David Oke
Graceland, Memphis, December 2013

One movie that always provides me with enduring entertainment is This Is Spinal Tap, the 1984 mockumentary movie that follows the haphazard musical journey of the fictional hard rock band Spinal Tap. Some of my favourite moments are about a previous drummer who died from choking on vomit, but it wasn’t his own; the explanation by Nigel Tufnel of his beautiful musical trilogy in D Minor , the saddest of all keys; the guitar amplifier that goes all the way up to eleven; and their visit to Elvis’ home in Memphis, Graceland.

To be honest with you, I had never been a big fan of Elvis. However, I came away from the Graceland tour with a great respect for the guy – he was generous and appeared to have a longing for making those around him happy. The pressure cooker life isolated him from normality and his decadence allowed him such luxuries as having a private jet airliner that he once used to take his sick dog to Boston for treatment.

Across the road from Graceland there are further museums and shops that are testament to the man who changed the style of popular music and popular culture forever. While my wife Heather sampled a grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich in the diner, my older son logged on to the internet to find out his VCE score. Not far away is accommodation that is aptly named Heartbreak Hotel.

Before entering the tour I explained to my sons that we are about to enter holy ground, that there are some people who worship Elvis and that the memories of some people we will be amongst are unique, special and strong. “In other words,” I said, “ Show some respect.”

I was surprised that Graceland wasn’t too opulent, and not too big. The displayed rows of gold records and encased rows of Elvis’ white jump suits used in Las Vegas were unforgettable.

After the tour of the home, the tour group is free to wander between the other buildings, including the racquetball court building, where Elvis’ life ended. Right by the pool is his grave, where he rests alongside his parents.