Today, Jennifer takes us on another leg of our Southern roadtrip: our visit to the legendary Sun Studio. I’ll post my own observation tomorrow, but we had to share Jennifer’s wonderful photos with you all.
On Tuesday of last week, we put the road back in road trip and voyaged up to Memphis to see Sun Studio and Graceland.
It is no exaggeration to say that rock and roll as we know it began here in a ragged room on a run down corner in Memphis. Today it is both an active recording studio and a museum.
This is a reconstruction of the office of Marion Keisker, the lady who recorded Elvis Presley singing for the very first time, and, more importantly, kept a copy of the recording to share with Sam Phillips. We got to hear it during our tour, a little bit scratchy and rough but undeniably The King. I felt a little bit like I did when I watched Streetcar Named Desire for the first time, having to remind myself how new and different his voice and presence would have been, how it would have been a kind of lightening strike.
Some of the guitars lined up against the wall, which are, from what I gather, used by musicians who record in there at night, after the tour groups leave. The room is full of pictures of Elvis and also of other luminaries who recorded there – Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Bono – and I ultimately couldn’t decide if I thought that would be intimidating or encouraging for new acts.
And finally, the drumset, surrounded by Elvis, and in the foreground, a mic that was used by numerous early artists at Sun, including, possibly, Elvis Presley. The guide had hauled it out for purpose of Photo Opportunities, which some of our fellow tour members indulged in, and others did not. It was an interesting moment, both for the people trying to recreate a very specific kind of magic with various levels of success, and the microphone itself. It is simultaneously one of the many props in the floating Elvisland that is Memphis, a relic, a simple piece of machinery, and a tangible piece of the history of the place that all of us could touch with our own hands. Look at it long enough, and you can almost hear him inhaling, getting ready to launch into Hound Dog, and set the girls’ hearts a-flutter.