Eastbound Day 16 – 264 miles – Memphis to Nashville

Sunday, 10 April 1994

The Graceland hype is so overpowering it was kind of surprising to find two other attractions (one very low key and one very big budget) which we ranked ahead of the Presley extravaganza.

Sun StudiosThe low key one was Sun Studios, where Elvis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and many others recorded. After 20 more-or-less derelict years it’s now back in action (U2 have recorded there) although it looks scarcely changed since the ‘50s. The tour is low key but terrific, you simply stand in the slightly tattered old studio and the guide tells you about it and plays segments from some of those historic sessions. Why don’t more people go there?

Sun Studios may have been simple but the Civil Rights Museum is definitely big budget. It’s sited in the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King was murdered. The museum leads you through the civil rights story from the Civil War onwards. You can sit down in a bus and experience what it feels like to be ordered to move to the back or to stand up for a white passenger. Or you can sit down at a lunch counter and be abused for trying to order at a whites-only cafeteria. It’s a powerful and moving series of exhibits which winds its way through the gutted and rebuilt old motel to finally emerge in room 306, from which King stepped to his death.

We also caught the Peabody Hotel’s duck parade; a small group of ducks making a daily promenade from the elevator to the lobby fountain. And we drove on Nashville.