Up until the long July 4th weekend, neither Ray nor I had ever been to Nashville. (Crazy. Like the Willie Nelson song, rendered perfectly by Patsy Cline.)
We hit Music City with tickets to see Morrissey at Ryman along with a long list of things we wanted to see and do - The Nashville Cats Dylan and Cash exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Grand Ole Opry, Jack White's studio and record store, the strip of honky tonks on Broadway. (Mostly I just liked saying honky tonks.)
Though Morrissey could perhaps be nominated for artist least likely to
find a home in Nashville, seeing him at Ryman was phenomenal. His voice
was as smooth as it was when I first discovered him in high school (be
still my angsty teen-age heart) and the acoustics at Ryman really are
what everyone says they are - spectacular.
The show was tremendous. We
loved every second of it.
And at the end he ripped his shirt off and threw it into the crowd. We were maybe 15 rows back. No fair.
That night we hit the Broadway strip of bars and restaurants. I was surprised at how touristy it was. I don't know why, I guess it makes sense, but I was expecting it to be a more authentic Nashville of hungry, up-and-coming musicians looking to make names for themselves. But there were a few spots on the strip that were less touristy.
Regardless, there was a lot to see and a lot going on, like in this photo of me with three of my new best friends... and those girls sobbing in the left of the frame.
Even cowgirls get the blues, ok, y'all?
I'm pretty hard core with my drinks too. Water is not for the weak of heart.
We spent the next morning at the Country Music Hall of Fame, mostly because I wanted to check out the Dylan and Cash exhibit. It was ok. Nothing to write a country and western song about.
I did enjoy this quote from Bob on his comrade though.
The Country Music Hall of Fame is mostly a bunch of sequined performance outfits from myriad country stars. It's not all that interesting unless you like that sort of thing. It certainly doesn't capture the heart and soul of a good ol' heartbreaker or good timin' tune.
The museum did have that sweet angel Dolly Parton's hand-written lyrics to Jolene though.
The museum would go a long way to guide visitors through country music hall of fame with, well, actual music, instead of outfits. The message would be more true.
But in another part of the Country Music Hall of Fame building is Hatch Show Print, the letterpress poster shop that's been in Nashville since 1879, creating, carving and inking posters one at a time since then. It's pretty remarkable.
Between me being a type/design lover and Ray being a woodworker (many of the letters and designs are carved into wood before inking), we were in heaven.
If you want to see what a modern day letterpress inker looks like, look no further. This is me after inking my poster. After the tour they give you a Hatch Show Print flyer to ink. It pretty fun and was definitely a highlight of Nashville for us.
Hatch Show Print also has a cat on the premises. He's orange. He was
sleeping in a chair when we were there, probably because he had a hard
day of guarding the old equipment and knocking wood letters off
Before we headed out of town we hit up Third Man Records, Jack White's recording label, studio and record store.
You probably already know this part because you've already bought our single, but Ray and I recorded a 45 while we were there. It's huge in Europe and about to take Japan.
For $15 you can slip into the recording booth (it was about the size of a phone booth), and lay down some tracks. I snuck around behind Ray's back to buy us a recording session thinking Ray would be super pumped about it. (He likes to sing in the car, so I assumed he'd be pretty pumped to capture that on a 45.)
Instead he was like, "What? What am I supposed to sing? I don't want to."
Not exactly the excited reaction I had anticipated. No matter. We decided to do a duet instead and sang "Friends in Low Places," since that is the only song we both know the words to and it's a pretty fun karaoke country jam.
I figured Jack White would come out from behind a closed door somewhere and ask us if we have a record deal or maybe see if we wanted to jam with him in the studio, but never came out. He's probably on tour. I'm sure when he gets back he'll hear our record and give us a call. (Call me, Jack, I love you.)
Here's our record. If you come over to our house I'll play it over and over again for you. I know you are excited.
Listening pleasure of our record, naturally.
Our final night we went to the Grand Ole Opry. Meh. It's definitely old but not very grand. And it's way out in the 'burbs and shares a parking lot with a big mall. I thought it'd be this rollicking good time of myriad country singers - banjos! fiddles! harmonicas! maybe some hay! Nope. It was pretty much a snoozefest.
That's about it from Nashville. I'd recommend the Ryman, Hatch Show Print, Third Man Records and a night or two on Broadway. If I were you I'd skip the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry and instead spend that time at Layla's Bluegrass Inn.