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.
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.
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.
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. I spent years reading reviews on Instrument Find, one day hoping to play the drums, but I never got round to it. Although, I did teach myself a few songs on my sister’s PianoSaurous. Even so, music was important.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thankfully, I began hearing snippets to my new soundtrack over the summer. Music has been creeping back into my life and filling my soul.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.