“When we were down to nothing, nothing sure looked good on you”—Nothing Sure Looked Good on You, performed by Gene Watson
“She really worked me over good; she was a credit to her gender. She put me through some changes, Lord, sort of like a Waring blender.”—Poor, Poor Pitiful Me, written by Warren Zevon and performed by Terri Clark
“You can run on for a long time, run on for a long time… Sooner or later God’ll cut you down.” –God’s Gonna Cut You Down, Traditional Folk Song performed by Johnny Cash
The three lyrics above are a sampling of the time we spent last week in Music City–Nashville, Tennessee. The first lyric is from a 1980 country hit and represents classic country music songs that often had great humorous lyrics. We heard Gene Watson perform it last week at the Grand Ole Opry.
The second lyric was written by one of Ed’s favorite songwriters—Warren Zevon. Ed believes that anyone who can write a lyric that rhymes “gender” with “Waring blender” is clearly a genius. Poor, Poor Pitiful Me represents the common crossover between pop/rock and country music—it was a pop hit for Linda Ronstadt in 1977 and a country hit for Terri Clark in 1996. We saw Terri perform it last week, also at the Opry.
The last lyric is a traditional folk song that was recorded by Johnny Cash and released on his last album in 2003. We visited the Johnny Cash Museum and one of the exhibits was a video made for the song in 2006, three years after Cash’s death. The video, which won a Grammy, includes many celebrities with several, like Keith Richards, who seem to contradict the song’s lyrics. Here’s a link to the video: https://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJlN9jdQFSc#t=52
Nashville is a big city, with many tall buildings hovering over its famous music venues and the State Capitol Building. But it is still relatively pedestrian-friendly and you can tour most of the places of interest by walking.
The world-famous Ryman Auditorium—built in 1892 as the Union Gospel Tabernacle, it is most famous as being the home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 until 1974. It still hosts performances by a variety of musical artists. In December 1945, Bill Monroe brought a new band to the Ryman that included Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt, and created a new type of music that became known as “Bluegrass”.
Patty at the new home of the Grand Ole Opry—you have to get your picture taken in front of the giant guitar (if you prefer, there is also a giant electric guitar).
Live at the Grand Ole Opry. We weren’t sure if we would enjoy the Opry but it was great. We saw six acts and the music included traditional county, bluegrass, and country hits currently on the charts. One thing you can count on if you go to a performance in Nashville—the musicians will be unbelievably good.
The Grand Ole Opry started as a radio show in 1925 and is radio’s longest-running radio program. In between performers, the emcee fills in with a variety of announcements and ads like the one above for paper towels. It is broadcast on WSM in Nashville and can also be heard on opry.com—at our show there was a large contingent of fans from Great Britain and Ireland who listen to the Opry on the internet.
Broadway is the traditional place to be for music in Nashville. The Ryman Auditorium is in the back left and world-famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge is in the middle front. Legend has it that when Hank Williams performed at the Ryman, he would sneak out the back and head over to Tootsie’s for a couple of drinks before returning. Sadly, that would help explain why he was kicked out of the Grand Ole Opry and died at the age of 29.
One of the good things about Broadway is that the music starts as early as 11:00 am. This is very good for old folks like us who don’t want to stay out late. Here we are listening to a happy hour show at Robert’s Western World.
Another sign of a genius—the Nashville Pedal Tavern allows patrons to drink while peddling themselves around town. The only thing we could not determine was who was steering.
One of the great things about Broadway and the surrounding area is the variety of unique neon signs.
The Parthenon in Nashville’s Centennial Park. When the woman at the visitor’s center suggested that we should not miss the Parthenon our reaction was: “Say what?” Nashville is sometimes known as the “Athens of the South” because it has 24 schools of higher education. Constructed as a temporary structure for the 1897 Tennessee Exposition, the Parthenon was so popular that the City rebuilt it as a permanent structure, which opened in 1931.
Patty patrolling the Parthenon
The statue of Athena inside the Nashville Parthenon is 42 feet tall. No one knows exactly what the original statue in Athens looked like but that did not stop Nashvillians from having one made. Why would you ever go to Greece? The original Parthenon is falling apart and has no statue.
A close-up of Athena—we do know that the original statue in Athens was constructed of ivory and gold. The Nashville version is covered with gold leaf.
Ed outside the Parthenon–it is the only full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in the world.
We also visited the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s home and plantation, just outside of Nashville. If you are interested in history, this is one of the best-preserved historical homes from the mid-1800’s we have ever visited (the wallpaper is 178 years old). A lot of the tour is outside so go when the weather is nice.