Friday, April 15, 2016

Five Things I Learned in Nashville

With Andrea
Nashville might not seem like the most obvious destination for someone who's not a big music person (and definitively not a big country music person).  But neither Andrea nor I had been there, and it's sort of mid-way between New York and Punta Gorda. So off we went.  Here are five things I learned while there:

1)  Nashville is the country's number 1 destination for bachelorette parties.  Try as we might, it was hard to find a music spot on Broadway that was free of exuberant 20- or 30-something women wearing matching shirts and looking for free shots.  They made me feel old and crotchety.

Bill and Andrea
2)  Bill Demain, the guide for our Walkin' Nashville tour, calls country music "the place where Saturday night meets Sunday morning." Since country music's roots lie in the storytelling of Appalachian folk songs and the morality of hymns, this seems like a perfect description.  Further support was found in a lyric we heard that went, "I'm looking for a girl on a Sunday morning who still smells like Saturday night."  The songwriter's inspiration was memories of growing up in a household where his parents didn't care what he did on Saturday night so long as he had his butt in a pew come morning. 

3)  Patsy Cline really, really, really didn't want to record "Crazy," which was written by Willie Nelson. In the early 1960s, Willie used to hang out at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. Tootsie was a big supporter of her singer-songwriter friends and paid for them to make demos that were interspersed with country hits on her jukebox.  One night Cline's husband Charlie was at Tootsie's and heard "Crazy." He hunted Tootsie down and told her Patsy had to record that song. Willie happened to be there, Tootsie made the introduction, and Charlie and Willie headed home to wake up Patsy. (It was 2:30 in the morning. I suspect there might have been some alcohol involved.) When they arrived, Willie played his demo. Patsy took Charlie into the other room.  "It's a terrible song," she said, "And that guy cannot sing." Charlie didn't give up, though.  He played the demo for Patsy's producer, who also loved it.  After much arm-twisting, she agreed to record it, but would only do two takes. Cline grew to like the song after it hit all the Billboard Charts and made her zillions of dollars.

Sam Dunson artwork
 4) Have you ever noticed that the State of Tennessee is shaped like the barrel of a gun?  That's really neither here nor there, but I realized it when I saw a map of the state after viewing this work by Sam Dunson at a Nashville gallery. The guy working there explained that the sculptures depict the three uses of guns: to hunt (hence the wooly fur), to accessorize (complete with bling) and to kill people (funeral flowers).

Jackson Delaney

5) Most of the bands that play in the honkey tonks on Broadway are, in fact, bar bands rather than musicians who are about to hit the big time. (Why we were even a little bit surprised by that is beyond me.)  We were, however, wowed the minute Jackson Delaney opened his mouth.  His resonant voice can go so low it's ridiculous. And I had to buy his CD after he played his original tune "Shotgun Wedding."  Really, how could I resist these lyrics:

Gonna be a finger on the trigger
When her daddy finds out
His baby ain't been eatin'
But she's putting on pounds
Shotgun wedding
And a boy in a bulletproof vest.

To hear the entire song (which you can download on iTunes), click here.

I have a few more Nashvillean tidbits to share, so stay tuned for the next installment. 

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