Six years ago, I was taking a road trip from my then-home in South Carolina back to my mother’s house in Iowa. My best friend, who gracefully accepted when I asked him to drive me, offered to make stops anywhere I wanted along the way as long as we could stop in St. Louis to see the Budweiser brewery on the way back.
Without hesitation I retorted with, “Um, hell yeah.”
So, I made two requests: Graceland and Tupelo, MS. My mother is a huge Elvis Presley fan, which I didn’t understand until I hit puberty. Seriously. And, I hate to admit that. It makes it sound like Elvis only makes sense to hormonal women, and that just isn’t the case. I didn’t understand her lusting after him until after puberty, but his talent as a singer and musician never missed the mark with me. I loved his Christmas album before I ever loved Viva Las Vegas, and that was mainly for Ann Margret. Va-va-va-voom!
But I can’t say I didn’t feel something when we finally made it to the memorial and museum honoring Elvis’s birthplace. There were statues, a family car, and an extensive museum chronicling The King’s early life and rise to stardom. They even managed to maintain the very house Elvis was born in, outfitted with furniture from the time period–not the actual furniture the family lived with.
So, on this, what would have been Elvis’s 80th birthday, I want to recount what happened when my friend and I took the tour of Graceland. Though the monument to his birthplace was stunning, it was closed when we arrived and felt rather, well, dead. It was just my friend and I wandering the grounds and trying to see inside the doors of the museum. Graceland, though, offered up a wonderful experience when we reached the Gold Records Room.
In this very room, a large group of people had collected with eyes glued to the walls, display cases, and a large TV mounted up into the left-hand corner of the room. The TV was showing old concert footage, and when Elvis began a rendition of “Amazing Grace” the entire room–which had been bustling with idle chatter and the movement of several bodies–hushed and all eyes turned to the big screen. For a moment, it was just us and The King, gracing us with his talent and his presence. It was the perfect moment and easy to get swept up in. Walking through his home, seeing the living room, the jungle room, and the room where he was last seen alive was an experience I knew my mother would never be able to have. Having these pictures and sharing them with her meant the world to me. I’m still planning on collecting them into a book and printing them off for her. I know she’d love it.
Remembering Elvis and his legacy in the music world always brings a smile to my face, and if you want to take part in that legacy, you can find Elvis albums on Amazon, Google Play, and Spotify for your listening pleasure! You can also read the TIME magazine feature about his rise to stardom.
Happy 80th Birthday, Elvis!!!