Sunday, August 19, 2007

My Elvis Week

Elvis Week 2007 is over, and that made me think of my trip to Memphis and Elvis Week two years ago, in 2005.

For a whole week, I lived and breathed Elvis Presley. And so did a thousand others. It started at the airport where I suddenly found myself standing next to Priscillas parents waiting to grab my bags, and there was Jerry Schilling meeting them. And it continued on the way to my hotel where giant signs pointed out that "Elvis lives".

When I passed through the doors to my hotel the first time, I could hear Elvis music playing from the bar. In the lobby, almost everyone I saw wore Elvis t-shirts and right before my eyes an Elvis impersonator passed by in his blue jumpsuit. And as if that wasn’t enough, there to the right, at a small table, Elvis buddy Sonny West was sitting signing autographs.

The next day, hearing Elvis singing "Welcome To My World" in my headphones on the short trip up to Graceland, sent shivers up my spine. I'm finally here, I remember thinking.

Graceland aside, I think the best thing was seeing and meeting musicians who played for Elvis. The highlight for me was a concert at Beale Street with the American Sound Studio band, playing Elvis songs from those fantastic sessions of '69. I even had the pleasure of interviewing organist Bobby Emmons and pianist Bobby Wood, and they were very humble and willing to share some of the moments they've had with Elvis.

When I shook their hands, I couldn't help but thinking that I was just one handshake away from Elvis.


Anonymous said...

Did the Bobbies say anything special about Elvis?

Thomas said...

Sebastian Haff, ehh?

Well, they couldn’t point out any one memory of him, but they said that he "brought a lot to the table" with him in 1969, that the atmosphere was very special and that they were in awe of him and worked very hard around the clock. In 1973, when they also recorded with him, the atmosphere was completely different, Elvis was another person and the material wasn’t as good as in 1969.