Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Tours in Memphis, Tennessee

One of the highlights of our recent trip to Memphis was the bus tour with Backbeat Tours. It is a funky old bus, updated, decorated with a music theme, and the tour guide is a working Memphis musician. This tour is the outstanding choice in the area, no matter which traditional tour your hotel recommends. They are informed, fun, share all kinds of trivial information about Memphis and the music scene, accompanied by a live musical performance. Obvously, most of their tours focus on music, but you do see the sights of the mid-South as well.
Our tour was to Graceland, and our guide was Memphis Jones. We saw the location of Elvis' Draft Board and his favorite barbershop enroute to his former home, which is quite a booming business enterprise. There are bongos and tambourines on board for those who want to participate in the music (I did.)
We had so much fun and learned so much about rock 'n roll during our bus ride -- do you know what the first rock 'n roll song was??? If not, take a tour with Backbeat Tours in Memphis. I am hoping I will get to go back --- while we are there, we intend to eat at Rendevous Barbecue and the Flying Fish again.
But, no matter what else you do, no visit to Memphis would be complete without seeing the National Civil Rights Museum. Your first visit will be emotional, and unexpected, for when you the spot (marked with a wreath) where Martin Luther King was shot, you have your breath taken away for a moment.
The museum walks you through the Civil Rights struggle, building emotion and passion until you end up in the room at the Lorraine Hotel where he spent his last hours. You see the bus where Rosa Parks sat; a representative lunch counter where all the protests were held; the actual burned Freedom bus, replica jail cells and signs/placards/posters too numerous to mention. I particulary noted a flyer of hotels that catered to the black community, listing, of course, the Lorraine Hotel. The heading was "Enjoy a vacation free of humiliation." That kind of stuck with me.
Then, you cross the street, and view it from the alleged shooter perspective. There was a display profiling all the conspiracy theories that were considered in this murder investigation. The world lost a man with passion that day -- I noted that he did not just talk about creating change; he was alongside all of those folks making the change. He was a do-er, and we left that place wanting to make the world better.
That was the dream, I guess, and it is still a dream.