Last year at this time I was in Music City. It was late May and it was strangely cold. I remember having to go and buy a pullover or two as I hadn’t brought the right clothes.
‘Why all this?’, I hear you say….. It was a flyer a friend sent for CMA week and a certain late night jam at The Ryman when I thought, ‘shucks, I’m not going to be there for Marty’s Late Night Jam.’
I suppose it’s something about these magical music places….16th and 17th Streets , the RCA Studios, The Warners Building where I first experienced these writing sessions with complete strangers (sometimes stetsonned) and the lazy drives home in the late spring sunshine. ‘4 songs away,’ was how my publisher – the fabulously named Dale Bobo – answered when I asked how far his house was. It’s all mixed up in memory now – Noshville – for breakfast – The Loveless Cafe – The Bluebird. My daughter who loves ‘Nashville,’ the series and she wants to know –
What’s it like in there?
You want to know, I ask.
Suddenly, the enchanted place I thought was mine and mine alone has been televised and everyone wants cut in on the deal.It’s as if Pooh Corner had opened itself as a theme park.
I suppose the most fantastical bit is the combination of the places and the songs. Hearing songs on the radio about the place you’re driving round is always a thrill. Most cities in the US are not immune but it usually comes into sharp focus in New York, L.A. and especially Nashville. There’s a lovely movie running in my head of a song writer driving back to the east side, guitar in the boot turning on the radio and suddenly – her song is playing. It’s that dream that brings the singers, pickers and writers in the thousands. And, if you can make it there…well you know the rest.
I’m not there this year, partly because my wife is on the road herself in a new theatre show and because, instead of music row, I’m right in the heart of The Gorbals – Glasgow’s own magical music quarter – where I’m working on a future theatrical event. And…I’m having just as much fun.
However I thought of Nashville this week again as it’s a place I often imagine young Roddy Hart making a strong impression. Roddy is a man who knows why you have Waylon and Willie in your record collection along with Cee Lo, Pharrell, Bowie and Bolan. He’s been an AC visitor before along with the Lonesome Fire but things are changing there too. A few months ago he let me have a sneaky listen to the new project where the “Fire” step out of the shadows and lo and behold a new and exciting band emerges. So it will be that big, bright ensemble who become our third Scottish Band in this month of Studio One sessions. They will be playing songs from that new record plus talking about the sessions with producer Danton Supple as well as telling us how they got Kris Kristofferson into their video.
We will celebrate some new music from Diana Jones, Blue Rose Code, The National and KT Tunstall. We’ll hear My Darling Clementine singing about George Jones and the above mentioned Mr Kristofferson singing about Hank. Look out too for some fine moments from Stonewall Jackson and Buddy Miller. It all starts at five past eight on Friday evening on BBC Radio Scotland.
Ricky – great blog post and really looking forward to the show as always.
Roddy Hart and The Lonesome Fir lp is keenly awaited by this contributor and I remeber them doing a great version of Racing In The Street oops I mean Independence Day last time around so I wonder if we shall be treated to another classic from the pen of the Boss.
“A future theatrical event”? Colour me intrigued! I have to say that I am still enjoying “Nashville”, even as its character arcs race along with barely no room to breathe, and so it’s great to see that it has been renewed for a second season. I can’t say that it tallies much with my own experiences of the city, though! It’s somewhere to which I do want to return someday—it’s two decades now since I visited, and all too briefly even then.
My experience of America has undoubtedly been informed by its representation in song and—perhaps even moreso—on film and television. It can certainly be a powerful influence. Nearly 15 years on, probably one of my very favourite days spent in the USA to date was in Roslyn, WA—a.k.a. Cicely, AK in “Northern Exposure”. I was staying in a beautiful little B&B called “The Hummingbird Inn”, owned and run by a lovely Native American lady, and emerged onto Main Street in the early morning mist to be greeted by a street so familiar to me for having seen so much whimsical drama play out on its streets. Almost directly opposite was the fictional KHBR radio station, where greatest-ever-fictional-DJ Chris Stevens waxed lyrical on philosophy to a playlist like none other. For a moment, fiction and reality merged, and Cicely was real. Pure magic.