In the post “Oh Yes They Did!” I mentioned that my oldest boy, Jordan, was married to the magnificent Maggie in Nashville, TN a few weeks ago. As I indicated there, something very powerful happened to me that weekend. It clearly was related to the wedding and to how having a married son is making me feel.
Something else happened down there in Nashville.
Years ago I started listening to country music. I don’t remember the trigger event. I just heard it and liked it. Unlike my sons, my taste in music is very visceral and not very cerebral. Now, it is visceral for them as well as it is for anyone who has a passion for music, but they both have an amazing cerebral connection to music and know it and study it. Me, I listen… and, tap my foot.
The Country Music Hall of Fame is in Nashville. A visit there was an activity recommended by my sons who know their dad pretty well, we went. Roaming around this amazing place put me in sensory overload in a good way. I started to have all these waves of emotion wash over me. The “outlaw” singers, Willie, Waylon, Chris, and Johnny have always had that effect on me but also here were Charlie Daniels, Hank Williams Jr. and his dad, Reba, Emmy Lou, Patsy Cline, and on and on.
The museum also offers a tour of studio B. I mentioned this in Customer Service from another angle. I did sit at the piano that Elvis sat at all those times. He recorded close to three hundred songs here. The studio is just as it was when he was there. Most folks were interested, I was somehow captivated. Any of you who practiced singing his songs in front of the mirror in your room in the fifties will understand.
From there we went to the Ryman auditorium, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry. From the glitzy modern building of the hall of fame to a wonderful brick and wooden structure that had been home to so many incredible performances.
Notice in the picture at the left the seats are actually pews. The Ryman was originally a place for preaching. It was built by Captain Tom Ryman and initially named the Union Gospel Tabernacle. Captain Tom, a riverboat man who made a living from gambling and running river boats on the Mississippi went to see the Reverand Samuel P. Jones preach with the intention of confronting him. In just one sitting he was transfixed and ended up creating this wonderful building for Reverand Jones to preach in.
Before the Opry, the Ryman was home to many lofty acts including Helen Hayes, Will Rogers, Harry Houdini, Enrico Caruso, Charlie Chaplin, and Katherine Hepburn.
The Grand Ole Opry came to the Ryman in 1943, my birth year…
Whenever I am in an historic place such as this I can almost feel the presence of all of those wonderful performers. At times like this, I would like to be one of those folks who are more “sensitive” to such things.
We had to leave the Ryman to get ready for an event connected to the wedding. It was a good thing, I was becoming overwhelmed by all the feelings coming up as reflections on different songs and artists brought up so many great memories.
Country music is said to tell stories. Most music does. The stories coming from the outlaws and others, for some reason, appeal very strongly to me. Maybe I am just that basic, maybe I am Barack’s idea of a redneck clinging to my guns and country music. If so, thank god. There I go clinging to god as well, sorry Barack.
There is a cop show on television set in Memphis which is just up the road from Nashville and the home of the King. The protagonist is both cop and a country music singer. Watching it the other night I found the “feelings” for Nashville, its music, and whatever else is creating this connection rising up again.
When we were all in Nashville, Eileen and Dennis, Jordan’s mom and her partner, were listening to a great band in one of the joints on Broadway. In walked a cop in uniform obviously walking his beat. Eileen at first feared that something was wrong. This feeling was quickly dispelled as he jumped up on stage and sang a couple of songs with the band. Then, he got down and left, presumably going back to work.
There is something truly special about a place where that can happen. This was not some open mike night kinda of guy, according Eileen and Dennis, he was great and quite professional.
Three years ago on my return to my home town in NH I needed to get some shoes or some kind of footwear. The most obvious choice was to get some granola shoes or hiking boots so I would fit in to my new home.
Nope. I bought some cowboy boots. This was the first pair I had had in many years. I don’t know what caused it to happen but I suspect that it is related to the Nashville connection that is now churning around inside me.
So the Nashville connection has begun. It needs to be explored and I will return there, soon I hope, but it is also encouraging me to reconnect more strongly with the music that I love so much.
Just an old hippie as the Bellamy brothers say.