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Graceland wouldn't wow any celebrities today; I'm sure Jay-Z could fit Elvis's old mansion in his garage. But for its time, Graceland was the symbol of all that celebrity and stardom could offer in the new mass media era of the 1950s and 60s. Elvis Presley didn't invent Rock n' Roll, he wasn't its greatest musician, didn't have it's greatest voice or stage presence. In many ways, he is unremarkable when stacked up against some of the greats of the genre (or the genres he emerged out of: country, R&B, rockabilly). But he was the figure who brought Rock to the mainstream with his energetic and youthful reinterpretations of R&B standards like 'That's All Right, Mama' and 'Blue Suede Shoes' before moving on to originals. Helped by the then ubiquitous radio and the newly emerging technology of television, Elvis became the world's biggest star.

Graceland was the home he bought at age 21, the biggest thing anyone had seen in Memphis. At the time, Graceland was a country home; now it is on Elvis Presley Boulevard, a somewhat depressing stretch of strip malls and tourist traps. The tour gives us Elvis at his most opulent, a period that happens to coincide with the 1970s, meaning that the whole house is covered in shag carpeting, bizarre color choices, and wood paneling. Today, a prospective buyer would run screaming, but in the 70s this was the height of fashion, and Elvis had it all.

This shot comes from the museum inside Graceland. The largest sign is a promotional poster for Elvis' movie Girls! Girls! Girls! released in 1962, at the height of his popularity. Around it are assorted smaller pieces of Elvis memorabilia.

It might be ironic given the house's most famous resident, but the best and most well-known song about Graceland comes from Paul Simon, whose brilliant 1986 album Graceland is also notable for cross-cultural musicianship with the use of South African Isicathamiya singing and African rhythms. The title track is one of the song's more pop-driven moments, about a trip Simon took to the site with his son.

"Graceland" - Paul Simon
The Mississippi delta was shining
Like a national guitar
I am following the river
Down the highway
Through the cradle of the civil war
I'm going to Graceland
Graceland
In Memphis, Tennessee
I'm going to Graceland
Poor boys and pilgrims with families
And we are going to Graceland
My traveling companion is nine years old
He is the child of my first marriage
But I've reason to believe
We both will be received
In Graceland

She comes back to tell me she's gone
As if I didn't know that
As if I didn't know my own bed
As if I'd never noticed
The way she brushed her hair from her forehead
And she said losing love
Is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you're blown apart
Everybody sees the wind blow

I'm going to Graceland
Memphis, Tennessee
I'm going to Graceland
Poor boys and pilgrims with families
And we are going to Graceland

And my traveling companions
Are ghosts and empty sockets
I'm looking at ghosts and empties
But I've reason to believe
We all will be received
In Graceland

There is a girl in New York City
Who calls herself the human trampoline
And sometimes when I'm falling, flying
Or tumbling in turmoil I say
Oh, so this is what she means
She means we're bouncing into Graceland
And I see losing love
Is like a window in your heart
And everybody sees you're blown apart
Everybody feels the wind blow

In Graceland, in Graceland
I'm going to Graceland
For reasons I cannot explain
There's some part of me wants to see
Graceland
And I may be advised to defend
Every love, every ending
Or maybe there's no obligations now
Maybe I've a reason to believe
We all will be received
In Graceland

In Graceland, in Graceland, Graceland
I'm going to Graceland

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Additional Photos by Andrew Lipsett (ACL1978) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 882 W: 75 N: 1686] (7463)
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