Saturday, July 12, 2008


First visit to Tupelo, Mississippi, August, 1982:

[My sister Linda's notes are sparse here:]

Bynum Indian Mounds (700 A.D.), Natchez Trace. Small, almost conical mounds (proto-burial mounds).

Tupelo Fields -- neat small groovy park, site of Confederate attack [in 1864] . . . 2 miles from birthplace of Elvis Presley on Hwy 6. [One of the most helpful short biographies I've read since then is Bobbie Ann Mason's Elvis Presley, 2002, part of the Penguin Lives series now].

On to Brices Crossroads [American Civil War battle, 1864]. Stinky country (literally). Brices Crossroads a quiet spot like South Lowell [N.C.] -- old oak churchyard, dusk. Baldwin has a museum.

[Tupelo is featured in songs by John Lee Hooker ("Tupelo," 1960), Van Morrison ("Tupelo Honey," 1971), and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds ("Tupelo") Cave's version of the birth of Elvis in Tupelo (creepy and unsetlling) first came out in 1985.

Hooker's version is a variation on traditional blues takes recalling the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and Tupelo's horrific tornadic disaster of April 5-6, 1936. It goes in part like this:

The great flood of Tupelo, Mississippi

Did you read about the flood? It happened long time ago, in a little country town, way back in Mississippi

It rained and it rained, it rained both night and day

The people got worried, they began to cry, "Lord have mercy, where can we go now?"

There were women and there was children, screaming and crying, "Lord have mercy and a great disaster, who can we turn to now, but you?"

It happened one evenin', one Friday evenin', a long time ago, it rained and it started rainin'

The people of Tupelo, out on the farm gathering their harvest,

a dark cloud rolled, way back in Tupelo, Mississippi, hmm, hmm . . .].

[After we left Tupelo in 1982, we headed on down the line, aiming to reach Shiloh, Tennessee, by the next day.]

Booneville, Mississippi. Sad bebop, old generation, age 17.

Corinth, Mississippi at the Southern Hotel [Southern Motel] for $18.00 . . .

Today's Rune: Journey.


the walking man said...

EEEEELLLLLVussss has left the building.

Beyond the pain of it's physical destruction Tupelo, for such a small town, could be said to have birthed major influences in modern cultural life eh?

JR's Thumbprints said...

I'd rather listen to Van Morrison than Elvis any day of the week--unless, of course, we're talkin' about Costello. Still Van Morrison rocks.

Palbo said...

-¡Hay cabecitas de pescado! -¡Hay café!

Charles Gramlich said...

I've been to Tupelo. Spent a long two weeks there one night.