Tag Archives: Country Music Hall of Fame

The Tennessee Bucket List

29 Mar

We spent Saturday afternoon roaming around Nashville. We ate lunch on the patio at Burger Republic and played around at Centennial Park. In between, we browsed through some shops. It was while browsing that I found a book called The Tennessee Bucket List: 100 Ways to Have a Real Tennessee Experience. Actually, it only lists 99 ways because the last one is something that a writer would put in there when he could not think of anything else to add.

Anyway, I bought the book because I wanted to know how many of these I had done. Heck, I have lived in Tennessee my entire life. I must have done most of them. Also, buying the book meant I could write a blog post.

Here goes the list of my real Tennessee experience.

See a Show at the Grand Ole Opry – I have seen the Opry at the Opry House and at the Ryman Auditorium. Thanks to a former student my wife and I were lucky enough to see the Opry backstage at the Ryman. She got her picture with Riders in the Sky.

Behold the Beauty of a Tennessee Walker – We have had box seats at the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration since I was a kid. Most people go to Shelbyville for the horses. I go for the donuts.

Watch a NASCAR Race – Actually, I have been to a NASCAR race in Alabama. I will be at the Bristol Motor Speedway for the first time in the Fall, and that will be for a football game.

Sip Moonshine – Everyone has done this, right?

Wander the District – You cannot have the full Nashville experience without going to this part of town.

Explore a King’s Mansion – The TV Room is my favorite part of Graceland. The Outlaw Josey Wales is playing all of the time.

There are three tv's. I left out the one showing the trivia answer.

Be a Part of an Archaeological Dig – I am not sure how much digging is done in Tennessee, but there was once a dig on my family’s farm.

See a Civl War Reenactment – The dad of one of my friends took me to a reenactment of the Battle of Stones River. It was surreal to see people pretend that they were living in the past.

Enjoy a Goo Goo Cluster – You have not had candy until you have had a Goo Goo.

See Seven States at the Same Time – Rock City is an old-time roadside attraction that has survived into the 21st Century. If you are near Chattanooga, then you have to, as the barn roofs say, See Rock City.

Take a Walk Down Music Row – You may not see a famous person, but you will pass buildings where awesome music has been created.

Walk the Field at Shiloh – Almost 110,000 Americans fought on this land. There were more casualties in this battle than in all of America’s previous wars combined. It is a haunting place.

Explore Cades Cove – When the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was formed, land was taken from people who had lived in the mountains for years. This community has been preserved in its rustic state.

Stroll Down Beale Street – The Blues was not born in Memphis, but this is where the great Bluesmen gained fame.

See the Sunsphere – In 1982, the World’s Fair was held in Knoxville. It is the last World’s Fair to make a profit, but the Sunsphere is all that is left.

Buy a Pair of Boots – I admit that I have done it.

Stand in the Footsteps of History – Everyone should visit the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. It is housed in the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. A few years ago, I took my family.

Explore the Titanic – Yep, the Titanic is in Tennessee. Specifically, it is in Pigeon Forge. It sounds strange, but it is an awesome museum.

See a Shark – Yep, sharks are in Tennessee. Specifically, they are at an aquarium in Gatlinburg, which is down the road from Pigeon Forge.

Hear Al Green Preach – I am cheating on this one. I have never heard Al Green preach, but I have heard him sing.

Visit Franklin on Foot – Downtown Franklin is a great place to visit. The city has found the right combination of preservation and enterprise.

Behold the Statue of Athena – Actually, we saw this on the same day I bought the book. Nashville has the Parthenon because it used to be known as the Athens of the South. Inside the Parthenon stands Athena.image-10

Strum a Guitar – Everyone has done this, right?

See a College Football Game – I have seen games at Neyland Stadium, Dudley Field, Nissan Stadium, the Liberty Bowl and Cumberland University’s Nokes-Lasater Field. However, the coolest one was Chamberlain Field in Chattanooga, which opened in 1908. When it closed, it was the second oldest college football stadium in the country.

Play Miniature Golf – It is one of my favorite things to do. The best place to do it? Hillbilly Golf in Gatlinburg.

Spend the Afternoon Shopping – The book talks about Opry Mills. However, the Mall at Green Hills is the best.

Savor a MoonPie – It is an awesome snack, but it is best paired with a RC Cola.

Visit the Grave of Meriwether Lewis – This is the Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame. He met a mysterious end in a tavern along the Natchez Trace.

See a Bear in the Woods – I saw a bear with her cubs at Cades Cove. Luckily, I did not end up like Leo DiCaprio.

Go Line Dancing – Everyone has done this, right?

Spend a Day at Dollywood – I have been to Dollywood after it was called Dollywood. I have also been there when it was called Silver Dollar City. I have also been there when it was called Gold Rush Junction.

Watch the Marching of the Ducks – The Peabody Hotel in Memphis is a nice hotel. It is also the home of some cool ducks.

Go Whitewater Rafting – Everyone has done this, right?

Visit the Country Music Hall of Fame – We try to go there each time they open a new exhibit. It is a great museum

Explore Market Square – This is a part of downtown Knoxville with a lot of cool restaurants and shops.

Pig Out of Memphis-Style Barbecue – Nashville people do not like to give Memphis credit for anything. However, they are tops when it comes to barbecue. Go to Rendezvous.

See an Eagle – A few wild ones can be seen around here.

Discover the Mighty Mississippi – At times, I have just sat and watched it flow by.

Ride a Sky Lift – For years, it has been a Gatlinburg landmark. Everyone has to ride it at least once.

Visit the Jack Daniels Distillery – Jack Daniels is produced in Lynchburg, which sits in a dry county. You cannot buy alcohol where the most famous whiskey is made.

Sit in the “Scopes Monkey Trial” Courtroom – One of my greatest moments as an educator was talking about the Scopes Trial in the courtroom. It is worth a visit to Dayton.

Sing “Rocky Top” – I have sung it thousands of times at the top of my lungs. However, I cannot bring myself to sing the “WOO” part.

Tour a Plantation – They are everywhere.

See a Lady Vols Basketball Game – I have seen a bunch of games and seen a bunch of victories. However, it is not the same without Pat Summitt.

Tour the Home of a U.S. President – There are three. I have seen two. Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk.

Ascend the Space Needle – It is a ride high over Gatlinburg.

See a Titans Game – I have done this a bunch. It was fun when they were winning. These days, it is not as much fun.

Cheer on the South (or North) – When I went to the Dixie Stampede, we were late and could only get tickets on the North side. I was told that the North never wins. That night they won.

Take a Riverboat Cruise at Night – Nashville’s General Jackson is a great ride on a Summer night.

Enjoy an Orchestra – We love going to the Nashville Symphony. They are awesome.

Sink Your Teeth into a King Leo Peppermint Stick – I am not crazy about them, but they are a Christmas tradition.

Walk to the Top of Clingman’s Dome – It is Tennessee’s highest point. Just watch out for the fog. They do not call them the Smoky Mountains for nothing.

Listen to a Country Music Concert – Everyone has done this, right?image-11

Visit a Fort – There are forts, but they are not as cool as forts in the American West.

There is my list. I will not write about the things that I have not done. I am sure the author of the book would love for you to buy a copy to see what else is in there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conversation With a Legend

23 Mar

This past Saturday, I was visiting my parents when their neighbor pulled up in a golf cart. I went out to talk with him and noticed a couple of fishing poles in the back of the cart. He wanted to spend some time fishing in the pond behind the house.

We talked for a few minutes, and he talked about the beauty of the land around us. I thanked him and told him how much I liked the farm from which he had just moved. I told him that I remembered my parents taking me on Sunday drives when I was a kid and how we used to drive by his place.

He asked me if I remembered when Paul McCartney lived on his farm in the early 1970s. I was too young to remember that, but I told him that I have heard a bunch of stories about it. He was also glad to hear that the Country Music Hall of Fame has a panel about McCartney’s time on the farm in their latest exhibit.image-9

I was talking to Curly Putman, and his farm was immortalized by Paul McCartney in a song called “Junior’s Farm.” However, Mr. Putman is more than just a man who sold his farm and moved close to my parents. He is also one of the music’s most accomplished and successful songwriters.

Not long after we started talking, my parents came out to visit, and I drove to the pond to open the gate. On the way back, I stopped and talked some more with Mr. Putman. We talked about how many people consider his song “He Stopped Loving Her Today” to be the greatest Country song of all time. However, “Green, Green Grass of Home” has always been my favorite.

Mr. Putman said that it is also one of his favorites because it has been recorded by more than 700 artists. A song that was not a big hit when it first came out has stood the test of time.

I did not want to keep Mr. Putman from fishing. I pulled away as he rode toward the pond. However, I hope that I get to talk to him again and find out how he can sit down and write a song.

The Cinematic Legacy of Jerry Reed

8 Mar

The other day, I told the story of our visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame. While writing it, another post came to mind.

Jerry Reed was featured in the museum’s latest exhibits on Nashville musicians. He was one of the greatest guitarists who ever came to town and played on a ton of albums. Chet Atkins thought that Jerry Reed was better than him. In addition to playing for other performers, Jerry Reed also had his own string of hits, and this video from The Porter Wagoner Show provides a good example of his talent.

With all of that being said, some people may know Jerry Reed more for his movies than for his guitar playing. That is why this post is not about his numerous songs. It is about the five movies that, in my opinion, are Jerry Reed’s best.image-8

There is no better time to start the list than now.

5. What Comes Around was released in 1985. It was not a great movie and probably cannot be found anywhere. However, it must make the list because part of it was filmed in my hometown. In the climatic scene, they blow up a building, and, in real life, that building was the original Cracker Barrel. A ton of people went out to watch the explosion.

By the way, they did not really blow up the building. It is still standing.

4. W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings was also filmed in this area. Released in 1975, it was Jerry’s first collaboration with Burt Reynolds, which would lead to the top movie on this list. The movie also starred other Country music performers. It is cool to watch and see some places in Nashville that no longer exist.

3. Gator came out in 1976 and also starred Burt Reynolds. In fact, it is a sequel to an earlier Reynolds movie. It is also different because Jerry played the bad guy. He was a criminal empire of drugs, gambling and prostitution. He also had a sidekick named Bones whose head stuck out of the sunroof of the car.

2. Bat 21 was released in 1988 and was a completely different movie from the other ones on the list. It is a true story that stars Gene Hackman as a pilot stuck behind enemy lines in Vietnam. I will not spoil the plot, but Hackman, Reed and Danny Glover find an ingenious way to get him out. If you have not seen it, then it is worth a watch.

1. Released in 1977, Smokey and the Bandit is one of the greatest movies of all time. If you do not think that, then you are wrong. That is just the way it is. Jerry plays Snowman, the truck driving sidekick of the Bandit, played by Burt Reynolds. Did I say that it is one of the greatest movies of all time? It was the second highest grossing movie of the year behind Star Wars. I really do not know what else to say. It is great.

Bonus

There is one more Jerry Reed appearance that I must mention. In 1972, he played himself in The New Scooby-Doo Movies. His performance of “Pretty Mary Sunlight” may be one of the greatest things that has ever been on animated television.

Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats

4 Mar

A few week ago, my wife and I visited the Country Music Hall of Fame, which we like to do when they have an interesting exhibit. This time, they had a couple of exhibits that I wanted to see. The first was about Sam Phillips and Sun Records. The second was about the friendship between Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash and the effect it had on the Nashville music scene.image-7

Nashville has always been known for Country music, but I have been more fascinated with the story of Nashville’s other music. For example, it has a deep Rhythm and Blues history and is where Jimi Hendrix got his start.

I have read about Dylan’s time in Nashville and was interested to see how the Country Music Hall of Fame would present it. They did better than I could have imagined and introduced me to facts that I did not know.

Obviously, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash were the focus, but that was only the beginning. It covered the artists who were inspired by Dylan’s work in the city and followed him here. It was awesome to see the display on Paul McCartney and his time living in my hometown of Lebanon.image-9

The story of Paul McCartney’s time in town has gone down in local lore, but there were a ton of artists that I never knew recorded here. On the way out, I bought an album of songs that were highlighted in the exhibit, and it provides an example of some of those artists.

Gordon Lightfoot

The Byrds

The Monkees

Leonard Cohen

Country Joe McDonald

Simon and Garfunkel

George Harrison

Ringo Starr

Joan Baez

Neil Young

Derek and the Dominos

Those people are well-known in the history of music. However, this exhibit also highlighted the session musicians who played the music to which those people sang. These are the unsung heroes of Nashville and have become known as the Nashville Cats.

Several people had their own displays, but Jerry Reed was my favorite. Those who only know him as Snowman in Smokey and the Bandit or the football coach in The Waterboy may not realize that he was one of the greatest guitarists to ever play in Nashville. He was the heir apparent to Chet Atkins and had a distinctive style that other players have tried to duplicate.image-8

As always, the Country Music Hall of Fame did a fantastic job with the exhibit. Each time I go to the museum, I learn something new. If you ever make it to Nashville, then you will need to visit the place. Just remember that Country music is not the only music that has come out of this city.

The Eagles Flew in from the West Coast

22 Feb

A few weeks ago, the news broke that Glenn Frey passed away. I meant to write something about his death, but outside influences kept me from it. Then, we watched the Grammy Awards and the tribute with the Eagles and Jackson Browne. Again, I meant to write something, but outside influences kept me from it. Now, it is a quiet Sunday night, and the chance to write has finally arrived.

When I heard about the death of Glenn Frey, my mind went to the first time I saw the Eagles in concert. They were one of my favorite bands, and everyone knew that they would never go on tour. However, I always told myself that I was going to see them if they ever reunited. Then, Hell froze over, and they went on the Hell Freezes Over tour.

I got second row tickets to see them at Starwood Amphitheater and could not wait for the show. I would finally see the Eagles. Then, disaster struck. They postponed a bunch of concerts, including the one in Nashville. I could not remember why they postponed the shows, but, upon Glenn Frey’s death, I read that it was due to his illness. It would be the same medical issue that would eventually cost him his life.

When the show was postponed, many people assumed that it would be cancelled and were refunded for their tickets. I refused to do that. The tickets were too good to let go. I kept them for months before hearing that the show would go on, and it was an awesome show. They opened by playing the entire Hotel California album.Eagles

As the years passed, the Eagles went on more tours, and I saw them a couple of more times. The last concert was a journey through their history with original members coming back to play with later members. However, nothing would compare with seeing that first show and hearing them open with the guitar notes of “Hotel California” as fake lightning flashed behind them.

The Eagles are my favorite band, and Glenn Frey was one of the driving forces behind their music. He will be missed.

As I have been writing this, Eagles songs have been going through my mind. I think I will end this post by listing my Top 5 Eagles songs. Since, “Hotel California” usually dominates such a list, I will leave that one out.

  1. Wasted Time” – The last track on Side 1 of the Hotel California album. It was released in 1976.
  2. Lyin’ Eyes” – The second single from the One of These Nights album. It was released in 1975.
  3. Pretty Maids All in a Row” – The third track on Side 2 of the Hotel California album. It was released in 1976.
  4. Seven Bridges Road” – Appeared on the Eagles Live concert album. It was released in 1980.
  5. Witchy Woman” – The second single from Eagles, their debut album. It was released in 1972.

Over the weekend, my wife and I went to the Country Music Hall of Fame. I mention that because I believe the Eagles should be inducted.

What are your favorite songs by the Eagles?

My iPod Has Issues – Kicking It Off With Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash

31 Aug

My family is watching the MTV Video Music Awards, and I am in my office getting mentally prepared for tomorrow’s classes. The desk is a mess and needs to be cleaned. Looking around, I only see a few things that need to be kept.

The latest edition of National Geographic.

A new voter registration card.

A stack of books that includes Rebel Yell by S.C. Gwynne.

Oh yeah, there are a couple of vinyl albums, “The Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd and “Nashville Skyline” by Bob Dylan.

The Country Music Hall of Fame has a new exhibit about Dylan and Johnny Cash. I will see it before it is gone. In honor of that exhibit and the fact that I do not have the time to put together a real post, we will look into the mind of my iPod. Most of it will be random, but I am going to cheat on the first song.Cash and Dylan

“Girl From the North Country” by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash

“Bustin’ Out” by Rick James

“Tree of Level” by The Fairfield Four

“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” by Elton John

“Under Pressure” by David Bowie and Queen

“Walk On By” by Dionne Warwick

“Sunshine” by Jonathan Edwards

“She Never Knew Me” by Don Williams

“Love is Strong” by The Rolling Stones

“The Cowboy Rides Away” by George Strait

“Midnight Rider” by The Allman Brothers Band

“La Grange” by ZZ Top

“Indian Reservation” by Paul Revere and the Raiders

“White Lightning Ballad” by Charles Bernstein

“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2

“C’mon Everybody” by Eddie Cochran

“Stockholm Blues” by Tony Joe White

“You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” by Judas Priest

“Fantastic Voyage” by Lakeside

“I Want To” by Joe Tex

Nashville Travelogue

18 Dec

The other day, I published a post about visiting the Johnny Cash Museum and got a response from Lunar Euphoria. A trip to Nashville is in the works, and the museum has been added to the list of things to do. Then, the question was raised, “Anything else there I should know about?”

I promised a reply but decided to put it down in a post. It is not an exhaustive list, and I will certainly forget some stuff. However, these are some of the places people should visit when they come to Nashville.Nashville Skyline

Nashville is known as Music City, and music can be found everywhere. Chances are that your waiter can sing better than most of the people on the radio. Here are some of my musical suggestions.

Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge – It sits in the heart of the tourist trap that is Lower Broad. However, it has an interesting history. Performers on the Grand Ole Opry used to saunter into the bar between their appearances on the show.

The Bluebird Cafe – Songwriters sit in the round and play their songs. They also talk about how they came up with the songs.

3rd and Lindsley – It is not a tourist destination, but it is the home of The Time Jumpers, a group of studio musicians who have become a legendary Western Swing band.

The Ryman Auditorium – The original home of the Grand Ole Opry is known as the “Mother Church of Country Music” and is open for backstage tours. It does not matter who you see perform at the Ryman. Hearing music in that venue is an experience unto itself.

Third Man Records – Nashville is not just about country music. To see what I mean, stop by Third Man Records, owned by Jack White. He lives in Nashville along with a lot of other people who most would find surprising.

The Country Music Hall of Fame – This is one of my favorite places in Nashville. The permanent exhibits follow the history of country music. The special exhibits focus on interesting people and interesting times. Oh yeah, get the package that includes a tour of Studio B.

Nashville is also becoming known as a food city. Chefs from throughout the nation are opening restaurants, and it is a haven for foodies. Of course, we have the good old southern stuff, too. Here are my food suggestions.

Rotier’s – Many years ago, a struggling artist ate at Rotier’s quite often. Eventually, he was inspired to write a song about one of his favorite menu items. That song was “Cheeseburger in Paradise” by Jimmy Buffett.

Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack – Nashville has become known for its hot chicken, and Prince’s is the best place to get it. It is fried. It is hot. When you go there, do not be bashful when ordering. If you are, then they might skip over you and go to the next customer.

Southern Steak and Oyster – Want to hang out with the local hipsters and eat some great food? Go to this place. It is one of our favorites, and it is great every time. Unfortunately, oysters are not my thing, but the first half of their name is awesome.

The Farm House – Sitting across the street from Southern Steak and Oyster, this place offers southern food with a touch of class. I cannot write what is good because it all is great. It is not cheap, but it is worth it. On top of that, the owner/chef is from Wilson County, where we live.

BrickTop’s – A lot of people would probably leave this off the list. It is casual fare served in a fern bar atmosphere. However, I think it is awesome. It is especially good for brunch after a long night at one of the music places.

Taco Mamacita – This restaurant is a cool hangout just off Music Row. That means you might see a singer or two eating lunch on the patio. It also means you will be away from the tourists and mingling with the locals.

The music and entertainment aspects of Nashville obscure the fact that it is a historical city. When I say historical, I am not writing about Hank Williams or Patsy Cline. I am writing about non-musical history. Here are my historic suggestions.

The Hermitage – Andrew Jackson was the seventh president of the United States and brought a power to the presidency that the United States had not seen. This is his home and is a great place to learn about his presidency and his life.

Cheekwood – This estate was owned by the family that produced Maxwell House Coffee. It is now an art museum and botanical gardens. There are permanent and rotating exhibits.

Fort Negley – I should let the fort’s official website tell you about its history, but here is something interesting. It was a Union fort during the Civil War. Yes, Tennessee was a Confederate state, but it was not long before Union troops took Nashville. That is when the city became the second most fortified city behind Washington, D.C.

The Parthenon – Centennial Park was the location of an international exhibition in the late 1800s. Those things were all the rage back then. There were numerous buildings, and the Parthenon, a replica of the one in Greece, remains. Why would there be a replica of the Parthenon in Nashville? Because the city was “the Athens of the South” before it was “Music City.” That was due to the large number of universities in the area.

As previously written, there are a ton of things that I have not included or have forgotten. If anyone wants to add something then put them in the comments. However, if you make your way to Nashville, then you should try out a few of these spots.