I just saw Jerry Lee Lewis perform and toured Graceland, the home of one Elvis A. Presley, both within weeks of each other. Life. Is. Good!
I’d say a fair portion of the folks reading this were probably at VLV 21 and saw Jerry Lee, as well. I must admit, I was in awe. There happened to be a guy in a ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ t-shirt standing right in front of me during the performance. On the back was that famous picture of the four gods of rockabilly, gathered around the piano singing. The entire set, as Jerry Lee sang and played, I just kept looking at that picture… then back to the stage… then back to the picture again. This was Jerry Lee FRIGGIN’ Lewis, right in front of me. Well, more accurately, across a sea of screaming fans… but still live and in front of me. I could not wrap my head around it. The Stray Cats were amazing of course, but this guy was one of the originals. When I was growing up, I listened to Elvis, Johnny, Jerry, Carl and so many others with my Mom and Dad. Sure, the music was already nearly 20 years old at the time, but my parents still listened and that is what formed my love of this music. When the Stray Cats entered the mainstream consciousness in the 80’s, I liked them because they were a throwback to the music I already loved. So, seeing them reunite and KILL IT at Viva was great, but it was nothing compared to watching Jerry Lee bang on that piano. Clearly, he was not the same Jerry Lee from those vintage black & white T.V. clips, kicking the stool away as he went nuts on the keyboard, his curly hair flopping around like a category 5 hurricane. But for me anyway, it was just being in the presence of something so humongous. It was like catching the final rays of the most beautiful, most amazing sunset in history. I just wanted to soak up every second. I will never forget it and I hope that some of you felt just how rare of an opportunity that was in 2018.
Then last weekend, I was in Memphis. I got the VIP tour of the place with a co-worker of mine. I’d been a few times before, but never on the upgraded ticket. They led us past the line at the front door, around the back and into some random room in the basement. I just sat there looking around, thinking how funny it would be if Elvis could see the 30 of us gathered in what was probably a back-storage room that he used to store boxes of fan mail or stuff he accumulated in the Army or maybe stuff his parents had held on to from that tiny shotgun-shack in Tupelo. There, we watched a short movie to hype us up before we were taken into the house. For those who haven’t been, the first thing that usually strikes people is that, heck, it really isn’t all that big. I mean it’s definitely bigger than anywhere I’ve ever lived, but not like ‘Hollywood A-lister in 2018’ ridiculous. Still, Elvis paid a whopping 100k for the place, with a thousand dollar down payment – you can even see the actual check displayed in one of the galleries. The coolest part for me, though, is that this place is literally frozen in time. Many things are just as Elvis left them on Aug 16, 1977. That just blows my mind. I mean, it literally feels like a young Elvis is going to walk around the corner at any time, eating a peanut butter and banana sandwich or rip past you outside in a supped-up golf cart. There are ghosts everywhere! It’s such an intimate thing to see someone’s home and it surreal when its someone I’ve idolized for as long as I can remember. Just walking around Memphis, you can feel the music everywhere. It really is a magical place. It’s no wonder that so many musicians converged on this spot. So many legendary artists, from Bluegrass to the Blues, migrated here. That unbelievable energy was all channeled by a young local kid and it exploded into the supernova that is Rock and Roll.