The Nashville Tour!

Trip Start Sep 20, 2007
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86
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Trip End May 16, 2008


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Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Sunday, January 27, 2008

So much to see...so little time. My planning was off.
 
It's a longer drive to downtown Nashville from the campground then it could be. The Cumberland River zigs and zags through the city. The campground, and Opryland, is situated in the bottom of a "U" where it loops. You have to drive up and over the next, opposite, "U" of the river to get to downtown.
 
Nashville's population is similar to Calgary's. The size of the City is comparable. It's downtown is much smaller. It's road network is much better. Similar to most cities in the '70s the city suffered from urban decay. That was one of the reasons the Grand Old Opry moved to the suburbs, away from the crime and dilapidated neighbourhood, people were afraid to go downtown. That's all changed. Urban renewal. Driving into the downtown core you are greeted by these two wondrous buildings. I find their designs inspiring. They have a new Convention center and arena. They also have a lot of older buildings that have been renovated. The city has character.
 
My first stop was the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. From the Museum you can catch the tour bus to see the Historic RCA Studio B recording studio. I buy my admission ticket for both and have 15 minutes to spare before boarding the bus. I run into Stacy (I hope that's her name since I gave her one of my cards to check out the blog. Note to Stacy or whomever...email me to confirm) who's a volunteer at the Museum. Her first day volunteering. She has a sore throat and is sucking on a Halls. We start chatting. She's been in Nashville for 2 years from Wisconsin (I think). Works at a toilet stall installation company. She mentioned something about "Music" though I don't know if she sings or is a musician or trying to get into the music business in some other way. We kept on getting interrupted by other Museum visitors (I know, she had a job to do). We had a great conversation going when I had to leave for my tour. I didn't see her again when I visited the Museum. I wish I had. I would have asked her out to dinner to continue our conversation. I might even have stayed in Nashville another day to get to know her better.
 
The Studio B tour. In 1957 Studio B was built and leased to RCA Victor. Many hits have been recorded here. From the Everly Brothers' "All I Have to Do is Dream" to, Elvis' "Are You Lonesome To-Night?". The list is endless as to the stars that recorded here. The Tour Guide was amazing with his recollection of stories.
 
Trivia:
-Elvis would usually start recording his songs at 10 PM and record through the night.
-The grand piano currently in the recording studio is the same one that's been there since 1957.
-Elvis recorded "Are you Lonesome Tonight? " in the dark to set the right mood. It was recorded in one take with the exception of the last note where a back up musician made a mistake. Instead of re-recording the whole thing they spliced in   the final note. It's the reason the song title often has "To-night" hyphenated.
-Studio B was the first recording studio in the area. Now there are dozens owned by various recording artists and music companies.
-The neighbourhood is called Music Row as all the various parts of the music industry are located here.
-Reba McEntire's offices/studio was built with a heli pad so that she could fly home every night to her house on the outskirts of town. The heli pad has never been used because everybody complained that the studios in the neighbourhood were not built for that kind of noise.
 
...there was so much more that was told to us during this tour.
 
After that tour we returned to the Museum. I wandered about looking at the displays for a while. You could spend most of the day reading all the information on the displays. I visited the Gift Shop and purchased an Elvis Platinum Collection with 100 of his songs, 2 CDs with copies of songs recorded at Studio B and a book titled "Live Like You were Dying".
 
I had planned on visiting the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum since it was only a couple blocks away. It was getting late and I wanted to see the Parthenon, the only life size replica in the world of the one in Athens. This one was originally built to be a temporary structure but when they were going to tear it down the outcry was so great they slowly rebuilt it to be permanent. I drove there on the west end of town then came back downtown and parked close to the Ryman. I walked to the riverfront to see Fort Nashborough, a smaller replica of the original settlement.
 
I walked up and down various streets, with the more populous one a on Saturday evening being Broadway with all its bars and restaurants. I stopped at the Legends Bar for some supper and some entertainment then headed to the Ryman for the Grand Old Opry. I was lucky enough to get tickets in the second row, center stage. I was sitting next to a woman from upstate New York, about an hour south of Kingston. She was on her way back from visiting her daughter in Phoenix. The day before she had been caught driving in the freezing rain through Texas. She was an accountant and was moving down to Phoenix in the spring after tax season. We had a good chat waiting for the show to start and during the commercials. Yes, there are commercials during this show. It is a radio show and all the sponsors need to get acknowledged between song sets.
 
The Grand Old Opry felt like a family affair. The pictures tell you the line-up of singers this evening. When I checked the line up on their website I only recognized 2 names, Vince Gill and Restless Heart. Once some of the singers came on I recognized some of their songs from when I was growing up even if they were hits from before I was born. The Wrights are a duet I saw on TV shortly before I left...I think. More on them in my next blog. The most amazing singer I found all evening was Patti Page. She still sings like an angel at 80 years of age. For those who don't know who she is she sang "Tennessee Waltz", "(How Much Is That) Doggie In The Window", and many more hits. I found this copy of her singing Tennessee Waltz. It's one of the songs she sang this evening and for which received a standing ovation. She definitely deserved it. Vince Gill has a superb voice and is also a comedian. He was quite entertaining.
 
When I planned my day and the things I wanted to see I knew I would be up late at the Opry so I had decided to leave after lunch. I could have left early in the morning to try and take more in. Unfortunately my health just won't allow me to take it all in.
 
I ended up loving Nashville. I would definitely come back and see and experience more of it. I am glad I decided to take my chance with the cold weather and head north.
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