…and the band plays on…
Nashville had already been good to me, but my time in The Music City was not coming to an end, nor was my time of being taken care of by its residents. After a library stop, I continued to my next Nashville hosts, Tricia and Riley.
Tricia is a native Norfolkan. Her family (the Dodsons) and mine (the Andersons) are entwined in many ways. I believe between our families that we represent five consecutive graduating classes of Norfolk Senior High. Tricia is good friends with my sister, Elise, and apparently a good enough friend with me to offer a place to stay. 🙂
Thursday, October 26th (cont.)
Riley and their beloved dog, Mick, were home when I arrived. After brief pleasantries, Riley and I got down to “business.” He is a music producer and has a studio built into his basement. Music, especially the production side, is a real interest of mine so I was eager to hear what he had been working on.
He is extremely talented, not just in the technical side of production, but in the creative side as well. He co-writes with most of the artists with whom he works. This is a recent song he co-wrote and produced
We had a quiet evening in (seems like a rarity in this town!) and I enjoyed catching up with them.
Friday, October 27th
I’d already experienced the city quite thoroughly, but there was still more to see in the area. Additionally, I was still searching for the picture that would represent the place.
I had a lazy morning and spent some time with Tricia and Riley before they took off. My ride into the city wasn’t too bad, but I believe Nashville might be considering changing its nickname from the Music City to the Distracted Driving City. It seems like most citizens are wholeheartedly taking up this cause. Witnessing a signaled lane change feels like finding a four leaf clover.
I tried to find the best picture possible of the State Capitol. Looking across the mall, through the WWII memorial was pretty good.
(pic at top)
I continued to the NE side of town to take some pictures at the Grand Ole Opry.
My photographer couldn’t decide whether to hold the cigarette in his hand or mouth, resulting in the skewed frame. 🙂
Next were a couple of sentimental stops. The two most notable singers of the song, Hank Snow and Johnny Cash, are buried in the area. I felt compelled to pay respects to the men who had inspired this trip.
Hank is buried a short drive from the Grand Ole Opry. This is fitting, since it was his childhood dream to appear on its stage.
His tombstone is simple and modest.
Mr. Cash was up next. He is buried in his hometown of Franklin, TN which is about 30 minutes NE of the city.
His resting place is a simple one as well.
I had heard that Johnny’s house was in the area. I plugged it into my phone and found an address a few miles from the cemetery. There were no road signs indicating the place and I drove right passed it. It turns out that it was closed to the public.
As I was taking a couple pictures and debating whether to ignore the sign warning of 24 hour armed security, I got a phone call from my new friend, Bo, the local authority on all things Johnny Cash. Travis, my first Nashville host, had been wearing a shirt saying “I Remember Johnny Cash,” which Bo sold during his touring days. Acquiring one of these was an absolute necessity.
As we planned a place to meet up, he told me the story of what happened. After Barry Gibb, a member of the Bee Gees, had purchased the home, a fire consumed the property. Most of the memorabilia from Cash’s life was lost. Bo opined that the ghost of Johnny Cash was the one who started the fire. In some ways, it does seem fitting. 🙂
Bo and I decided to meet at my next stop, the Johnny Cash museum. I’ve got to be honest, I was not super excited to go there. About a week prior, I had sent a lengthy email to the museum telling them what I was doing and asking if they had someone I could talk to who might know more about Johnny’s connection to “I’ve Been Everywhere.”
The response was not rude, but it wasn’t super helpful:
I have no idea where “February” came from.
Maybe I was expecting a response similar to the one I received from the wonderful people at the Hank Snow museum before I arrived there. I guess not every experience can be an amazing one. I’m nobody special.
I eventually found a parking spot just off of Broadway and met up with Bo. He took some good pictures of me in front of the museum, including some with the iconic AT&T tower (AKA the Batman building) in the background. This building is incorporated into the design on his website: BetterKnowBo.com
I also heard a story of how Bo accidentally set the flower holder at Johnny Cash’s grave on fire. The man has a story for everything.
So just remember: If you get into legal trouble in the music city, you’d better know Bo!
The museum was a little pricey, $18 if I recall correctly. They do a good job with what they have and tell Johnny’s story well. I asked a couple of the staff if there was any memorabilia connected with “I’ve Been Everywhere,” but neither of them knew of anything.
Coincidentally, this is normally how I am introduced too:
Maybe it’s just because I am a crazy Jesus person, but I would have loved to hear more about his spiritual journey. Cash survived years of drug abuse and even a suicide attempt. His survival of this was one of the events that led him to a spiritual awakening.
There is also an intersection between Cash’s spirituality and Hank Snow. A pivotal point of his rededication was responding to an altar call from the Reverend Jimmie Rodgers Snow, Hank Snow’s son. Another crazy connection between the two most notable singers of this song.
I was probably most struck by the exhibit at the end of the museum. There are multiple screens playing Cash’s music video for “Hurt,” along with a number of items used therein.
This song, originally recorded by rock band Nine Inch Nails, is a dark ballad. There is something almost eerie about the video, as if Cash knows that his end is near. Indeed, he would pass away the next year. As I find myself struggling to analyze what makes this video so powerful, I’ve decided it would just be better to show it:
If you don’t feel anything when watching that, check your pulse.
I left the museum with a couple stickers for Annie. Hank finally has some company on the left side case. 🙂
Titans stadium from the pedestrian bridge:
One last ride down Broadway:
Time for another Nashville night!
Riley has produced and co-wrote for a band called Family Force 5 for a number of years. They happened to be playing a show that night. First up was some Nashville hot chicken (I got mild because I’m Swedish). They bought me a great supper at Hattie B’s.
We jogged through pouring rain, trying to find where the band was playing. The venue was a neat place with seating above the stage. It was a great show.
….but now I kind of want to get a keytar.
It was also really interesting to hear Riley’s diagnosis post-show. He definitely knows his stuff!
Saturday, November 28th
Tricia and Riley decided to spoil me one last time with a delicious brunch. Tricia works as a producer and editor for the video department of the travel company Lonely Planet. Their office is in an area called “The Factory” which used to be a stove making factory. It has now been reconditioned to include lots of shops and eating establishments.
I got the Southern classic, chicken and waffles:
Back at their place, it was time for Annie tattoos and the Nashville signing ceremony.
(I did lick Tricia’s dog once….and only once)
We also formed a biker gang and terrorized the neighborhood with our hoodlum activities.
They just recently got the 49cc Honda scooter and have been enjoying it. Tricia talked about how great it is when someone gives her the “motorcycle wave.” 🙂
Riley made me an offer that I don’t think I can refuse: To record a version of the song once my trip concludes. I had already thought of doing this, considering I will be the first person who can sing it honestly (as far as I know). The music, synced with pictures of each place, could be a lot of fun. Having it professionally produced will be awesome! I’ve already been working out an arrangement in my head….
Uff Da! I can’t sum up my experience here in a paragraph, so I’m not even going to try. Can you tell I’m a great writer? I’ll merely say, “Thank you for rocking, Nashville!”
Keep a song in your heart, everybody!
Realtime update: I’m in South Carolina. I’m doing well other than feeling a bit behind