Thank You, Nashville. My Heart is Singing Again

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Minutes after landing, it didn’t take long to realize Nashville embraces the whole Music City theme like a big ole’ bear hug. It’s also when it clicked something had been missing in my life. Music.

Performers at Legends Corner on Broadway in Nashville, Tenn.

Performers at Legends Corner on Broadway in Nashville, Tenn.

Prerecorded messages from various country musicians welcomed travelers to Nashville. Walking out of the secured area toward baggage claim, a musician serenades passengers with a twang on his guitar. I spied guitars made by brands as Gibson, Epiphone, and Martin & Co. on display around the baggage carousel.

I didn’t want to leave; this was too cool for school! But I had to jump into a taxi to attend a conference.

Martin & Co. Ad at the Nashville Airport, Nov. 2014

Martin & Co. Ad at the Nashville Airport, Nov. 2014

Music Was My Teenage Happy Place
As a teenager, I was miserable like I suppose many others are during that stage of life. Music, specifically rock ‘n’ roll and pop, was my salvation. It was my happy place that welcomed me with open arms.

Seen Out and About in Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 20, 2014

Seen Out and About in Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 20, 2014

Oh, don’t think I’m musically talented. I’m not. I attempted to play the clarinet in elementary school and failed miserably, have no rhythm, and can’t carry a tune – just ask the Japanese I sang karaoke with. Although, I did teach myself a few songs on my sister’s PianoSaurous. Even so, music was important.

Don't You Love the Prints at the Sheraton Nashville Downtown Hotel?

Don’t You Love the Prints at the Sheraton Nashville Downtown Hotel?

During the ‘80s I knew the details of every band from hair nation rockers to the boys of the second British Invasion. Religiously, I watched the weekend video shows, could recite the weekly Top 40 by Sunday afternoon, and read music pubs as Rolling Stone and later Spin. In college, the highlight was dancing at the clubs each weekend beginning on Thursday. My goal in life was to either be an entertainment journalist or radio disc jockey.

Broadway at Night, Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 20, 2014

Broadway at Night, Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 20, 2014

The great outdoors called and I headed to Yellowstone National Park in 1990 where the only radio station I could tune into was NPR and television reception was nonexistent. I relied on a handful of cassette tapes and the musical tastes of others to feed my soul with music.

Johnny Cash Museum, Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 2014

Johnny Cash Museum, Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 2014

It’s here where I was introduced to country music but also began about a decade of being sheltered from current events and pop culture (with the exception of the O.J. Simpson trial). Mother Nature’s symphony of bellowing frogs, chirping crickets and singing birds replaced rock ‘n’ roll.

Printers Alley - Out and About in Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 20, 2014

Printers Alley – Out and About in Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 20, 2014

My Emotional Package Was Overweight
We all grieve and cope differently. The passing of my former husband and the guilt in understanding how he loved me followed by the passing of my grandmother the next year have been difficult to swallow. There hasn’t been much music or dancing. My heart hasn’t been singing. Yes, this has been my emotional baggage and I’ve finally found the strength to downsize to a carry-on. A really small carry-on, I shall add.

Performers at The Stage on Broadway, Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 20, 2014

Performers at The Stage on Broadway, Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 20, 2014

Fast forwarding through some dark days, it’s only relatively recently I’ve been able to see the sunshine and have been waiting for the right soundtrack.

A Walk Down Broadway, Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 2014

A Walk Down Broadway, Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 2014

Thankfully, I began hearing snippets to my new soundtrack over the summer. Music has been creeping back into my life and filling my soul.

Boots Seen on Broadway, Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 2014

Boots Seen on Broadway, Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 2014

Broadway. The Nashville One.
“You must go to Broadway,” the white-haired gentleman who sat next to me on my flight said with a slow, Southern drawl.

I was puzzled. Didn’t he know we were heading to Nashville and not New York? Silly me. Broadway is the heart of the Music City with shops, clubs, restaurants and live music.

A Morning Walk Down Broadway, Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 2014

A Morning Walk Down Broadway, Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 2014

After checking into the Sheraton Nashville Downtown, I did what this stranger said and wandered down to Broadway. Immediately, I was enamored with the scene. I spied music-themed décor everywhere. It was 11 a.m. and musicians were already strumming guitars on the sidewalks.

Maybe I was caught up in the small-town-girl-in-the-big-city romance but something beautiful was happening. An emptiness I was accustomed to being part of me was filling with something I had forgotten was missing, the spirit of music.

Through the Decades - Johnny Cash Museum, Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 2014

Through the Decades – Johnny Cash Museum, Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 2014

I really, really liked this town.

Only having a half hour before the conference began, I ended up taking a whirlwind tour of the Johnny Cash Museum. I know of his music and was a fan of the movie Walk The Line. Although my visit was brief, I left with a greater appreciation for his life as a man and entertainer.

Gordon Kennedy and Me at a Recording for SiriusXM radio’s Music City Connection: Heroes Behind the Hits, Nov. 20, 2014

Gordon Kennedy and Me at a Recording for SiriusXM radio’s Music City Connection: Heroes Behind the Hits, Nov. 20, 2014

Songs Are Born in Nashville
I was told Nashville is home to the largest songwriter community in world. Lucky me, the conference was treated to a pretty nifty evening with award-winning songwriters during a live taping for SiriusXM radio’s Music City Connection: Heroes Behind the Hits. Even luckier, I was sitting in the front row as Danny Flowers, Gordon Kennedy and James House performed some of their famous songs. My favorite performance was “Change the World” in which Kennedy co-wrote it with Tommy Sims and Wayne Kirkpatrick.

Danny Flowers and Me at a Recording for SiriusXM radio’s Music City Connection: Heroes Behind the Hits, Nov. 20, 2014

Danny Flowers and Me at a Recording for SiriusXM radio’s Music City Connection: Heroes Behind the Hits, Nov. 20, 2014

Sidebar: Eric Clapton recorded it in 1996 and “Change the World” won a Grammy in 1997 for “Song of the Year.”

My soul swelled with more music from The Stage on Broadway with the performance of a band that’s opening for Kenny Rogers. Rhythm carried me back to my hotel as music poured out of bar after bar after bar.

Bar at the Sheraton Nashville Downtown, Nov. 2014

Bar at the Sheraton Nashville Downtown, Nov. 2014

Where to Sleep? Sheraton Nashville Downtown is into Music, Too.
My Nashville hotel – Sheraton – was pretty nifty with its musical accents ranging from the front desk to the bar to my room. I LOVED a simple print sign behind the desk and in my room which read, “What would Dolly do?” in red letters. Seriously, I thought about packing it up in my suitcase.

Cassette Pillow. Too Cool, Right? Sheraton Nashville Downtown, Tenn., Nov. 2014

Cassette Pillow. Too Cool, Right? Sheraton Nashville Downtown, Tenn., Nov. 2014

In addition to a framed print of colorful guitars, the Dolly sign and other sweet photos of Nashville, a throw pillow sat in a chair fit for a music star. Why mention the pillow? It looked like a cassette tape!

Out and About in Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 20, 2014

Out and About in Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 20, 2014

Thank You, Nashville. My Heart is Singing Again
I’m not 100 percent sure but I’m guessing the Nashville Sandman sprinkles some sort of hypnotizing magical musical dust when he visits guests each night because I left the Music City happier, a little lighter and found the dance in my step. Okay, the reality is, who doesn’t love music? Whatever the reason, my brief trip helped me find my soundtrack.

Thank you, Nashville. My heart is singing again. Let’s do it again real soon.

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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