Memphis, TN – “COPS, SAVIORS OR SATANISTS?”-Newby’s – May 18, 1999

There’s a moment, right? A precise moment when a landscape changes around you, enveloping you in a whole new dimension. It hit us full force as Aerosmith’s “Walk this Way” on the radio was abruptly replaced by a show debating the morality of cops in biblical proportions. “COPS, SAVIORS OR SATANISTS?” – and just like that, we knew we’d entered the deepest part of the bible belt.

Dellucci, our cultural tour guide was excessively caffeinated having roused us at dawn in preparation for a full day of Memphis sightseeing. In the morning we visited Graceland which was both shiny and candy-like AND a little moth-ball-y and creepy-town. I mean, one minute you’re in the perfectly preserved shimmering “The Jungle Room” marveling at Pricila’s lively choice of palm prints, and the next, your eyes drift out to a headstone on the lawn where Elvis is literally lying, buried alongside his mum and grandmum for god sakes. Heebie Jeebies abound! Shoulder to shoulder, we shuffled from room to room, clutching our audio guides like lifelines, stealing glances of rock history through the gaps in the crowd. I came away feeling slightly hollow. I got the sense poor Elvis’s home was a museum long before he ever moved out onto the front lawn.

Our afternoon was crowned by a visit to iconic Sun Studios where Howlin’ Wolf, Jerry Lee Lewis, and other greats got their start. I was midway through a cell phone interview when we pulled up to the museum so I invited the journalist on the other end of the line to accompany us into the birthplace of rock-n-roll – a virtual first for him.

Tired and sunburnt (with literal red necks) we wound up the day at Newby’s – quintessentially a bar in every sense. Our first set was Chinese water torture for us, with people talking so loudly we could bearly hear ourselves up on stage. But when songs ended, these same people would clap and cheer as though they were inspired and moved by every word I’d uttered. Now, I don’t consider myself a particularly sensitive artist. I mean I’ve played directly underneath a TV broadcasting the World Series at a sports bar, but I can fairly say that this was a more difficult crowd to engage. I’ve never felt quite that invisible before.

Thankfully, as the night evolved, so did the energy in the bar. The second set brought the crowd to life, with grooves that got people dancing – a rare sight at Newby’s, according to Mimi, the barmaid who grabbed a CD, too proud to take her discount.

I did have a guardian angel who stood off of stage right and sang along with every word on the album. She was gone by set break but whoever you were dear angel, thank you for buoying my spirits and keeping me going when I thought I might just have to up and quit.

Reader interactions

2 Replies to “Memphis, TN – “COPS, SAVIORS OR SATANISTS?”-Newby’s – May 18, 1999”

  1. I love reading these Sally. I marvel at your writing skills Very much like you mom’s. Makes us feel like we’re right there with you! Thanks for the journey.

    1. Hey Sylvia,
      I’m honored you think I share some of my mama’s divine writing skills and still more honored you took the time to write. Thank you for sightseeing around Memphis with me.

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