It’s raining today in Nashville. Not a little one hour tropical storm i’m used to in the USA, but a full blown grey sky, relentless British drizzle. Yuk. Fortunately I have my trusty travel umbrella to hand, although I’m massively regretting the open toed sandals, seeing as i’m now probably going to contract trench foot.I decide to do what the English do best when it rains in cities (so all the time then) and visit as many indoor attractions as possible.
I start in The Country Music Hall of Fame to educate myself on the true roots of Country Music and Nashville. It’s a great building and I spy many artists I know, but many more I don’t.
I wander a Kenny Rogers exhibition, and pass various artists’ stage costumes and lyric manuscripts; as well as their props and instruments.
I’m pleased with the amount of kick-ass women dominating the early country music scene; the trend continuing to this day with my current favourites, Taylor, Miranda and Kacey. There’s even a Taylor Swift Education Centre and I have to resist buying a rug with my heroes face on it.
Next up I parse down 5th Avenue to The Ryman Centre, or the ‘The Mother Church of Country Music’ as it’s also known. An old church theatre, it was the original venue of The Grand Ole Opry, a weekly country music stage concert. Following restoration, it’s beautiful inside if not a little haunted by the ghosts of performers past.
The rain is still falling, so by this point I think it rude not to shelter back in Boot Country now I’ve hit Broadway again. My sandals are soaked and that’s justification enough for me to make a purchase or two. I also grab a nifty pair for my best friend Jess (she gave me quite clear specifications so she’d better bloody well like them!!).
I head back to the hotel, laden with my purchases (and bereft of money) for a quick rest and drying off.
By the time I’m fixed up, the rain has passed so I decide go for a little night stroll. I don’t really know where I’m going but with the cast of today’s hall of fame on my iPod, I don’t care. I head inadvertently up towards Vanderbilt University, and soon hit Music Row. I turn and realise I’m on the two main streets that house the big music labels and recording studios Nashville is famous for.
It’s about 8pm so I have the place to myself. I take a leisurely jaunt and I see signs outside of each congratulating their artists on various accolades. I see BMI, Sony, Warner and the renowned Studio B where the likes of Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison cut tracks.
I think this has been my favourite part of the day-far from the maddening crowds-listening on my headphones to the very singers who have walked into these very studios to make these very tracks. It’s a little awing and inspiring.
Indeed, I can’t help but sing along as the sun sets a rich vermilion sky, and I day dream about a record producer throwing open the doors as I pass by and hollering ‘hey kid! Boy, you can sing!’.
Fantasy in full swing, I loop back down into The Gulch, Dolly begging me not to take her man, and following my day of country-fication, I’m ready for more of what Nashville has to offer.