ev­ery­thing in an in­stant. The time 6.01pm! The date April 4th 1968, Mem­phis Ten­nessee! Un­til that ex­act time and date ev­ery­one at Stax Records in Mem­phis…black, white, yel­low or green, had worked at mak­ing some of the best mu­sic the world had heard, with­out one iota of re­gard to what each oth­ers’ skin colour was.

Younger read­ers may know Isaac Hayes as Chef from South Park but in the late 60’s and early 70’s Hayes was one of the most prom­i­nent mu­sic writ­ers in the US. His part­ner­ship with Dave Porter pro­duced the leg­endary Soul Man for duet Sam & Dave, and it is re­garded as one of the most in­flu­en­tial songs of the past 50 years (Source: Grammy Hall of Fame)

Along with Hayes, names like Booker T & the M.G.s, Ru­fus Thomas, The Sta­ple Singers, Sam & Dave, Wil­son Pick­ett and the leg­endary Otis Redding all recorded at Stax Records.

There is a free (hourly) shut­tle that runs all day be­tween Sun Stu­dios, Grace­land and the Mem­phis Rock ‘n Soul Mu­seum. This is a great (in­ex­pen­sive) way to get around and see three of the big at­trac­tions this city has to of­fer.

But, if it’s the per­sonal style of tour you like then I highly rec­om­mend Mr. Tad Pier­son …Amer­i­can Dream Sa­fari.

Not only will Tad be able to get you in to places like Royal Stu­dios (it seems like he knows ev­ery­one in Mem­phis) but for this Kansas born and bred “young” man he will show all there is to do in Mem­phis and more. It is his pas­sion …it is his dream. Did I men­tion you will be trans­ported around Mem­phis in his 1955 Pink Cadil­lac?

And then there is Grace­land …home to “you know who” and a des­ti­na­tion in it­self. I grew up with my par­ents lov­ing him and his mu­sic (okay, mum more than dad – but you get the pic­ture), so it was with much an­tic­i­pa­tion that I jumped the bus out to Grace­land (about 15 min­utes or so out of town) and held my breath as the shut­tle rolled past the gates and in to the drop off area.

Like many who see Grace­land for the first time I was a lit­tle taken back by the size (or lack of). Much like the Sphinx in Cairo it is smaller than you ex­pect …but great things come in small pack­ages and Grace­land cer­tainly punches above its weight.

Since you have come this far make sure you book in for the Plat­inum Tour (US$ 37) – this en­com­passes ev­ery­thing. The Man­sion Tour, the Air­planes, The Car Mu­seum, a trib­ute to his Hawai’i days and much, much more!

The Man­sion Tour ends with a very solemn walk past his grave (Yes, he re­ally is gone), which is lo­cated in the gar­dens …where he lays next to his mother, fa­ther and grand­mother …along with a plaque ded­i­cated to his twin brother. If you re­ally want to ex­pe­ri­ence a lit­tle bit more of Elvis-ma­nia then stay at Heart­break Ho­tel …which is NOT down Lonely Street, but just across the road from Grace­land.

A place much bet­ter than Lonely Street is the world fa­mous Beale Street! Bal­ance your tourism genes with a good night (or three) at BB King’s on Beale Street, or any of the plethora of bars and res­tau­rants. The food was great wher­ever I went – great south­ern style, and the friendli­est of peo­ple.

If it’s a lit­tle more “tra­di­tional” faire you’re af­ter try Gus’s World Fa­mous Fried Chicken. Not ex­actly sil­ver ser­vice (the op­po­site is closer) but the food is 100% su­perb …right down to the plas­tic chairs, beans and back street lo­ca­tion. Colonel San­ders eat your heart out!!!

And to make sure you are al­ways close to the ac­tion, stay at The Pe­abody Ho­tel – lit­er­ally a three minute walk to BB King’s. En­joy a re­lax­ing drink in their lobby bar while you fight for your spot to watch the fa­mous Pe­abody Ducks. Twice a day, ev­ery day, th­ese ducks are “marched” from their home on the roof of the ho­tel to the foun­tain in the lobby and back again to the “Ooos” and “Aaahs” of many a cam­era happy tourist. A point of dif­fer­ence? Ab­so­lutely – but for the best view head to the mez­za­nine floor, fac­ing the foun­tain.

For your fi­nal place of in­ter­est you can go back to where it all started …the Lor­raine Mo­tel, which now forms part of the Na­tional Civil Rights Mu­seum. The lo­ca­tion of that res­onat­ing shot fired from the gun of one James Earl Ray.

It’s a place that re­flects the story of a peo­ple, of their hopes and dreams, of chal­lenges and change…a place that will for­ever go down in his­tory.

Walk­ing in Mem­phis is easy enough to do …most things are quite close to town and easy enough to get to…it’s whose shoes you are walk­ing in that will re­flect how you fall in love with this city just like I did.

Beale Street

Got what I got the hard way And I’ll make it bet­ter each and ev­ery daySo honey, don’t you fret ‘Cause you ain’t seen noth­ing yet I’m a soul man, I’m a soul man, play it SteveI’m a soul man, I’m a soul man

Tad Pier­son and his “baby”

– Paul Si­mon - 1986

Grace­land I’m go­ing to Grace­land Mem­phis Ten­nessee I’m go­ing to Grace­land Poor­boys and Pil­grims with fam­i­lies And we are go­ing to Grace­land And my trav­el­ing com­pan­ions Are ghosts and empty sock­ets I’m look­ing at ghosts and emp­ties But I’ve rea­son to be­lieve We all will be re­ceived In Grace­land

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