Literally, the whole of it breathes and vibrates music; no wonder Roy Orbison was inspired by its streets to write “Pretty Woman”.
The small city of Nashville, in the state of Tennessee, it is the birthplace of the country music par excellence, as well as the fastest growing city in the US.
As soon as we arrive, we put on our cowboy hat and, off we go to Broadway St., street full of live music bars and fabulous people, if we are lucky, we might even see Keith Urban, Taylor Swift or Garth Brooks playing a few chords in one of them.
Take a picture ID, they’ll ask for it if you fancy a drink, I am only into water, they still asked me to get in in some places though, it made me feel very young!
At the beginning of Broadway St., near the Bridgestone Arena is the bar where everything started, the Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, home of the country music.
Right behind is the Ryman Auditorium, built in 1892 to be a Gospel Tabernacle and converted into the Mother Church of the music and set design when, in 1901, they built its first stage. There, the biggest stars played, and as alcohol was not allowed, they’d scape for a drink to Tootsie’s, where it took them 16 steps to go and 32 to come back.
The Ryman has also been home to the Grand Olé Opry which started as a radio station.
I really enjoyed the backstage tour with lovely David, who is so knowledgeable and told us many stories of the stars who have performed in the Ryman.
You’ll also be able to watch a documentary about the history of the place and the great Lula C. Naff who boosted it in a time where the industry was ruled by men. I recommend you to watch it first so then everything David tells you will make more sense. This is from the day she retired.
And if you are still in the museum mood, like I was, The Johnny Cash Museum, a great star with a lot of charisma, as the lovely Randall says when he takes your ticket, is a top option. I also suggest you to watch the movie “Walk the line” before you visit it.
You cannot visit Johnny without going up to see The Patsy Cline Museum, the first woman to go solo in country music. Her best known song is “Crazy”, I bet you know it.
If you buy the tickets for both museums they’ll give you a discount. They are not very big, you’ll be able to see them one after the other.
The one that is very big is The Country Music Hall of Fame, there you’ll see clothes, records, instruments, even Elvi’s Golden Cadillac, and one with hand guns all over, very eccentric.
Make sure you buy the ticket that includes Studio B, why? Because it is where Elvis spent 15 years recording his music. They’ll take you by bus, and besides telling you many stories and how happy he was there, you’ll be able to experience something, I’m not going to tell you about, as I am sure it’ll give you the goosebumps, like it did to me.
You’ll be able to get a photo with Elvis’ favourite piano.
Exiting the museum, in the square, you’ll see the Walk of Fame, yes, the stars on the ground like in Hollywood.
Very near is the Cumberland River, from it you can see the oldest buildings in town and the most modern and emblematic one in Nashville, the Bat Building, and here it is the reason of its name.
The idea was for it to look like an old telephone set, but the two antennas make it look a bit “batmanian”, don’t you think?
By the river some bus tours depart around the city, we took a one hour one, where Starlene told us a lot about Nashville, like the main industry of the city is not the music, nor the whiskey (Jack Daniel’s distillery is in the outskirts), but healthcare.
We passed the State Capitol and the Bicentennial Park which is ideal to go for a walk, run, read or do yoga.
Close by is the oldest church of the city Saint Mary, used as a hospital during the Civil War by both sides.
The Hermitage Hotel is the oldest five star hotel since 1910, it is stunning and totally worth visiting, you must enter the men’s bathroom, yes ladies, we are allowed too.
We saw some of the 21 universities that fill this city, reasons why it is called “The Athens of the South”. What best way to represent it than the Parthenon, replica at full scale of the one in Athens?
One of these universities has, since 1871, a group of Gospel called Fisk Jubille Gospel who sang to collect funds for the university. It seems the performed before Queen Victoria in England when she said: “you must come from a music city” and this is how Nashville got its nickname.
Today I’ll dedicate the book Shaman by Noah Gordon to this city, big in healthcare. If you’ve read “The Physician”, the first one of the saga, you’ll love this one. Rob Cole arrives in Boston where he works with a surgeon. Later on he moves to the Wild West to practice medicine, there he finds love in the arms of a native Indian healer. Novel full of stories of friendship, loyalty, violence, and a wonderful legacy they both leave to their son.
And to say goodbye today we are off to the Wild Horse Saloon in the 2n Av. for some line dancing.