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DIVING DOWN WITH GLG
ELVIS & THE DUCKS Ruminations From a Trip to Memphis JANUARY 2022
Sixteen years ago, my wife Michelle and another Aussie friend of hers (also named Michelle) drove from Texas to Memphis, Tennessee, and back in a single day. They had two missions: visit Graceland, and see the famous Peabody ducks. Those two things aren’t actually related, apart from both being in Memphis. You probably know that Memphis is where Graceland — Elvis’s house-turned-Disneyland-sized-shrine — is located. But a lot of Texans have never heard of the Peabody ducks. It’s a hilarious tradition! These ducks basically exist to swim in the fountain located in the Peabody Hotel’s lobby. They do their duty from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, and when they’re not “working,” they live in a $200,000 “Royal Duck Palace’’ on the hotel roof! (No, I’m not making this up. You can read all about it at PeabodyMemphis.com/peabody-ducks). Getting the ducks from the roof to the fountain and back is a big, red-carpet affair. An animal trainer escorts them down in the elevator, then walks them to the fountain at 11 a.m. each morning. They do the same dance in reverse at 5 p.m.! Sixteen years ago, Michelle and Michelle got to Memphis just in time to line up with the crowd and cheer on the duck procession. They also visited Graceland to see all things Elvis. That early-2000s trip is on my mind right now because Michelle and I recently visited Graceland ourselves back in November. It was my first time seeing the place, and wow, was it amazing! I felt like I was walking through an Elvis-themed section of Disneyland and had the sore feet to prove it. We saw his famous costumes, his gold records (more than anyone else), the “Jungle Room,” his tomb, his cars, and even his airplanes … plural. I also learned a few fun Elvis facts. For example, did you know that even though Elvis is considered the King of Rock and Roll, he never won a Grammy for a rock song? Instead, he pulled off wins three times for gospel music, including for “How Great Thou Art” and “He Touched Me,” and scored one Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. The Diamond Record certification was even created for Elvis,
the first person to reach 10,000,000 units in sales for one record or album, “Elvis’ Christmas Album.”
Honestly, I’ve never been a huge Elvis fan. My favorite singer is Jimmy Buffett (with Shakira a distant second). I love the way his lyrics can transport me to a different place, where life is stress-free and easy, and there’s nothing to do but sip margaritas on the beach. (The first time I saw Jimmy live in Birmingham, Alabama, I didn’t appreciate him. In fact, I slept through 75% of the show, but that’s a story for another day.) Listening to a Jimmy Buffet song is a bit like that trip Michelle and I took to Memphis: a quick getaway from ordinary life. We all need that escape every once in a while. Even though I’m more of a Jimmy fan than an Elvis fan, I’d have to say Graceland was still worth the visit. It’s an American institution, just like the Statue of Liberty or the Golden Gate Bridge. Quite frankly though, the ducks were much cooler and involved a whole lot less walking! Have you been to Graceland or the Peabody Hotel? Let me know next time we chat. I might even tell you the real reason why I slept through that Jimmy Buffett concert.
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