A journey down Highway 61 from Memphis to Jackson takes Rupert Parker along the Mississippi Freedom Trail. It carries echoes of his previous trip to Alabama.
For Elvis fans, Tennessee and Mississippi are definitely the must visit states – you can follow his life from the lowly two room shack where he was born, to the hit studio where he made his first recordings, the mansion where he lived until he died, and his final resting place. Fly into Memphis or Nashville, they’re about 3 hours apart, rent a car and stop off at Tupelo on the way.
Late morning and I’m walking in Memphis. Hot and steamy, with Marc Cohn’s lyrics bouncing around my head. I spot Jacqueline Smith still camped out on the corner of Mulberry and Butler Street opposite the Lorraine Motel, a place she has occupied for over 27 years.
I’m in Nashville’s Music Row on 16th Street, just a stone’s throw from RCA’s famous Studio B and I’m with Billy Montana and it’s raining buckets. Somewhat ironic really as Billy wrote the number 1 country hit Bring on the Rain, and frankly Nashville couldn’t bring on any more rain if it tried.
I’m sitting at a grand old Steinway in RCA’s Studio B on Music Row in Nashville. As it happens, it’s the very piano Elvis tinkered on when he was working out arrangements for his band. Debbie, something of a Nashville treasure in her own right, is telling me a true story about one of his sessions.