Nashville Travelogue

18 Dec

The other day, I published a post about visiting the Johnny Cash Museum and got a response from Lunar Euphoria. A trip to Nashville is in the works, and the museum has been added to the list of things to do. Then, the question was raised, “Anything else there I should know about?”

I promised a reply but decided to put it down in a post. It is not an exhaustive list, and I will certainly forget some stuff. However, these are some of the places people should visit when they come to Nashville.Nashville Skyline

Nashville is known as Music City, and music can be found everywhere. Chances are that your waiter can sing better than most of the people on the radio. Here are some of my musical suggestions.

Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge – It sits in the heart of the tourist trap that is Lower Broad. However, it has an interesting history. Performers on the Grand Ole Opry used to saunter into the bar between their appearances on the show.

The Bluebird Cafe – Songwriters sit in the round and play their songs. They also talk about how they came up with the songs.

3rd and Lindsley – It is not a tourist destination, but it is the home of The Time Jumpers, a group of studio musicians who have become a legendary Western Swing band.

The Ryman Auditorium – The original home of the Grand Ole Opry is known as the “Mother Church of Country Music” and is open for backstage tours. It does not matter who you see perform at the Ryman. Hearing music in that venue is an experience unto itself.

Third Man Records – Nashville is not just about country music. To see what I mean, stop by Third Man Records, owned by Jack White. He lives in Nashville along with a lot of other people who most would find surprising.

The Country Music Hall of Fame – This is one of my favorite places in Nashville. The permanent exhibits follow the history of country music. The special exhibits focus on interesting people and interesting times. Oh yeah, get the package that includes a tour of Studio B.

Nashville is also becoming known as a food city. Chefs from throughout the nation are opening restaurants, and it is a haven for foodies. Of course, we have the good old southern stuff, too. Here are my food suggestions.

Rotier’s – Many years ago, a struggling artist ate at Rotier’s quite often. Eventually, he was inspired to write a song about one of his favorite menu items. That song was “Cheeseburger in Paradise” by Jimmy Buffett.

Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack – Nashville has become known for its hot chicken, and Prince’s is the best place to get it. It is fried. It is hot. When you go there, do not be bashful when ordering. If you are, then they might skip over you and go to the next customer.

Southern Steak and Oyster – Want to hang out with the local hipsters and eat some great food? Go to this place. It is one of our favorites, and it is great every time. Unfortunately, oysters are not my thing, but the first half of their name is awesome.

The Farm House – Sitting across the street from Southern Steak and Oyster, this place offers southern food with a touch of class. I cannot write what is good because it all is great. It is not cheap, but it is worth it. On top of that, the owner/chef is from Wilson County, where we live.

BrickTop’s – A lot of people would probably leave this off the list. It is casual fare served in a fern bar atmosphere. However, I think it is awesome. It is especially good for brunch after a long night at one of the music places.

Taco Mamacita – This restaurant is a cool hangout just off Music Row. That means you might see a singer or two eating lunch on the patio. It also means you will be away from the tourists and mingling with the locals.

The music and entertainment aspects of Nashville obscure the fact that it is a historical city. When I say historical, I am not writing about Hank Williams or Patsy Cline. I am writing about non-musical history. Here are my historic suggestions.

The Hermitage – Andrew Jackson was the seventh president of the United States and brought a power to the presidency that the United States had not seen. This is his home and is a great place to learn about his presidency and his life.

Cheekwood – This estate was owned by the family that produced Maxwell House Coffee. It is now an art museum and botanical gardens. There are permanent and rotating exhibits.

Fort Negley – I should let the fort’s official website tell you about its history, but here is something interesting. It was a Union fort during the Civil War. Yes, Tennessee was a Confederate state, but it was not long before Union troops took Nashville. That is when the city became the second most fortified city behind Washington, D.C.

The Parthenon – Centennial Park was the location of an international exhibition in the late 1800s. Those things were all the rage back then. There were numerous buildings, and the Parthenon, a replica of the one in Greece, remains. Why would there be a replica of the Parthenon in Nashville? Because the city was “the Athens of the South” before it was “Music City.” That was due to the large number of universities in the area.

As previously written, there are a ton of things that I have not included or have forgotten. If anyone wants to add something then put them in the comments. However, if you make your way to Nashville, then you should try out a few of these spots.

 

 

The Problem With Christmas

15 Dec

This blog began as a sarcastic view upon the world. Simply, I was going to write about the dumbness that we encounter in our everyday lives. There was a diatribe about gas pumps that used to get tons of hits. Then, there was part of the Sonic Drive-In business model. Recently, I went after people who choose to drive big ass vehicles.

It is now the season to discuss the problem with Christmas. Actually, we should make that plural.Christmas

Food – I have no problem with the food that is prepared for Christmas. I think it is awesome. In fact, it is awesome enough that it should be prepared all year. That, therefore, is the problem. If something is good enough to eat in December, then it is good enough to eat in June.

Sausage balls are one of my favorite foods, but I only get them at Christmas. That is a ridiculous concept that needs to be immediately changed. They should be a staple of the daily diet.

I also like boiled custard. Those of you who drink eggnog are doing the wrong thing. You should be drinking boiled custard. You should also be drinking it all the time.

Music – There is only one good Christmas song, and it only has one decent version. The season is not complete without hearing Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing “Little Drummer Boy.” However, even it should only be played on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. There is no reason to start playing Christmas music the day after Halloween.

That, therefore, is the problem. Christmas songs are played too early and too often.

The Three Wise Guys – They traveled from afar while following the brightest star in the sky. They bore gifts for the child that they knew would be found under its light. The journey must have been difficult and long. The three men, being wise, had plenty of time to contemplate the importance of their mission. I wonder if they knew the impact their trip would have on the world’s economy.

Three men bearing gifts for a newborn child created a tradition that would overwhelm the holiday designed to honor that very child. That, therefore, is the problem. The giving and receiving of gifts dominate Christmas. People fight to grab products on Black Friday. Stores cannot wait for the end of the year because they know that is when profits will be made. The holiday has become a contest to see how many gifts we can cram under a tree.

If the three wise guys had left the gold, frankincense and myrrh at home, then things would be quite a bit different.

Paganism – I have no problem with paganism. In my opinion, women can dance naked in the woods all they want. That, therefore, is not the problem. The issue is that people fill their houses with pagan symbols and do not realize it.

All of those Christmas Trees that people spend time setting up and decorating. Yep, it is a pagan symbol. It may come from some nature rite. It could be a way to bring nature into the home during a long winter. It could be a lot of things, but it definitely comes from a time before Christianity reached Europe.

Oh yeah, we cannot forget the wreaths. These things have a long pagan history. Heck, Roman emperors even wore them on their heads like a crown. Those would be the same Romans that Pontius Pilate worked for. Yep, paganism.

Characters – Santa Claus. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Frosty the Snowman. The Grinch. Heat Miser. Cold Miser. There are a ton of characters that have been created for Christmas. That, therefore, is the problem.

All of those Christmas characters have come to dominate Jesus, the character for which the holiday was created.

Reason for the Season – We spend a lot of time doing a lot of things at Christmas. People prepare special food. People spend a lot of time listening to songs. People spend a lot of time spending a lot of money. People spend a lot of time decorating their houses. People spend a lot of time watching television specials and taking pictures with Santa Claus.

That, therefore, is the problem. We spend all that time and forget about what Christmas is all about. I am not the most religious person in the world, but we should not forget that Christmas is a religious holiday celebrating the birth of a man who greatly altered the world.

This is not meant to be a religious debate. Some people believe, and some people do not. Millions upon millions believe in other religions and religious figures. However, no one can deny that this is a holiday that honors the man who one of the world’s major religions is based on. All of this other stuff just takes away from that.

Tourism – Johnny Cash Style

12 Dec

There are times when we like to act like tourists in our own town and go to places that locals tend to ignore. Sunday was one of those times. We had brunch in downtown Nashville and walked a few blocks to the Johnny Cash Museum.Johnny Cash

I never saw Johnny Cash perform, and that is one of my regrets. However, I had a brief encounter with him at a bookstore. Honestly, I thought that would have been mentioned somewhere in the museum, but, for some reason, they left that out.

The museum offered glimpses into many phases of his life. Throughout the tour, samples of his music play overhead. Also, there are listening stations that represent different musical times in his life. It is a great chance to hear how his music, message and voice changed through the decades.

When I picked up one set of headphones, the station played a song that I always thought was cool because it sounds hard to sing. “I’ve Been Everywhere” is a fast-paced tune that names places that the singer has visited. It sounds almost like Rap and proves difficult to understand in some spots.

Yesterday, I looked up the song to figure out the lyrics and found out some interesting tidbits. First, it was written by an Australian and listed Australian towns. Then, Hank Snow picked it up and changed locations. At some point, Johnny Cash recorded it, and.

As I listened to the song, I began to wonder how many places in the song I have visited. It turns out that I have not been everywhere, but I have been to a few places. They are in bold.

I was totin’ my pack along the dusty Winnemucca road
When along came a semi with a high and canvas covered load
If you’re going to Winnemucca, mack, with me you can ride
So I climbed into the cab and then I settled down inside
He asked me if I’d seen a road with so much dust and sand
And I said, “Listen, I’ve traveled every road in this here land”

I’ve been everywhere, man
I’ve been everywhere, man
Across the deserts bare, man
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man
Of travel I’ve had my share, man
I’ve been everywhere

I’ve been to Reno, Chicago, Fargo
Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow
Sarasota, Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa
Oklahoma, Tampa, Panama
Mattawa, La Paloma, Bangor
Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo
Tocopilla, Barranquilla and
Padilla, I’m a killer

I’ve been everywhere, man
I’ve been everywhere, man
Across the deserts bare, man
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man
Of travel I’ve had my share, man
I’ve been everywhere

I’ve been to Boston, Charleston, Dayton
Louisiana, Washington, Houston
Kingston, Texarkana, Monterey, Ferriday
Santa Fe, Tallahoosa, Glen Rock
Black Rock, Little Rock, Oskaloosa
Tennessee, Hennessey, Chicopee, Spirit Lake
Grand Lake, Devil’s Lake, Crater Lake, for Pete’s sake

I’ve been everywhere, man
I’ve been everywhere, man
Across the deserts bare, man
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man
Of travel I’ve had my share, man
I’ve been everywhere

I’ve been to Louisville, Nashville
Knoxville, Ombabika, Shefferville
Jacksonville, Waterville, Costa Rica
Pittsfield, Springfield, Bakersfield
Shreveport, Hackensack, Cadillac
Fond Du Lac, Davenport, Idaho, Jellicoe
Argentina, Diamontina, Pasadena
Catalina, see what I mean’a

I’ve been everywhere, man
I’ve been everywhere, man
Across the deserts bare, man
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man
Of travel I’ve had my share, man
I’ve been everywhere

Pittsburgh, Parkersburg, Gravellburg
Colorado, Ellensburg, Rexburg, Vicksburg
El Dorado, Larrimore, Atmore, Haverstraw
Chattanooga, Chaska, Nebraska, Alaska
Opelika, Baraboo, Waterloo, Kalamazoo
Kansas City, Sioux City, Cedar City
Dodge City, what a pity

I’ve been everywhere, man
I’ve been everywhere, man
Across the deserts bare, man
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man
Of travel I’ve had my share, man
I’ve been everywhere
I’ve been everywhere

 Yeah, I have acted like a tourist in a lot of places.

My iPod Has Issues – WordPress Has Joined the Crazy Club

9 Dec

This morning, I logged into WordPress and found that the format has been changed. Obviously, this is not the first time that changes have taken place, and each time I have to learn how to navigate the system to get where I want.

It an old-fashioned question, but why fix something that is not broken? Ever heard of New Coke?New Coke

Hold on. Scratch that. The classic system I signed up on was not broken. The changes since that time have gradually made the platform worse. With each change, I have figured out how to get back to the classic. One of these days, the classic dashboard is going to be deleted, and the blogging world will stop spinning.

Anyway, the folks at WordPress either need busy work to justify their continued employment, or they have joined the crazy club. My iPod is the only thing crazier than these constant changes. With that in mind, we will go completely off the wall and use this crazy blogging platform to explore my crazy iPod.

Hold on to your minds!

“The Reflex” by Duran Duran

“La Grange” by ZZ Top

“Highway 61 Revisited” by Bob Dylan

“Mack the Knife” by Bobby Darin

“Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” by Dionne Warwick

“Baby Love” by The Supremes

“Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” by Steely Dan

“The Devil Made Me Do It” by Golden Earring

“In The Garden” by John Prine and Mac Wiseman

“Say You Really Care” by Roscoe Shelton

“Cool” by Lou Busch and His Orchestra

“Big Long Slidin’ Thing” by Dinah Washington

“Bad Businessman” by Squirrel Nut Zippers

“Funk #49″ by James Gang

“Coelocanth” by Shriekback

“Luckenbach, Texas” by Waylon Jennings

“Bring It On Home To Me” by Sam Cooke

“Banditos” by The Refreshments

“Hallelujah” by Sweathog

“Escape of Jennie Wiley” by Hylo Brown

“Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple

“Roane County Prison” by Bill Monroe

“Beau Geste” by Hadley J. Castille

“Everlasting Love” by Robert Knight

“Stagger Lee” by Lloyd Price

Our brief musical interlude is over. Now, WordPress. Fix yourself.

The Night They Demanded “Runaway”

8 Dec

The other day, I wrote a post about concerts, and it brought to mind a show that has, for the lack of a better word, haunted me. I reckon an explanation is needed.

Many years ago, I took my mom to an Oldies reunion concert that had a lineup filled with people she had grown up listening to. I cannot remember everyone who played, but there is one I will never forget.Del Shannon

Del Shannon came on stage and told everyone how happy he was to be in Nashville. He grew up listening to country music, and Hank Williams was one of his heroes. He opened up with a Hank Williams song, and it was easy to see that it was important for him to sing that song in this city.

Then, he sang another Hank Williams song. Apparently, one was all the crowd was willing to put up with. A few of those close to the stage started yelling, “Runaway! Play Runaway!” For those of you who may not know, “Runaway” was Del Shannon’s big hit. He had a few other songs make the charts, but “Runaway” is what made him famous.

As they yelled, Del was getting frustrated. He said that he would play the song, but he was going to do this first. Some people continued to yell but most sat back and waited. They politely clapped, but it was not the same as the reactions for other performers.

Finally, he played the song, and the crowd went crazy. Then, Del Shannon left the stage.

For the rest of the concert, I wondered what Del Shannon was thinking. What was it like to be famous for one song and have to play it over and over? What was it like to know the crowd only wanted one thing? What was it like to have a hit; be on the cusp of stardom; and not make it further? What was it like to be relegated to playing reunion shows?

A few weeks after that concert, I opened a magazine and read that Del Shannon had committed suicide. I doubt that the show in Nashville had anything to do with it. However, I wonder if the answers to those questions did have something to do with it.

I do not want to speculate on the lives and deaths of people I do not know. However, I still think about that concert and the actions of the crowd. It was the only concert that I regret attending.

Listeria – Significant Others

7 Dec

We went to the grocery store, which was deserted because no one needs groceries the day after Thanksgiving, and I bought a couple of magazines. In fact, my magazines accounted for half of the total cost. Anyway, the good folks at the Smithsonian have put together a list called “The 100 Most Significant Americans of All Time.”

People are always putting out lists like this, and I am always buying them. I look through them and wonder why they pick this person over that one. Then, I wonder how I can use it in this blog. Do I pick out the ones that I like and write about them? Do I pick out the ones I disagree with and write about them?

There are a bunch of Listeria posts on this thing, and I have probably already done all of that. This list is going to be different. In an attempt to change the pattern and pump up my state, I went through the list of “The Most Significant Americans of All Time” and picked out the ones who have a connection to Tennessee. Some of them are obvious, but a few may be surprising.Flag

Meriwether Lewis, along with William Clark, led the Corps of Discovery across the Louisiana Territory and to the Pacific Ocean. Upon their return, Lewis was appointed governor of that territory. Facing stresses of many types, he traveled the Natchez Trace on his way to see Thomas Jefferson. Just south of Nashville, he died of two gunshot wounds in a roadside tavern. Lewis remains buried near Columbia, Tennessee.

Those who have studied the Civil Rights Movement know that Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. However, they may not know that he received training in activism at the Highlander Folk School in Grundy County, Tennessee. Other activists, including Rosa Parks and Ralph Abernathy, also attended the school.

W.E.B. DuBois founded the NAACP. Before that, he graduated from Fisk University in Nashville. Upon graduation, he taught at the Wheeler School in Wilson County, where I live. According to the The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, his work at the Wheeler School influenced his work, The Souls of Black Folk.

Andrew Jackson was the first president from Tennessee and lived a life that could fill a shelf of books. In fact, my colleague is currently working on his third book about Andrew Jackson. To purchase a book and find out more information about Old Hickory, visit his website at jacksonianamerica.com.

Theodore Roosevelt visited Tennessee while he was in office and spent some time at Jackson’s home, The Hermitage. According to legend, the drank coffee brewed at Nashville’s Maxwell House Hotel and said that it was “good to the last drop.”

Before his presidency, Ulysses S. Grant commanded all Union armies during the Civil War. Before receiving those orders, he commanded troops at the Battle of Fort Henry and the Battle of Shiloh in West Tennessee.

Oprah Winfrey is an icon of television and other forms of entertainment. Before all of that, she graduated from East Nashville High School and Tennessee State University. After winning the Miss Black Tennessee pageant, she was hired as news anchor for Nashville’s WLAC-TV, which is now WTVF.

After a failed robbery attempt in Northfield, Minnesota, Frank and Jesse James needed a place to hide. They chose Nashville. With their families, they lived under aliases and lived quiet lives. Unfortunately, Jesse was not content and wanted to return to outlawry. They returned to Missouri where Jesse was killed.

Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi but spent most of his life in Memphis. A lot can be written about the life of “The King of Rock n’ Roll,” but, for the purpose of this post, his rise to fame started in Tennessee. It was a fame that took him to the greatest heights and the lowest depths.

I learned a lot about Bob Dylan while researching for my class on the History of American Music. He has been more influential than I ever realized. What connection does he have to Tennessee? Nashville Skyline was recorded here, and he spent time with several legends of country music. According to the stories, the home of Johnny Cash was one of his favorite places to be.

Jimi Hendrix grew up in Seattle and first gained fame in London. He introduced himself Americans at Monterrey and became a legend at Woodstock. However, he learned how to play guitar in Nashville. While in the army, he was stationed at nearby Fort Campbell and spent his weekends playing in the clubs on Jefferson Street. He met and learned from Johnny Jones, a local guitarist. Hard to believe? Watch this video of his first television appearance on a local R n’ B show.

As far as I know, Cornelius Vanderbilt never visited Nashville. However, there is a university in the city that bears his name. One of the school’s founders was married to a distant Vanderbilt cousin and met the Commodore at a time when he was considering several causes in which to donate. The timing was perfect because the meeting led to a $1 million gift.

Babe Ruth and his teammates used to barnstorm during the offseason, and one of those tours took him to Chattanooga. That is when he was struck out by a female pitcher.

13 out of 100. That is not too bad.

 

 

My Concert Addiction

5 Dec

Man, I cannot believe that I have gone this long without posting something. I blame it one real life. Christmas lights have to be put up. Chores have to be done. The semester is coming to an end.

Today was the last day of classes. Of course, final exams are on the horizon, but the daily grind has come to a close. For me, it is a good feeling because I have completed the task of educating students. However, it is also sad because that particular collection of people will never be together again. Taking part in a class, whether as a teach or student, is almost a communal experience. Once that community breaks apart, it will never return.

This semester, my favorite class was History of American Music. In other terms, it was the School of Rock. As the class came to a close, I realized that a lot of my personal experiences were shared. Whenever I talked about a band or played a song, there was a concert story that went along with it.

I am a concert fiend. My parents took means my brother to my first concert. It was Elvis Presley. They also made me go to the second one, Kenny Rogers. My first concert as an “independent” teen was Whitesnake and Great White with my friend Robert. There have been a bunch since then. Some are memorable, and some have slipped to the back of my mind. After class, I started wondering about the artists who are on my iPod. How many of them have I seen perform live?Concert

To jog my memory, I decided to go through the list and figure it out. These are the people in my iPod who I have seen in concert.

AC/DC

Aerosmith

Air Supply

Al Green

Alice Cooper

The B-52’s

B.B. King

B.J. Thomas

Black Sabbath

Blue Man Group

Bo Diddley

Bob Dylan

Bob Seger

Boz Scaggs

BR5-49

The Brian Setzer Orchestra

Bruce Springsteen

Buddy Guy

Charlie Daniels

Cher

Chicago

Crosby, Stills and Nash

Dave Brubeck

David Allan Coe

Del Shannon

The Dillards

Dionne Warwick

Dokken

Don Henley

Don Williams

Drive-By Truckers

Duran Duran

The Eagles

Earth, Wind and Fire

Elton John

Elvis Presley

Eric Clapton

The Everly Brothers

The Fairfield Four

Fleetwood Mac

George Carlin

George Jones

George Clinton

George Strait

Gipsy Kings

Glen Campbell

Godsmack

Gordon Lightfoot

Guns N’ Roses

Hank Williams, Jr.

James Taylor

Jimmy Buffett

Joe Jackson

Joe Walsh

John Fogerty

John Mellencamp

Judas Priest

Kate Campbell

Kenny Chesney

Kenny Rogers

KISS

Kris Kristofferson

Leonard Cohen

Little River Band

Little Jimmy Dickens

Lynyrd Skynyrd

The Marshall Tucker Band

Meat Loaf

Merle Haggard

Metallica

Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Neil Diamond

Ozzy Osbourne

Pat Green

Pink Floyd

Porter Wagoner

Prince

Ray Price

Rob Zombie

Roberta Flack

Rod Stewart

The Rolling Stones

Ron White

Simon and Garfunkel

Skid Row

Stacey Mitchhart

Stevie Nicks

Ted Nugent

Tim McGraw

Tom Petty

U2

Vintage Trouble

Whitesnake

The Who

Will Hoge

Willie Nelson

ZZ Top

Wow, I think I am addicted. If so, then I am a lucky addict.

 

 

 

 

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