Yes, I confess, I fell in love with the idea of Memphis from a song. Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis” had that soulful edge that grabbed me and took hold. And when I heard him sing an especially heartfelt rendition at the Palace on Albany, NY a few years back, my capitivation festered. So, I was driven to take a route directly north through Mississippi up to Tennessee’s birthplace of blues. I had found an interesting hostel, Pilgrim’s, where I would be required to do a small chore in order to get my ten dollar deposit back. It didn’t surprise me much then, when I saw a sign declaring Tennessee the Volunteer State!
The hostel was in the Cooper Young neighborhood, some distance from downtown but with its own draw of a number of eateries and entertainments. Of course, I needed to get to Beale Street, so after changing into some cooler clothes and chatting a bit with a friend on the Internet, I pulled my tired self together and drove downtown. I ended up on Main Street, which I loved! It seemed organic with old signs and buildings mixed with intriguing shops and cafes. There were grooves in the road, which made driving a bit tretcherous and indicated the presence of a trolley system. Finally, I came upon the Orpheum, a music theater, and noticed it stood on the corner of Main and Beale! Bingo! I found some parking and walked on down Beale. Some of the music seeping out of back courtyards was so juicy, I did feel like my feet were floating! I was almost enthused enough to buy a T-shirt but then thought better of it. The downside of Beale was the flashy touristic scene it had been forced into. Although authentic old signs kept the street from total kitsch indoctrination!
I headed back past the Orpheum to the river. The evening sun was dazzling and the high grass and catfish playground the perfect edging. Two elderly gentlemen played harmonica and sang the blues at a cafe. I listened while photographing fish on blue iron wrought bench. Eventually, I drove back to Cooper Young, to take in a free outdoor concert. I sat and ate some frozen yoghurt garnished with fruit and yummy gummis, while the band jumped around to the funky blues music.
Back at the hostel, all was quiet. My chore was sweeping the stairs from the outdoor entrance to the hostel door. Only one bunkmate in my room, who apologized for turning on the light. No other interruptions all night long! I got up early and waited a while for the staff to appear to get my deposit back, but gave up at 8:30. A McDonalds WiFi aided me in finding my way to Graceland. I jumped out of my car in front of the wall, snapped some pics, including of a jet with my name on it. For the record, I was born one year before Elvis’ beloved offspring! Then I was off to my next destination, Asheville, North Carolina!