Today, when we rolled out of Birmingham, it was only a short trip to Tupelo, Mississippi. For years, my dad has been talking about taking me and my little sister to see the birthplace of Elvis, and now the joke is on them because I saw it all! Not only did I take pictures on the front porch where Elvis was born, but my hair looked fantastic, and I was able to see a replica of the Presley family outhouse, so double jokes on them (which was doubly exciting).
After buying some souvenirs and finishing lunch, we departed to what may be one of the greatest and most influential cities in this country – Memphis, Tennessee. We’ve been here for less than 12 hours, and I’m already scheming about how to make it back (looking at you, mom). We began at Sun Studio, where some of the biggest names in Rock n’ Roll, past and present, have recorded. The tour and artifacts were amazing, but the stories were what truly got me. I can hear all the history in the world, but it is the stories that bring out the personalities and charm of the stars. Hearing an Elvis recording made me smile, but hearing him break and laugh in the middle of recording a song made me laugh too. The thing about concerts that differentiates them from recordings is not the performance. What is special about the performance is the moment the performer stops the music and speaks to the crowd. Almost always, the speaking voice is totally different from the singing voice, and that speaking right then is exactly what makes each concert unique. Downstairs, we heard a recording of Elvis speaking to fellow performers before playing, and that really took me back to the time when his buddies walked Beale St. and Union Ave themselves.
Beale St. was the next place we went to, and it was truly like magic. Even today, just strutting down the street, three bands were playing at any given time. The stores were full of voodoo, food, and incense, as well as so many friendly people!
As soon as we finished up on Beale Street, we moved straight to the Smithsonian Museum of Rock and Soul. We started with a video, which I enjoyed so much I actually went back to watch it again. It’s impossible to listen to Rock n’ Roll and not smile. All day, I caught myself smiling and rocking unintentionally. Hearing and watching these people talk about the influence of music reinforced to me the power that music can hold. As a kid, my dad played us these records and talked about these people, but on this day, it all clicked for me. The music I liked to jam to in the back seat of my dad’s car CHANGED HISTORY. It had influence equal to Dr. King’s speeches. This is a brand new idea to me, and I couldn’t be prouder to be so involved! As my friend Jamie said: “I am star-struck.” I was star-struck all day from Sun Studios and Beale Street, but what was really crazy was that my parents were also star-struck by these characters.
We had an incredible dinner combined with watching a live band and dancing in a club on Beale Street! Some of us even got to sing and play instruments. After dancing the night away at Alfred’s Blues Club, we went to a really special landmark. Oh yes, we visited the Mississippi River. As a junior, I read Huckleberry Finn, and it is now one of my favorite books. Looking across the giant current to Arkansas from Tennessee was surreal. The whole story takes place on that river, and the power I get through the symbolism and history resonated so greatly after such an inspirational day.
We ended with a bus ride back to the hotel but not before saying goodnight to the precious little Peabody ducks. It was the perfect way to end the whole experience, and I cannot tell you how excited I am to wake up and do it all again tomorrow.
Love and miss you family, see you guys soon!
Here are some videos of Etgar 36 celebrating our journey by singing and dancing at a blues club on Beale street in Memphis: