A Most Unreliable Narrator Issue #139.5 I Walk the Line.
Greetings from Nashville, TN!
Welcome to A Most Unreliable Narrator, the slice of life newsletter of GenXer around town, Lisa Rabey. I talk about anything and everything with a bit of swears. I’m glad you’re here.
I have returned from my whirlwind trip to Nashville this past weekend. We’ve lived in Louisville for nearly eight years and have never taken the 2.5-hour drive south. I know, crazy right?
We got there Friday afternoon and decided to walk around Broadway. Broadway is where all the honky tonk bars, boot and hat shops, and tourist trap lie (lay?). It’s insane. It’s essentially the Vegas strip of the mid-south. You couldn’t spit without hitting a bachelorette party where the bride to be wore a pink sash announcing her future intentions, pink cowboy hats, clothes with fringe, and sparkly cowboy boots. We tried to get into a few bars to drink and listen to music but it was rough. It was 5 p.m. and everything was already packed.
We opted to go to the Johnny Cash Museum instead.
I’m not going to explain who Johnny Cash is because it’s 2023 and by god, you should be up to date on one of the most prolific musicians in history.
The museum was a bit pricey but totally worth it in my humble opinion. It starts from when Cash was a young boy growing up in Arkansas (yes, this place does exist despite what many think) and becoming one of the most revered and well-known musicians in any genre in history.
It had stuff ranging from when he met up with Sam Phillips at Sun Records (the beginning of his career) to his death in Nashville when he was 71. Clothes, mementos, receipts, instruments, even some brick from his house in Nashville after it burned down after he died. There were three interesting things to me:
They had the exhibit for Walk the Line, the quasi-bio movie with Joaquin Phoenix playing Cash. (I love this movie so hard, and J has never seen it so I need to rectify that.)
Ready to have your mind blown? The song “I Walk the Line” is over 65 years old. It came out in 1956.
How about them apples?
Since the museum was set to follow Cash’s career and life from start to finish, it ended with the video of Cash’s version of NIN’s song, “Hurt.”
This is probably the song, which came out in 2002, that introduced me to really like Cash. Oh, I knew who Cash was long before that but really? Covering NIN’s song? This is what hooked me.
“Hurt” is not the only pop song Cash covered. He also covered Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.”
(J pointed out the influence of Old Dutch Masters in the video was evident with the still lifes of rotting fruit and dead animals. It’s a comment on death and decay, J! C’mon now!)
(“Personal Jesus” is crap and there is no official video of it.)
Both songs are found on his album, “American IV: The Man Comes Around.”
(I need to get this on vinyl.)
And the third interesting thing is they were selling his autobiography Cash by Johnny Cash but not Forever Words his book of poetry which came out in 2016. (I’ve read Forever Words and it’s pretty powerful stuff.)
Not sure why the latter struck me as odd and interesting, but it did.
(I’ve just ordered Cash as none of my libraries have it.)
I bought my souvenir magnet and headed to the Patsy Cline Museum, located next to the Cash museum, but it was closed for the night.
Speaking of which, why did all the museums close at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. on a Friday night? Prime tourist time!
On our way to Broadway, we passed by Rudy’s Jazz Room and tried to get in but the show was booked full.
You know what? I don’t even remember where we had dinner that night.
Saturday was bright and early, and a lot warmer than the previous day. It was so cold Friday night I bought ear warmers at a tourist trap.
After breakfast, we headed to The Country Music Hall of Fame.
That place was fucking packed to the rafters. Obviously, since it was a Saturday.
The line to get in wrapped to outside so we stood in the queue, taking after the Brits, before getting inside.
The first thing you’re assaulted with when you enter is the Taylor Swift Education Center.
(Now, I’m not a Swiftie while I do enjoy her music but I know many people who are so I did an IG bundle just for them.)
The education center was pretty cool and Best Kate squealed as I texted her pics from the Swift exhibit.
The CMHF museum started out with the roots of country, which stretches back hundreds of years combining influences from all over the damn place. (A history of country music can be found here.)
Like the Cash museum, there was everything from pictures, clothing, instruments, documents, even cars such as Elvis’ gold plated 1960 Cadillac 75 Fleetwood which had fridge, TV, phone, and other accouterments. In 1960! Elon Musk, eat your heart out.
The early beginnings exhibits were interesting, but we lost interest as we got to the newer stuff. One of the video rooms, people were enraptured watching Cash’s video “Hurt.” Having the video there was interesting since it was on perm display at the Cash museum. It was also not too surprising the info on Cash and the Carters (June’s family who were one of the earlier players of country) were on the sparse side.
What I did like was they had a small exhibit for Darius Rucker. Rucker is the front man for Hootie & the Blowfish who hit it big in 1994 with “Let Her Cry” and in ’95 with “Only Wanna Be with You.” Rucker is making a name for himself in country, and I think that’s pretty awesome.
I bought my magnet and headed to the Nashville Parthenon, the “Athens of the south.”
You’re probably thinking, “Lisa, why is there a copy of the Parthenon in Nashville?” And that is a very good question, dear reader! Turns out it was built for the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition and later turned into an art museum.
The Parthenon mainly hosts Tennessee artists, and there were a lot of landscapes, and a modern art exhibit. What really set it apart was the reproduction of the Athena Parthenos statue. A lot of the friezes and statues were copies of copies and there was an exhibit on the cleaning and care of the copies, some dating back a couple hundred years.
There were opera singers who were belting their hearts out around the Athena Parthenos statue. We really liked the show.
The Parthenon was a short tour, so we walked to Hattie B’s Hot Chicken for lunch.
(It should be noted J and I walk everywhere when we travel if it’s a reasonable amount of distance (say, 1.5 miles or less) so other than the one uber we took, I cannot comment on the public transportation system.)
Hattie B’s is a local institution serving up Nashville hot chicken. No matter which Hattie B’s you went to in Nashville, there was at least an hour-long line to get in so we waited because we were there and we were hungry.
I ordered the kid’s tendies meal with mild seasoning and J got the regular three tendies with “Damn Hot” seasoning which was really fucking hot. J had tears running down his face while I gleefully ate my mild tendie. I did try a bit of the Damn Hot crumbs and jesus take the wheel, it was intense. Even though I did not finish my meal, I had a few bites of their banana pudding and that was delightful.
We were done with everything about five o’clock so we headed back to the hotel room. Over breakfast I got us tickets to go to Rudy’s Jazz Room which didn’t start until 11 p.m. so we had some time to kill.
Cannot forget a picture of Dolly!
Gonna fess up here that I hemmed and hawed about heading to the show. The tickets were cheap ($10) but I had this thing up my ass about being out late. What has happened to me? I finally hawed enough to go.
And boy howdy, am I glad we did.
J and I sat at a hightop eating French Quarter Fries (beans and rice with sausage and cheese poured over French fries) and drinking lovely drinks like the Pink Panther, essentially a boozy pink lemonade.
The Rory and Nalani Jazz Trio were playing and they were really good! They did a mix of American songbook splashed with a few of their own songs. Nalani made sweet, sweet love to her bass while playing “Fever.”
I swear to god that woman orgasmed on stage along with half the room.
We went to the hotel around 1:30 a.m, crashed, and left Nashville after breakfast Sunday morning.
Would we go again? Hard to say. We did note some comparisons that Louisville is trying SUPER HARD to be like Nashville and is not even close. Nashville isn’t that much bigger than Louisville but it feels a lot bigger with everything that is going on. Overall, I’m glad we did go as I had a good time and it was a fun way to spend a weekend.
(Note: J and I are now apparently “social” people now. Heading to Rudy’s was the second live show we had seen in a week and this Thursday we have reservations at Hell or Highwater, a speakeasy, to see a jazz trio. J is now in charge of finding jazz shows and I’m on the hook for everything else. I just bought tickets to see Drive-By Truckers in March.
If we’re going to be living in this godforsaken town for a few more years, might as well make the best of it.)
Hope you enjoyed this brief tour of Music City!
Note: Today marks the first day of Lent. I’m a very lapsed Catholic but I had ideas of Ash Wednesday which, tbh, frightened the bejesus out of me. SO! I decided to take the 40 days as a time of self-reflection which means I’m off of social media: Facebook, Insta, Mastodon, and Twitter. If you want to chat and say, “What’s up!?”, reply to my emails or leave a comment. xo