Sunday, May 10, 2009

walking in memphis.

Put on my blue suede shoes, and I boarded the plane/ Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues/ In the middle of the pouring rain

During my break at work yesterday, I heard the song "Walking In Memphis" by Marc Cohn for what was probably the thousandth time in my whole life. As a kid I thought, "Why is this guy so excited about Memphis?" Of course, the only Memphis I knew of back then was Memphis, Missouri (pop. 2,061 as of the 2000 census). Anyone from around my neck of the woods knows that most small towns in northeast Missouri aren't much to rave about. (No offense to my friends in Clark County; you know I love you.)

Here I go again, waxing poetic about my all-time favorite movie, so if you've heard all this before then be patient with me. In the movie "Elizabethtown," the main character Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) takes a road trip that begins in his father's Kentucky hometown and winds through some of the most unexpectedly beautiful places south of the Mason-Dixon Line (and later through the Bible Belt, which I grew to love during college). These are places I hope to go someday, because I am a romantic who doesn't yearn for the glitter of the Eiffel Tower or the artificial glamour of Times Square. I'd rather lay my money down for a ticket to Memphis, Tennessee.

Which seems crazy, considering I've never really seen much of the South with my own eyes. But something about that part of the country just captivates me. The place where rock 'n' roll, country western and blues intermingle. The eye of the storm during the civil rights movement.

I won't be heartbroken if I don't make it to Graceland.

I guess it's only right to put in an appearance there, as long as I'm in the neighborhood, but I won't linger too long in front of those wrought-iron gates. Seeing as I'm not a diehard Elvis Presley fan, it's just not a priority.

More than anything I want to walk down Beale Street.

I want to look out over Wolf River Harbor where Jeff Buckley breathed his last.

I want to step inside Sun Studios and strain my ears for the sound of a steel guitar and the low, gravelly voice of Johnny Cash and Elvis in his better days.

And at the end of the day, I'll stretch out on a bed in the Peabody Hotel.

The next morning, before I hit the road, I'll pay a visit to Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., awoke for the last time.

So maybe Memphis is nothing too fancy or grandiose, but that's never really been my style...maybe it's not such a great place to live, from what I've heard. But all I'm hoping for is just a couple of days to breathe that air a little further down the Mississippi. I don't know how or why, but it runs deep in my veins.

They've got catfish on the table, they've got gospel in the air/ And Reverend Green will be glad to see you, when you haven't got a prayer/ But boy you've got a prayer in Memphis


Audrey said...

Oh, I have loved this song for years! I hope you get the chance to walk down Beale Street--10 feet off the ground, of course. :)


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