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March 10,  2017  -  VOA Learning English  /   Elvis Express Radio
Elvis Presley sang his last song nearly 40 years ago.

But his home at “Graceland,” where Presley is buried, is expanding. Graceland is just a short drive from the center of Memphis, the second largest city in Tennessee.

A new area, called “Elvis Presley’s Memphis,” just opened on the grounds of the estate. It includes new stores, a hotel, two restaurants and new exhibition center.

The exhibition center has some of the clothing Presley wore while performing, as well as the guitars he played. Visitors also can see some of the cars he once owned.
Priscilla Presley, his former wife, says Elvis Presley’s Memphis will give visitors a better understanding of the man known as the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

Even nearly 40 years after his death at age 42, Presley’s music lives on. His songs are sung by a long list of “Elvis Impersonators,” who perform much like Presley did in the 1950s,
1960s and 1970s. They attempt to recreate the sound and look of “The King.”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, made a list of what it considers Presley’s five most important songs.
They are “That’s All Right,” “Mystery Train,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Don’t be Cruel,” and “Jailhouse Rock.”

Presley appeared in 33 movies, and often performed on television shows.

In its report on Presley’s death, The Washington Post said that Presley’s music captured the increasing rebellion of young people.

In his song,
“In the Ghetto,” Presley sang about paying attention to the struggles of people living in poverty.
“People, don't you understand, the child needs a helping hand
or he'll grow to be an angry young man some day
Take a look at you and me, are we too blind to see,
do we simply turn our heads, and look the other way”

More than 20 million people from all over the world have visited Graceland since it opened in 1982 as a tribute to the late rock star.

But will visitors keep going there as more people who enjoyed his music when he was alive grow older and die off?

Robert Thompson is director of the Bleier Center for Television & Popular Culture at Syracuse University in New York. He predicts Presley will continue to have a large following. He
is part of a group of performers -- including The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby -- who remained popular long after they stopped performing, Thompson

“He (Presley) is one of those historical figures that became part of American folk culture,” Thompson noted.
Fame after death is not guaranteed.

Thompson points out that the two biggest American stars of the 19th century, Sarah Bernhardt and Jinny Lind, are not famous today.

Bernhardt starred in theater productions and some of the earliest films ever produced. Lind, called the “Swedish Nightingale,” was an opera singer who became America’s most
popular singer. Some cities even named schools and bridges in her honor.

One reason Presley is still popular is modern technology. It is very easy to listen to his music on record albums, radio stations, videos and the internet.
resley's song, “Blue Christmas,” gets played over and over again in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Having a place like Graceland will help keep Presley’s memory alive, Thompson said. People who went there as a five-year-old are likely to remember the experience, even if it did
not turn them into fans of Presley, he said.
(above left) Jo Ann Taylor of Louisiana, front right, waits to enter expanded Graceland. (image right) A woman watches the Elvis Presley film "King Creole" in a theater in
the "Elvis Presley's Memphis" complex Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn.