Again, we arose and a-drove. So much has already happened betwixt then and now that I may end up forgetting a lot, but this morning did precede quite a large night in Memphis. Anyway, I do recall that we went to a ‘Huddle House’ on this journey. I remember having a stuffed hash brown which had several meat products in, all containing the word sausage. It was yellow and sausagey. Then we filled the chariot a la monde – don’t even think that is a term, and off we wobbled. OH hold on, yes! That was in Tupelo, and Elvis was born/lived in Tupelo when he was a wee boy.
We arrived on Elvis Presley Boulevard at about 15.30 and Maurice quickly ran into the ‘Days Inn Graceland’ hotel to ask about Graceland, which apparently had already closed for the day. !!!!!!!!!!!!!. ?????????. Hilarious. However, we were then able to focus our attentions on to our hotel…The Memory Lane, stuffed with Elvis paraphernalia and to our utmost joy, a guitar shaped swimming pool. I had already pre planned my swimming journey in said guitar but it was so very extremly freezing cold that I just managed to get my tootsies in (I hope that means toes here and nothing else).
We were to wait a couple of hours before a group journey somewhere but Ben-Lighting decided to take a wee trip in to Memphis itself. This is about a $25 cab ride away but Sophie, my new room wife, and Charlie and I decided to crash in on his trip. Oh and boy oh boy oy va voi were we glad we did! There was a lot of freeway to be had between our hotel and the centre of Memphis/Beale Street and then we were skirting alongside the mighty Mississippi River, it was a slightly foggy night which excentuated the romance of the view. Then the cab man dropped us right off at the top of Beale Street and we were suddenly mesmerised by the largest collection of neon bar signs that we thought were actually possible in one street without setting everything on fire.
We walked the length of Beale street
OH! I have just discovered something – I was about to say ‘walking with my feet off and on the Beale’ and I just wanted to make sure I was referencing the song lyric properly and I WASN’T because THOSE AREN’T EVEN THE LYRICS. For YEARS I swore that those were the words to ‘Walking in Memphis’ and I was TOTALLY wrong. I am using a varied amount of both lower and UPPER case letters to, hopefully, demonstrate how utterly shocked I am about this as this is one of my most loved songs and I didn’t even KNOW THE WORDS properly. The ACTUAL (I’ll stop with the caps thing in a minute when I get over it) lyrics are –
Walking with my feet ten feet off the Beale.
Ok, I’m over it now.
Obviously he was happy to have been there. I too was ten feet off the Beale. Usually when on tour in America there is not another place in the world that I would rather be, not at any point of the entire tour. And this feeling was, if possible, magnified ten fold. Right there, in Memphis, there was no other place for me to be. Snaps snapped, moments captured, neons lights filling our memories both digitally and spiritually and then it was time to sit ourselves down, drink a beer and listen to some blues.
Very recently I discovered that when a group of people are together, doing something awesome and having an amazing time, it is possible that the group falls silent. Happiness and being content, the true form of both of those can, surprisingly, manifest itself as silence. There is no need to be any louder. And so we – lighting Ben, Prince(ss) Charlie, Sophie and myself sat quietly in BB Kings, listening to the live band (with curiously 90’s-esque costumes on emanating a synthetic 1950’s feel), drinking our drinks, looking around at all the other patrons for the night, and we were silent and happy. Sophie and I discussed our happiness after a while, it was mutually formed into silence. Wonder was continuously entering into our eyes and I ordered a blue cocktail and things got even better.
We headed across the road to ‘Put some South in our Mouth’ and eat at, apparently, the best place to eat in Memphis. Oh and on the way, which was a mere 8 feet from BBKings, we were witness to a man somersaulting down the road, he lost his shoe mid flight, which worried me a little vu pt he seemed to cope fine without it. Back to the food place….It was nice, and good to stock up on something that will soak up alcohol. The best thing about this place was the size of the beer. Bars in America do not seem to sell pints as we know them, and this place happily overcompensated that for us by giving us all over pint sized beers, see this s#*t just keep on getting BETTER.
We also discussed how, since Ben-lighting had shaved, he looked a bit like Nicholas Cage.
Standing outside, waiting for the others to leave, I speak to the man on the door. Apparently ‘Usher’ is in town, doing a concert at the Fed Ex forum. I have never wanted to see Usher, but for some reason I was deeply compelled to go and see him, but I was whisked away and in to a souvenir shop and all thoughts of Usher left my brain and instead my eyes feasted upon all things Elvis. It cannot be denied that I LOVE a souvenir shop, and things. I love things. And after scouring the shop for the worst crime against souvenir sensibilities I found what I was looking for. This.
I am so happy with this. I cannot explain why, but you can imagine how extraordinary this night is turning out to be.
We trail Beale street some more for more ‘stuff’ and sights. Sophie bought a hat from a different shop where the lady behind the counter was from Cambridge, UK. I’m always delighted and disappointed in equal measure to meet a fellow Brit in somewhere amazing. Terrible isn’t it – that I think that. In Memphis you can carry your drinks around with you from bar to bar, as long as they are in plastic cups. So we still had our diner beers on us. Ben had downed his already, I was about an inch off the bottom of mine, however the more cautious drinkers in the party still had a healthy amount left, and as we passed the resident ‘bums’ (I am loathe to refer to this group of individual humans who may not have houses or very much money as ‘bums’ but, well there we go I have just described them as they are in both my terms and American terms so I shall refrain from the possible ensuing apology) Anyway Sophie and Charlie gave them their beers, which received much cheer and off we went to ‘Rum Boogie’ bar. $3 entrance fee buys you the best house band in town. The place is dripping with guitars hanging from the ceiling, signed by the likes of everyone you’d like to see a guitar signed by. And Dollar bills cover all possible surfaces. Originally they were meant to have wishes on but now it has devolved into people just writing their names and where they are from, on them. We love this place and you can even smoke in there! I know!
There are different sections of the bar. So we sit there and as we are lamenting the fact that all the others decided to stay in the hotel…..’stay in the hotel’ ???? In MEMPHIS……yes, I know they may have been picked up by a big pink limousine and taken to a place where Elvis used to eat – quite close to the hotel, and had larger than usual margheritas but COME ON kids #thiss@*tisforreal. I passionately sent a message to all enthusing about how awesome it would be to experience this place together, and it all came good after Sophie had been woo-ing Pom with our tales of joy and finally, at ‘Rum Boogie’ Pom, Anna, Maurice and Katharine stroll on in. Huurrrraaaaaaaayyyyyyy. We were so happy that there were more to the party and to enjoy the joys of Beale Street. We danced to the blues in the side bar (This band had the most awesomely sedate Japanese lady bass player, who looked like she would rather be eating her own feaces than be playing the bass, with the band or even AT ALL, and was even sat as behind-the-speaker as she could, but obviously she was deliriously happy, somewhere in her, what looked like, frozen soul, we all fell deeply in love with her, for being the coolest thing since her aforementioned frozen soul). We tipped when they sang ‘Tips Tips, Tips the band’…we drank bourbon and ginger in plastic glasses we tipped and tipped and danced and photographically documented the band/dancing/Sparkles/etc and then we headed down the road to Coyote Ugly.
All there is to say about that is we danced on the bar pretty much as soon as we got through the door. I clogged along, on the bar, to the non blues music blasting out at us and we were up on the bar for some time. We were the film, with our clothes on (do they even take their clothes off in the film?) we kept our bras on and didn’t haphazardly fling them at the bar, although Pom protested that she has exactly the right bra for that sort of shenanigan, and was distray to realise she didn’t have it on.
Then we went to the 152 bar. A lovely bunch of ladies that love ladies had woo-ed us to go and watch their friends band. And so we made it that way……we lost lighting Ben, Sophie and Charlie, as they went back to the hotel, having had fully experienced Memphis to their satisfaction, and we weren’t far behind. Yet another bar you can smoke in and a couple of beers later, we watched THE most awesome drummer, man, that guy clearly works out. I’m surprised he could move his arms at the speed he did considering the size of them. Anyway he was amazing, we danced and then when they were done we found ‘Joseph’ the cab man. He squeezed all five of us in his car – not his car, he doesn’t have a car but he’d like his own car – and he talked to us all the way home. We fell in love with him. So many things were discussed and shared in that cab journey. He was like our black grandpa. Rich in everything but dollar. Wise, beautiful and an open and warm assuring soul. Pom then did not let him leave. We left them there, after shouting at Pom, telling her he has jobs to pick up/money to earn, but their souls were searching around listening to the aged ground, talking of the pains of heritage and many many other things.
Finally Pom returned to the room, I found Katharine and Poms room, there was talk of defrosting one of the frozen beers, but I was done in after being sated via liquid form and I couldn’t do another round of the circular discussion Pom and I were having about Blues and American folk music. We were saying the same thing – gospel was also involved, I think we were agreeing but in a confrontational and disagreeing sort of way. Nothing better than a late night impassioned row about music.
That was that, over and out. Memphis, you were more than I could possibly ask for.