Much like its legendary owner, Graceland makes no apologies for its all out assault on the senses.
On one level, it stands as a testament to consumerism and offers eager tourists the opportunity to purchase, view, tour, listen and celebrate all things Elvis, for an escalating price.
On another, though, Graceland offers a precious glimpse into the heart of a man idolized the world over, who loved his family and remained devoted to his hometown.
Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, you can tour Elvis’ home and meditation garden, host an event, get married, see the inside of his private plane, sleep in the Heartbreak Hotel.
We chose the simple tour and that proved to be plenty for us. We saw garish decorations everywhere, except in the heart of the house. With a cast iron skillet on the stove and a small television set, Elvis’ kitchen remained remarkably simple. Said to be the busiest room in the house, thanks to the steady stream of guests and round-the-clock routines of the Presley entourage, the kitchen stood in stark contrast to more flamboyant places like the pool room, covered completely in nearly 400 yards of cloth.
Nearly every room had a mirror, and I made Molly pause in front of almost each one, which begged the question, who is vainer, the man who installs mirrors throughout his home, or the guest who photographs herself in nearly each one?
As we wound through the first floor of the house, the office, grounds, racquet ball court and meditation garden, we listened to Elvis’ voice, heard him sing, appreciated his laugh and grew to admire him more and more.
The tour ends in the meditation garden where Elvis is buried, along with his mother, father, and grandmother (who outlived them all). A grave stone also pays tribute to Elvis’ twin brother Jesse, who died at birth.
For all his human foibles, Elvis’ legacy remains that of a gifted musician and entertainer, whose expansive generosity to his friends, family and hometown has transcended his death for nearly 50 years.