Nashville, the “Music City;” Plus, a little Jack Daniel

April 25, 2011

For people into Country Western, Nashville is “Where It’s At,” where lots of very famous musicians and performers got their start, where “Grand Ole Opry” has existed forever. We started our Nashville tour with a trip to the old Ryman Theater, where Grand Ole Opry used to be staged before moving to its newer venue in Opryland. Here’s Jane in front of the Ryman:

Wait! Who’s that on the mike? Looks like John himself, taking over the stage? 😉 The Ryman was and is a great venue for performers, it is said to have “perfect” acoustics, second only maybe to the LDS Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. (Where most Country Western folks are NEVER gonna perform, no doubt!)

But not to let the moment pass, John took the opportunity to cut a Ryman CD of his own, right there in the Ryman recording studio. Hey, for $15, ANYONE can be a star! Though the CD itself, a recording of “Amazing Grace,” won’t make the CM charts, it was fun to try anyway.

The Ryman is a big old theater with pew-like wooden seats, no doubt stimulating a move to a larger more comfortable venue. Here’s the sound engineer’s view of the Ryman stage:

After leaving the Ryman, we strolled over to the Hatch Letterpress Print shop, a printer who uses truly ancient printing methods to create posters and flyers that really personify the Country Music genre, for at least one example: 

We were to see some brilliant examples of the Hatch printing process later on in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and you can follow our visit in our daily gallery as well.

Next day we headed down to Lynchburg, the site of the Jack Daniel Distillery. It’s one of the largest distillers on Earth. We learned there that Whiskey can only be called “Tennessee Whiskey” IF and only IF, it’s been filtered by charcoal in the distillation process.

We took the guided tour of the Jack Daniel Distillery, and along the way, had our picture taken with Jack himself, though Jack has actually been dead for 100 years. AND, Jack was only 5’2″ tall, so the sculptor took some liberties with height in creating his replica of the Man. Jack Daniel Distillery creates most popularly the Old No. 7 label, and we also made acquaintance with “Gentleman Jack,” distinguished from #7 by going through another stage of charcoal filtering in its process.

One thing about this region of the “mid-South,” it was a hotbed of Civil War hostilities; many lives from both the Union and the Confederacy were lost in battles nearby. One good example we found as we visited, later in the day, the Carnton Plantation, near Franklin. You can see images telling some of this fascinating story in our gallery; take a look if you’re interested.

Friday night, we took in a “taping” of Grand Ole Opry, which was broadcast worldwide on Saturday night. The show starts at 7:00 PM and ends around 9:15 PM, give or take. A lotta fun. One of the stock headliners is Little Jimmy Dickens, shown on the monitor above. Jimmy, who brought down the house with some VERY funny lines, is 90 years young and still going strong. Amazing. The show was fun to see; you can share other experiences of ours in today’s gallery, wouldn’t you know? 😉

Next day, we went to the Country Music Museum and Hall of Fame, and spent 2-3 hours there. Much is recanted in our gallery. Shown here is a wall covered with gold and platinum records, flanked by Tammy Wynette on the left, Hank Williams on the right. There’s certainly more to see in our gallery, but one overriding theme I took from these exhibits and also from Graceland in Memphis, was a pattern that seemed quite repetitive: Young talented musician gets discovered, starts reaping TONS of money, so much that it’s impossible to live with comfortably. So great ostentatious displays of opulence, extreme mood swings and life swings, premature death. Sad, repetitive story, can be applied to Elvis, Tammy Wynette, Hank Williams, etc. Just take a look, for example, at Elvis’s “Solid Gold Cadillac,” on which he spent today’s equivalent of ~$2M to get a car with TVs in the back seat, gold-plated fixtures on the exterior, and the paint. The Paint? 40 hand-rubbed coats of paint containing DIAMOND DUST, ground-up opalescent pearls. Here’s the front end of this modified 1960 Cadillac Fleetwood convertible:

All the same, it’d be fun, just once, to face one of those screaming audiences that used to cheer Elvis, Hank, or Tammy on, and of course, I’d be MUCH smarter about using all that money? On the other hand, I might have trouble making Ns meet?

Why, I might just have to keep my money in the Second Fourth Bank, if this photo gives me any guidance? See ya later.

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4 Responses to “Nashville, the “Music City;” Plus, a little Jack Daniel”

  1. Gary Kaplan said

    Great entry!

  2. Don McDonald said

    Keep the blogazetes coming! They are consistently interesting. Thanks for the vicarious adventures.

  3. Why thank you, Mr. McDonald! Considering your elevated rank and status as a historian and author, I consider that to be high praise indeed, and will value it as such. Do you think after the travel segment of my blog is finished, I should write about driving around Los Altos?

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