Before visiting Graceland, we listened to a short biography about Elvis so the kids could have a better appreciation of him during our visit. This was a kid-friendly version of his life so I think quite a few things were sanitized. When you arrive at Graceland, you start off in a large complex of warehouse type buildings that house the displays, cars, and other memorabilia. You watch a short film about Elvis and then board a shuttle that takes you across the street to the mansion. It drives right through the famous gates and up to the portico. It is a beautiful house and the grounds are well-kept. You are given an Ipad with a self-paced audio tour that is unique in that it also has additional photos and short home-videos that you can watch in the different rooms and areas of the grounds. The tour gives access to the lower levels of the house, the Jungle room, and the outside recreation areas. You also see the gardens, pool, and the tombs. The upstairs are still private family-only areas and one of the guides said even they have never been upstairs.
Walking through the house, it felt….. sad. In pictures and videos, Elvis seems so kind and down-home. He lived with his parents his entire life. He obviously cared deeply for his friends. But at the same time, he was living in a darkness that steadily grew. Is that just fame and fortune? Surrounded by others but feeling alone? It was sad to think of all that he missed because of the lifestyle that got away from him and his early death. What would have been different if he had stuck to music and not done movies? Or if he had a different manager perhaps? Can a person get that famous and still keep a simple life? Still be happy?
I’m not sure, but I think visiting Graceland is a wonderful way to get a better feel for the person he was and the life he lived. In one of the audio clips, Lisa-Marie talks about how bigger than life he always was and how there was constant energy, noise, and activity at Graceland. Maybe that is part of the sadness that is there now. We are even more consumer driven now than we were in Elvis’ time and that can be frightening. Leaving Memphis, I told the kids they needed to start their journal and add to it with each stop. I’ll share some of what they had to say about Graceland as well.
Share your thoughts. Can you have fame and fortune and still have peace and happiness?