I was lying in bed listening to the radio, crying my heart out. It was 1958 (I was in 5th grade) and Elvis was being inducted into the Army. Though not an over-the-top fan, I’ve always like Elvis with his rich sultry voice and innovative style, and that southern charm that flowed so freely every time he opened his mouth.
The Natchez Trace goes right by Tupelo MS where Elvis spent the first 13 years of his life. His family moved to Memphis in 1948, destitute and nowhere to go but up. Eight years later, Heartbreak Hotel hit No. 1 on all three charts – Country, Pop, and Rhythm and Blues. Elvis had arrived!
Elvis was nominated for 14 Grammys, but it was his gospel roots that took him to the winner’s circle three times – two for Amazing Grace (studio and live versions) and He Touched Me.
The Natchez Trace is 444 meandering miles between Natchez and Nashville. Our first stop along this bucolic byway is Jackson MS to see the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum that opened in December 2017. The stories are shocking, even though I’ve heard them before. As the New York Times reported, the museum “refuses to sugarcoat history.” We’ve come a long way, but there’s still a long way to go.
“The movement today for freedom cannot be pushed back anymore than a tidal wave can be pushed back by hand. That which seeks to destroy the freedom of man seeks to destroy the soul of man.” – Medgar Evers, May 31, 1959
Our first trip to Natchez was in 2015 on our Great River Road trip. Perched on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi, it holds its small town southern roots close by being locked up tight on a Sunday afternoon.