Thursday August 17th was my 7th and final day of Elvis Week 2017. I ended the 40th Anniversary Elvis Week the same way I started it – touring Graceland.
I actually had a great night’s sleep and slept seven hours until my alarm went off at 8:37am. Of course I finally slept great my second to last night in Memphis. Just ate leftovers in my room for breakfast, since I had finished my meal plan, and caught the 9:30am shuttle over to Graceland. I got my same seat in the front row on the side of the stage for Conversations on Elvis: Elvis in the Movies in the Sound Stage. I was excited for this because I had only seen one of the scheduled guests before so the rest were new to me. A man and his mother asked if they could sit with me, and I said yes of course. They turned out to be the son and wife of the first guest, songwriter Randy Starr, who wrote 12 songs for Elvis’ movies. They were so sweet and so proud and very surprised and impressed at all these people coming together for Elvis.
At 10:08am, Tom Brown introduced Randy Starr. He wrote love songs from Elvis’ movies Kissin Cousins, Double Trouble, Clambake, Paradise Hawaiian Style, Frank and Johnny, Spinout and Live a Little Love a Little. They played some of the demos before and Randy’s wife was the singer on one of them, so he introduced her. She was tickled with that. At 10:30am, Marlyn Mason, who costarred with Elvis in The Trouble with Girls, took the stage wearing the same outfit she was wearing when I saw her at Conversations during the Grand Opening of the Guest House. Marlyn is so funny and full of life. She again told her zipper story. At 10:53am, Pat Priest from Easy Come Easy Go took the stage. She got her role in that Elvis movie right after her role as Marilyn on The Munsters. Pat was really sweet. At 11:15am Laurel Goodwin, who costarred with Elvis in Girls Girls Girls, took the stage. I was really excited to see her as I really like Girls Girls Girls and watch it often, and I have never really heard much about Laurel. I had to admit I was a little disappointed with Laurel because she seemed to me like she felt she was a little above it all, like she was too cool to get excited about Elvis. She never said a mean word about Elvis – no one ever does. Laurel said Elvis was sweet, shy and well mannered, but she was not interested in him romantically and was not all excited to be with Elvis like all the other costars said they were. I just got the feeling Laurel thought she was better than all the other Elvis costars. She even said that she would have never dated or made a life with Elvis because of his entourage and his lifestyle and couldn’t understand why anyone would put up with that. Laurel did say, however, on their two and a half hour drive together to the set, she would make Elvis sing to her the whole way in the back of the limo – she seemed excited about being around Elvis then. At 11:34am, Gary Lockwood took the stage. I was SO excited to see Gary because he was in my second favorite (and rarely talked about) Elvis movie Wild in the Country and costarred with Elvis in It Happened at the World’s Fair. My excitement quickly waned. Gary was SO full of himself, a complete jerk I thought. Again, he never said anything bad about Elvis, but he was bragging about all the women he had been with like Tuesday Weld and Joan Crawford’s daughter and name. He even said Tuesday Weld looked at him and looked at Elvis and picked him – I seriously doubt it. It was the tone he used and the smirk on his when he talked about these women. Gary was name dropping and almost competing with Tom Brown saying I was friends with Jim Morrison and I was real good friends with Ricky Nelson too – again it was his tone. Then Gary said William Shatner was an ass and had a really mean look on his face. After this, I was quite ok that I was going home and missing the screenings of Girls Girls Girls and It Happened at the World’s Fair and Q n A and Meet and Greet with Laurel Goodwin and Gary Lockwood the next day.
At noon, I was over at Vernon’s for my last lunch there, but this time I switched it up a bit and had chicken tenders with two sides (and banana pudding and free sweet tea refill). Side note, the chicken tenders (3 large ones) with 2 sides is two more dollars than the 5 side platter and it’s less food. Caroline joined me for a bit. After I relaxingly toured all the new museums again. I started with the Sam Phillips museum at 1:10pm, since that was really new (it was not there in March) and only my second time through it. At 1:35pm, I was in the Fairgrounds and looking at that exhibit for the first time – I just thought there were games in there. Part of the exhibit was Glady’s Elvis Love Me Tender necklace she wore to Elvis’ return to Tupelo. It was in the Fairgrounds exhibit where I actually heard a grown woman older than me say, “Who is Sam Phyllis?!?” (She obviously meant Sam Phillips since they were walking toward his exhibit.) I thought to myself if you don’t know who Sam Phillips is, you should not call yourself an Elvis fan – luckily I didn’t go up to her and say it to her face. At 1:40pm, I was relaxing on the velvet purple couch in the VIP lounge – and also looking at Elvis’ wallet, rings and guns on display. I bought the new Joe Pettruccio Elvis 70s sunglasses shirt. At 2:15pm, I was in my favorite museum, the Elvis Entertainer Museum. I saw on an Elvis bench in the movies exhibit and watched clips from all 31 movies. The Elvis movies are what introduced me to Elvis when I just a toddler – watching his movies on Sunday afternoons with my mom. I spent a lot of time photographing the 1969 – 1970 exhibit as I have recently realized that although I have always loved the 1950s, my favorite Elvis period is actually the 1970s – especially the 1969-1970 period. Then I found a room that I never saw in March (when I went through three times) when I was here for the Grand Opening and didn’t see the previous Friday (my first day of Elvis Week 2017). It was the Trophy Room with all of Elvis’ awards including his 3 Grammys (I was wondering where they were!) and my favorite The Ten Outstanding Young Men (I just love that acceptance speech video and was also wondering where that was!). After watching it about five times, I went over to the theater, put my feet up (which were still swollen from the candlelight vigil) and sat through the video (spanning performances from Elvis’ career) twice. Luckily I had missed the rain (it poured while I was in there).
At 3:50pm, I was again taking the VIP tour of Graceland. But this time I skipped the intro movie and just put on my headphones and listened to Elvis while went through my five favorite parts of the house. I stayed in the living room (my favorite spot) until 4:13pm. Groups passed me by and I was able to spend some quality alone time in my favorite living room (obsessing over that couch envisioning Elvis sitting on it laughing and talking with his friends) and foyer looking up the staircase imagining Elvis coming down to greet his friends. Instead of going through the rest of the house, I thought I would just hit my favorite spots so I just walked out the front door through the Meditation Garden and backtracked outside to Vernon’s Office, which is my third favorite room after the Living Room and Foyer. I am just obsessed with that 1960 post Army press conference video – watching it in the room where it took place and looking over at the chair Elvis sat in during the press conference. I next walked over to the Racquetball Court and lounge where Elvis spent his last night. I just stared at the piano where Elvis played his last two songs that now play over the loud speaker “Unchained Melody” and “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” Then I made my way over to the Meditation Garden to pay my respects as I was a bit too emotional during the Candlelight Vigil to property do that. As I walking out of the Meditation Garden, “If I Can Dream” came on my iPod – how fitting!
After putting in a full eight hour day at Graceland, I left at 5pm to go back over to the Guest House. Today was a perfect day – everything happened exactly as I had planned. A perfect ending to my Elvis Week. At 6:15pm, I was EPs for dinner. Wasn’t feeling like drinking, so I did not partake in the Happy Hour specials. I got a table and enjoyed the southwest turkey wrap everyone had been raving about with those yummy fries and water. I was back in my room before 7pm reading in the comfy chair enjoying the courtyard view while icing my feet. After a while, I packed for my early morning still dark out flight tomorrow – had to make sure my 24 books fit in my suitcases. All of sudden severe cramps came on (about four days early). I took some ibuprofen and laid down and fell asleep, missing the party in the Ballroom. I woke up just before 10pm and got ready for bed as I had to wake up at 4:40am for my flight.
To see all of my photos from Day 7 of Elvis Week 2017, please click here.
It was a great Elvis Week. For seven days, I did not watch tv and did not read any social media posts or news except for Elvis. It was like I was in an Elvis Bubble for a week, which is a great place to be. My highlights were the two book sales (books are my addiction), finally meeting Linda Thompson (she was super sweet!), getting my photo with Jerry Schilling (his arm around me), Elvis Radio Town Hall with Jerry and Priscilla, following Lisa Marie around the new complex and of course the Candlelight Vigil. Check out my Elvis Week 2017 highlight video below.
I have already made my reservations at the Guest House for Elvis Week next year, but I am staying two more nights – August 9 to August 18. I originally was only going to go to the big anniversaries of Elvis Weeks, which is what I have done in the past except when I lived in Memphis, but something has overtaken me and I must go next year (as well as going for New Year’s and Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival). As much as I love Elvis Weeks, nothing will ever beat the Grand Opening weekend of the Guest House. It was like a mini Elvis Week with similar events (which were free) including Conversations with Jerry and Priscilla, the nighttime tour of Graceland, the Gospel Concert and everyone from the Elvis world just hanging around in the lobby because they were all staying there and all the events were there as well. It was the best and will always be a favorite of mine.