Monday, February 4, 2008

Greetings From Memphis

It's perplexing to see a car in Memphis with a pro-vegetarian bumper sticker. This is the land of barbeque, after all. A "Meat is Murder" message seems a bit out of place in the pulled pork capital of the world.

I suppose the militant vegans take the same approach as a Christian fundamentalist who proselytizes on Sunset Boulevard with the hookers and the addicts: Go where the sinners are. I suspect their success rate is about the same.

But Memphis is more than just coleslaw and tangy sauce. It is also the home of the legendary Sun Studio. Those of you with only a passing knowledge of musical history will recognize the name as the place where Elvis began his recording career. It is also the only recording studio listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

We arrived in time for the Friday, 11:30 AM tour. Our wiseass yet highly informed tour guide took us up to the second floor where we gawked at the various museum pieces. Among the artifacts was a video of Elvis Presley's first television appearance which occurred prior to Ed Sullivan only shooting him from the waist up.

Back then, the young Elvis had quite a set of choppers on him. He must have taken some of that early Rock 'N' Roll money and visited the King of Dental Work.

We were eventually led downstairs to the actual recording studio. Adorning the original, acoustically tiled walls are photos not only of Elvis but of Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. To be standing on the same spot where these legends recorded some of their great songs is awe inspiring not to mention pretty damn cool.

Modern musicians have recorded there as well. As our guide rattled off some of the big names-- U2, Bonnie Raitt, Benicio Del Toro-- we couldn't help but wonder, "Did he just say Benicio Del Toro?"

You can still record at Sun Studio for a paultry $85 per hour. I'm shocked they don't offer fantasy recording camps for baby boomers who want to capture some of that Presley magic.

But Memphis is more than just BBQ and Sun Studios. It's also the place where Martin Luther King was killed. Above is a photo of the historic Lorraine Motel. We did not have time to tour the adjacent civil rights museum but we certainly will if we ever return.

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