I love music of all kinds, but country music has a special place in my soul. From my childhood filled with Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, Brooks & Dunn and Reba to my adulthood, country has been a part of my life. So I didn’t grow up on a farm. So I live in a major city. So what.
I’ll never claim to like all country, Toby Keith is not for me. And while I love to have a good time drinking with my friends, dancing to Dierks and Luke and Kenny, I also really love the roots of country music too. When my boss told me I’d be working at the Women’s Final Four, hosted in Nashville this upcoming April, I was elated. I’ve never spent time in Nashville, so the possibilities were endless.
Following my trip to Texas, I was sent to Nashville for a brief 36 or so hours to go to planning meetings for the tournament. I took the earliest flight in and the latest flight home, to maximize my time in Music City.
From the moment I got off the plan, I was overwhelmed by the familiar faces of country on the walls, music notes in every piece of art (and sometimes even the carpeting), and most importantly MUSIC EVERYWHERE! Had I died on the flight and not realized it? Is this what the afterlife is like? It felt so perfectly crafted for me.
I didn’t have a stud named Leroy, but I went up and down Broadway and I wanted to shout “Save a horse, ride a cowboy!” but it was before 9:00am. And I was nervous the bums and drunks still lingering from the night before might try to take me up on the offer.
Broadway is pretty awesome. An entire street full of honky tonks, boot barns, neon signs and a whole lot of history. Anyone who’s anyone in music – not just country – has at one point or another played at a bar on Broadway. Music plays from stereo boxes on every corner, lyrics are on the buses… it’s the Music City through and through.
I met up with everyone else to get our agendas for the next two days and we hit the pavement. Tours of the historic Ryman Auditorium, Country Music Hall of Fame and moonshine tastings awaited!
Let me tell you that there is no cooler feeling in the world than standing where greatness has stood. Elvis has performed in that exact spot. Johnny Cash and June Carter used to broadcast their shows from this exact spot. Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline and many, MANY more have performed on this stage. I had goosebumps. The Ryman was built as a Tabernacle, so it’s no surprise that the feeling could be equated to something spiritual when you stand on the stage. I didn’t want to leave. I may have even made the bus wait for me so I could look at some of the memorabilia and hear ghost stories from our tour guide….
We went on to a few honky tonks and saloons to check out potential venues to host parties, which also meant whiskey and moonshine tastings. And live music! I felt like I was in the exact place I was meant to be. Whiskey, live music and cowboy boots… and denim. Denim on denim sometimes too.
We woke up the next day (after hitting snooze a few times) and began with an AWESOME brunch at The Southern and walked a few blocks for our tour of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Doesn’t it just look heavenly? Between the real blue suede shoes, Elvis’ car, a whole exhibit for Reba… the Ford Theater (yes, jokes were made about Abe Lincoln as we walked in) where every member of the Hall of Fame is inducted… and so many more artifacts, costumes… it has everything you could imagine wanting to see as not only a country music fan but a music fan. I can’t wait to go back and really explore everything this museum has to offer.
Once the rest of the group left Nashville, I decided to keep walking around the city to see the river, the capital and other areas. The war memorial auditorium, capital building and other government buildings share a sprawling plaza downtown. I walked around, enjoying the sunshine, water fountains and architecture until I couldn’t walk anymore…
I wish I had the time to go to the Grand Ole Opry or Music Row, but I guess I had to save some items for April.
Until next time, I’ll leave you with one of the greatest
country music videos of all time.