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Walkin' In Memphis by Hawkeye Pete Egan B.
 

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  • We have a bunch of towering Oak Trees all around our house. Oaks produce acorns. This time of year, acorns fall out of oak trees. And fall…and fall…and fall… Kathy wants a hard-hat to wear when she puts Cajun out back to take care of business. Cajun wants a doggie hard hat, and full suit of body armor. It’s nuts out there!

    Last night, it sounded like someone was having a wild party in the attic, as those acorns kept crashing onto the roof, the ones falling from 30 -50 feet up. It was hard to get to sleep with all that racket! After a spell, the cadence of it finally lulled me to sleep. I wanted to get a good night’s sleep if I could – I rarely get more than 5 – 5 ½ hours on a week night, but I’m travelling today, and I wanted to be well rested.

    I actually did get a good, long sleep, close to 8 hours – it’s been months since I slept that long at a stretch. I had a compelling dream, one that I only remembered the feeling of when I first awoke, but the rest of it slowly came back to me as I sat and contemplated my first cup o’ Joe. It was kind of like walking out of a fog, then turning around and walking back into the fog. It’s been like that, as I strive to remember my dreams and journal about them upon awakening. More often than not, all I get is the fog, but can never establish the details of the dreams. Every now and again, I get lucky.

    In this one, I found myself in Memphis, Tennessee. Today, I will actually be boarding a plane to Memphis for the weekend, for a Board meeting there. Memphis – land of the delta blues. The land of Kings. So many songs written about, and in, Memphis. What is it about that place that inspires so much? It seems like kind of an ordinary place when you first go there. Ah, but, Memphis has some interesting ghosts. A couple of them showed up in my dream last night. “Welcome to Memphis!”

    I was strolling down Union Avenue with an old friend, Joseph, who I’d worked with on the N.A. Basic Text that I’ve talked about in previous stories. Joseph was from Memphis, and had been part of Elvis’ entourage for awhile, back in the day. He didn’t talk about that much, but a couple of times, late at night in the middle of a Literature Conference, stepping outside for a breath of fresh air, some of the stories leaked out. Joseph was a shy, soft-spoken guy. It was a very strange, unusual world that would be revealed when he got to talkin’ about it.

    But, back to the dream. We weren’t even talking or thinking about Elvis in the dream, just walkin’ up the avenue, when up ahead we saw this guy climbing a fence, with a guitar strapped to his back, and our friend Terica was helping him up, giving him a boost to get over the top. They were both laughing their asses off and having a hard time of it. Joseph stopped, pointed and said, “Hey, they’re breaking into Graceland – we gotta stop them! Come on!” We both went running up the avenue towards the intruders, but by the time we got there, they were both on the grounds of Graceland, still laughing and stumbling about.

    Joseph called out to them, “Hey, what are you two doing there? That’s sacred ground, man!” The guy with the guitar turned around, and it was a young Bruce Springsteen – The Boss! Bruce said, “Yeah, I know, man, that’s why I came here - to worship. To celebrate the King. Come on, join us!” The girl, who I’d thought was my friend from N.A. days, Terica, had turned into Janis Joplin. She just cackled and started singing the song, “Get It While You Can” (I usually don’t have musical dreams).

    Joseph was having a really hard time getting over the wall. He still wasn’t too keen on the idea, but it was Bruce and Janis, it’s not everyday that they invite you to hang out with them. I was trying to give Joe a boost, but he was too heavy, and we both kept falling back down. We were not laughing. It hurt like hell every time he fell back down on me.

    Then, as if the dream didn’t already have enough celebrity presence, here came strolling down Union Avenue none other than the man in black, Johnny Cash. He said he was looking for Bob Dylan. I said we were trying to catch up to Bruce and Janis. He smiled warmly and said, “Really? Now, there’s an odd couple!”

    That’s all I remember of the dream.

    Looking forward to going to Memphis. I’ve been there thrice. The first two times were for Thanksgiving in 1981 and 1982. There were literature conferences there, when we were still working on the book and celebrating thanksgiving together. The third time was 1991, with Kathy and Jonathon (J.B.) – we’d visited Graceland, then. I remember being struck by how small the “mansion” actually was. It seemed tiny. And, the 70’s décor was downright embarrassing, remembering how bad tastes were, then. It was not what I was expecting for the home of the King of Rock and Roll. Conway Twitty actually had a much cooler home in Nashville, which we visited later on that same trip.

    One of my favorite Memphis songs is this one, by Marc Cohn – “Walkin’ in Memphis”:

    Put on my Blue Suede Shoes, and I boarded the plane
    Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues, in the middle of the pouring rain…
    W.C. Handy, won’t you look down over me
    Yeah I got a first class ticket, but I’m as blue as a boy can be

    Then I’m walking in Memphis, was walking with my feet 10 feet off of Beale
    Walking in Memphis, but do I really feel the way I feel?

    Saw the ghost of Elvis on Union Avenue
    Followed him up to the gates of Graceland, then I watched him walk right through
    Now security they did not see him, they just hovered ‘round his tomb
    But there’s a pretty little thing, waiting for the king down in the Jungle Room

    Then I was walking in Memphis, walking with my feet 10 feet off of Beale
    I was walking in Memphis, but do I really feel the way I feel?

    They’ve got catfish on the table, they’ve got gospel in the air
    And Reverend Green be glad to see you, when you haven’t got a prayer
    ….boy, you’ve got a prayer in Memphis…

    Now, Muriel plays piano every Friday at the Hollywood
    And they brought me down to see her, and they asked me if I would
    To do a little number, and I sang it with all my might
    She said, “Tell me, are you a Christian, child?”, and I said “Ma’am, I am tonight!”

    And I was walking in Memphis, was walking with my feet 10 feet off of Beale
    I was walking in Memphis, but do I really feel the way I feel?

    Put on my Blue Suede shoes and I boarded the plane
    Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues, in the middle of the pouring rain….

    Looking forward to an interesting time in Memphis this weekend. I hope it doesn’t rain.
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