Graceland and the Spirit of Elvis 35 Years Later

The surprising thing about Graceland is that it’s more of a home than a mansion. I thought it might be a Versailles of sorts, a personal palace befitting the King of Rock and Roll, but mostly it just felt like a home. That made me like Elvis even more.

The decor it’s known for is a bit on the outrageous side, but it doesn’t feel overly decadent or opulent. The kitchen looks like a regular 1970s kitchen, complete with carpeted floors and laminate counters. According to the tour tape, Elvis spent most of his time in the kitchen. It’s a cozy place, remarkable only because of its homey feel.

In Life & Cuisine of Elvis Presley, David Adler mentions that Elvis wrote out lists of items to be kept in the Graceland kitchen at all times, including peanut butter, pickles, banana pudding, brownies, and three packs each of Spearmint, Doublemint, and Juicy Fruit gum.

Graceland is one of the most visited private homes in the United States, after the White House, with more than 600,000 visitors a year. The home has been left as it was at the time of Elvis’ death. It’s a peek into his personal life as well as a museum dedicated to his music and public persona.

In the Jungle Room, a teddy bear sits on the couch near a guitar. It’s easy to imagine Elvis relaxing and joking around there. A television room in the basement gave him the chance to relax some more while watching three television sets at once.

It’s estimated that Elvis has sold more than one billion records worldwide. His gold and platinum records line the hallways, but even more impressive is a room covered with personal checks of $1,000 or more written to local charities.

His car collection is kept across the street and includes his famous pink Cadillac. At the car museum, a home movie plays showing Elvis and his daughter zooming around the Graceland grounds on a snowmobile. Since they didn’t get much snow in Memphis, he added wheels to the snowmobile. The movie shows the kid in Elvis since he uses small hills as ramps to launch the snowmobile into the air.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of Elvis’ death. If he had lived, he would be 77 years old. Every day, fans bring flowers, wreaths, and pictures to the Graceland meditation garden where Elvis is buried along with his parents and grandmother. A memorial gravestone for Elvis’ twin brother, who died at birth, is also in the garden.

According to a tour guide, Elvis was originally buried in the Forest Hill Cemetery but soon after his death people actually tried to dig him up, which is why his body was moved to the Graceland meditation garden. With all the rumors surrounding the death of Elvis and the possibility that he might still be alive, perhaps the gravediggers were hoping to find an empty coffin.

Elvis still lives through his music. His spirit can be felt at Graceland, at Sun Studio, and in the streets of Memphis. For evidence that he is still alive, all anyone has to do is listen to one of his songs.