Many people, and increasingly young people, tell me how much they’d love to visit Nashville. I’m pretty sure a large part of this is because of the recently cancelled TV drama set in the city but there are many who want to see where the music comes from. I understand that. I had the same feelings for about 20 years until I went first in 2007. Since then I’ve visited the city more times than I can readily count but still, until recently, found myself scratching my head a little when people asked me for recommendations on what to do if they ever got there,
So much of the joy of being in Music City, for me, happened behind closed doors in the writing sessions and conversations I’d been able to have with the community of songwriters, artists and publishers who live there. Driving in from the airport there really isn’t that much to see so I’ve never been entirely sure a visitor could experience any of that without, in some way, entering into the rhythm of the town. New York or San Francisco it is not. And yet, Bob Dylan himself called an album Nashville Skyline, I almost feel you muttering. There is no doubt that Nashville gets into your bones in a way other cities have never managed for me. After my first visit I was happy to share with anyone who wanted to listen that I could easily have imagined myself living there; a thought which has seldom crossed my mind in many other cities I have stumbled across in my travels. But, if you’re not going to move there lock, stock and barrel, what should you do with a few days off in Tennessee?
This Tuesday on Another Country I’m going to take you on a mini-tour of some of my personal favourite pastimes in the home of country music. They are all great because they are either very cheap or free and they all take you back to the music and make you want to listen harder. We’ll spend a bit of time in The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum where we will encounter again the man who chose to leave New York and favour Nashville to record. Dylan, Cash and The Nashville Cats exhibition at the HOF has been running for over a year.
It tells the story of how Dylan came to the city and how, in his wake, the other artists followed. The Beatles, Neil Young, The Byrds and many more familiar names are part of this great story. Join us as we wander round taking in the stories and hearing the music that came out of this amazing creative period.
We’ll also take a walk around the city. Bill Demain is an old friend. He’s a journalist and a songwriter but and he combines all of that into telling great stories of the city on his Walking Nashville tour. We take the tour and talk to Bill about some of the great characters who have made Nashville their home and recorded and performed some of their best work within the city limits.
So far, you’ll have spent about £30 but the next part of the story is, not only free, but available online 24 hours a day. WSM (Music City’s The Legend on 650 A.M) is the home of The Grand Ole Opry. WSM has always broadcast The Opry and it continues to be the home of country music of all decades. Every night of the week WSM’s output is hosted by Eddie Stubbs. It feels to me like Eddie has been a friend of mine for many years even though we only just met a couple of months ago. His knowledge of country music is encyclopaedic but his delivery is slow, steady and southern. A bluegrass fiddle player himself Eddie understands the contours of country better than anyone and you’ll get a chance to hear him talk about his favourite subject on Tuesday night when we chat backstage at The Opry.
So there it is folks; your AC Music City Tour. There will be conversation but, by cracky, there will be so much music too. Listen out for wonderful things from Bob Dylan himself, Johnny Cash, Margo Price, Vince Gill, Johnny Wright and Kitty Wells and something rather special from Cortelia Clark. Join me from five past nine this Tuesday evening on BBC Radio Scotland.