Tag Archives: Grand Ole Opry

A Relaxing Night in the Way Too Busy City of Nashville

27 Aug

Last night, we had dinner with friends at Silo, a restaurant in the Germantown neighborhood of Nashville. On the way, we hit little traffic and, once we arrived, found a parking spot within a few yards. You may ask why I mention that and here is the answer.

A few blocks from the restaurant, the Nashville Soccer Club was playing in the recently built minor league baseball stadium.

Just past their stadium, Taylor Swift was performing in front of over 60,000 screaming fans at Nissan Stadium.

From there, a short walk across the pedestrian bridge would have taken you to Ascend Amphitheater where Needtobreathe was putting on a show.

Down the street from the amphitheater, Journey and Def Leppard packed Bridgestone Arena with fans reminiscing about the 1980s.

Across the street from Bridgestone Arena, over 4,000 people were competing in the Pokemon Finals at the Music City Center.

Up the hill from there, another sold out show was being held at the historic Ryman Auditorium.

On top of all that, Garth Brooks appeared on two shows of the Grand Ole Opry.

In short, there was a lot going on in Nashville. In fact, it is estimated that over 130,000 fans were in the city for some kind of event.

However, we had a nice dinner without any hustle and bustle. The only issue was everyone in the back of the car trying to get this picture right before posting it on social media.

While others were rocking the night away, older eyes were trying to determine how they looked in a picture as I rolled down the interstate.

By the way, dinner was awesome. If you make it to Nashville, then you should definitely go to Silo.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Finding Out About the Ade Family Mystery

19 Mar

I was hanging out by the magazine stand in Walgreen’s when a title caught my eye. The Greatest Unsolved Mysteries of All Time: 50 Baffling Cases from the Files. It struck me that this would fit nicely as the latest edition to the “Listeria” series. It was a grand plan. I would see how many of these mysteries have taken place in my lifetime. Of course, a synopsis of each one would be included.

Then, everything changed. I was glancing through the mysteries when the pages turned to a segment called “Who Wiped Out the Ade Family?” That was new. I had never heard of the Ade family. However, the first sentence got my attention because it said the crime was committed in Nashville. One of the great unsolved mysteries of all time happened a few miles down the road, and I had never heard of it.

Honestly, I thought I knew about most of the infamous crimes that took place around here. I have read as much as possible about the murder of Stringbean, a performer on the Grand Ole Opry, and his wife. For years, people around here wanted to know who killed Marcia Trimble, who was killed while delivering Girl Scout cookies. I even know a little about the Harpe brothers, who some think were a couple of the earliest serial killers in America.

However, I had never heard of the Ade family. I read the article and immediately went to Google to find out more. There was not much. The article had as much information as the other sources. In fact, some of it used the same language. I guess when you cannot find much, then you go with what you can.

The murders took place in Joelton, a community in Davidson County. A neighborhood saw fire in the distance and made his way to the Ade residence. The entire family and a guest were inside and consumed by the fire. When authorities investigated, they realized that the family had been killed, and the fire was set to cover it up.

The mystery of who did it has continues until now. Considering that it took place in 1897, the cold case will remain that way.

There is nothing for me to add to the mystery. I am writing about it because, as far as I know, the family has been forgotten. I understand that the crime will never be solved, but more people who live in this area should know that the crime took place. They should know that one of the great mysteries of the world took place in Nashville, and no one has delved into it enough to fill up a decent Wikipedia page.

The victims were:

Jacob Ade, 60

Pauline Ade, 50

Lizze Ade, 20

Henry Ade, 13

Rosa Moirer, 10

Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry

19 Nov

Living near Nashville has many perks but being around a lot of great music is at the top of the list. You can go almost anywhere and hear talented people. However, there is one place that stands above the rest. The Ryman Auditorium sits downtown and was, for many years, home of the Grand Ole Opry, the radio show that put the music into Music City. I have been to the “Mother Church” many times for many types of concerts, but Friday night brought a completely different experience. Necole and I were able to go backstage at the Ryman for the Grand Ole Opry, which moves back to its home during the offseason.

Our hosts were Dr. Bob and Leslin, his daughter. Leslin was one of my students and has a great blog. They were able to get us in because Dr. Bob is the doctor who many stars see when they have issues with their voice. He knows a lot of performers and was able to provide us with this special experience.

We started the evening with a great meal at Sperry’s, one of Nashville’s dining institutions. Then, we headed to the Ryman. I was worried about getting a parking space because Justin Timberlake was performing across the street, but Dr. Bob and Leslin had that taken care of. We parked in the lot reserved for the Opry performers.

We walked through the alley between the Ryman and Nashville’s famous honky tonks. We made it to the backstage entrance, and the history began to hit me. Country legends had climbed those same steps to perform for a packed house and countless people listening across the nation on WSM radio. When their set was finished, they would walk back down the steps to the bars across the alley. That’s where they would kill time until the second show.

Up the stairs was a man at a desk with a list of names. Once we got past him, we walk through the door and were on the stage. The show had already started. Music was playing, and the crowd was clapping. Immediately, one of the backup singers hugged Dr. Bob and told us to come on up. We ended up standing next to the backup singers. Everyone in the audience could see us. In front of us was the announcer who introduces the acts and reads the commercials. Eventually, he walked over and talked to us.

At the first break in the action, I took a picture of what was going on behind the curtain.Opry 1

Necole and I were amazed at the casual atmosphere. As the music played, people were talking and joking around. It was like a big family reunion. The hallways were small, and people couldn’t help but bump into each other. At one point, Dr. Bob wanted to introduce us to someone. We walked over and had a good conversation about music and life in Middle Tennessee. He asked about our jobs, and we asked about his. Around the corner, Riders in the Sky were practicing, and Necole became more interested in them than the conversation. She had to have a picture, and I took it. I am not great a picture-taking, so the blurriness is the fault of the photographer.Opry 2

Later, the accordion player asked me what I did for a living. When I told him that I was a historian who researched the American West, he nearly fell out. He wanted to talk all about the history of cowboys and their music. That’s when I told him about the magazine I had that listed them as one of the top 50 artists of the Western music genre. He acted like he didn’t know it.

We went back to the stage in time to see an elderly lady perform. The crowd was cheering enough for us to know that she was a major star, but we couldn’t tell who she was. Dr. Bob found out that it was Jean Shephard. None of my group recognized the name, so I got to show them some of my knowledge of music history. She was a big star in the 50s and 60s but faced terrible tragedy. Hawkshaw Hawkins, her husband, died in the same plane crash that killed Patsy Cline.

Eventually, it was time for the last segment, and the host walked into the wings. At first, all we could see was his red coat. When he turned around, we saw that it was Jim Ed Brown, another great star of the past. He sang a few songs before introducing the band that we had come to see – Old Crow Medicine Show. The newest members of the Opry brought down the house with an energetic performance that included “Wagon Wheel“, which was their song before it was Darius Rucker’s.

That’s when Necole and I realized that the guy we talked to earlier (back when Riders in the Sky was practicing) was the lead singer of Old Crow Medicine Show. Everyone around us was taking pictures. This is one that I took.Opry 3

That’s Jim Ed in the red coat, and the announcer standing next to him. The crowd loved Old Crow Medicine Show to the point that Jim Ed gave up his last song for them to be able to sing another one.

After the show, we walked back down the steps and into the alley. People were lined up to get into the honky tonks, and music could be heard coming from all of them. That’s when I realized that the alley is only a few feet across, but there is a long way from those stages to the one we just stood on.

Grand Ole Opry Song

29 Mar

Most people probably know that Nashville is known as “Music City”, and those same people probably know that it is called that because of the country music industry. Nashville actually has been a hotbed of several musical genres. At one time, there was a strong R&B scene, and Jimi Hendrix honed his craft in the clubs on Jefferson Street. Bob Dylan spent a great deal of time in the city, and Elvis Presley recorded here all the time. Heck, the Black Keys and Jack White currently call Nashville home.

Despite a diverse history, country music was and continues to be the dominating form, and, these days, it is dominated by performers like Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Zac Brown. I can’t name them all because I don’t really like what they do. Today’s country seems like a Frankenstein’s monster to me. Take a little bit of country. Take a little bit of rock. Throw in a few more things. Once, you are finished a monstrosity has been created. Personally, I blame Garth Brooks.

Nashville didn’t become “Music City” because of today’s stars. It became “Music City” in the early part of the 20th Century because of a radio show, the Grand Ole Opry. It could be heard every Saturday night on WSM, a powerful AM station that took its signal throughout the United States. In the days before nationwide concert tours, artists could get their music to the masses over the radio. Since the performers gathered in Nashville to perform on the Opry, it made sense for record companies to set up studios nearby. As years passed, Nashville became the destination for those who wanted to get in the country music business.

Sometimes, I think that story gets lost in the glitz and glamor of the modern country music industry. In the old days, country artists didn’t have laser shows at their concerts. They definitely didn’t run around the stage and shake their asses. They stood behind the microphone and sang about heartbreak and trains.

Jimmy Martin was one of the old-time singers.

Jimmy Martin

Jimmy Martin

Known as the “King of Bluegrass”, he performed on the Opry many times. Unfortunately, he faced the demons of alcohol abuse, and uncertainty kept him from becoming a full member of the Opry. Despite that, he recorded “Grand Ole Opry Song“, an ode to the show and the people who made it special. I thought it would be interesting to use that song to introduce (or remind) the blogosphere to some of the people who turned Nashville into “Music City”.

Come and listen to my story if you will I’m gonna tell

About a gang of fellers from down at Nashville

First I’ll start with old Red Foley doin’ the ‘Chattanooga Shoe’

Red Foley

Red Foley

We can’t forget Hank Williams with them good old ‘Lovesick Blues’

Hank WIlliams

Hank Williams

It’s time for Roy Acuff to go to Memphis on his train

Roy Acuff

Roy Acuff

With Minnie Pearl and Rod Brasfield and Lazy Jim Day

Minnie Pearl

Minnie Pearl

Rod Brasfield

Rod Brasfield

Jim Day

Jim Day

Turn on all your radios I know that you will wait

Hear Little Jimmy Dickens sing ‘Take an Old Cold Tater and Wait’

Little Jimmy Dickens

Little Jimmy Dickens

There’ll be guitars and fiddles, Earl Scruggs and his banjo too

Earl Scruggs

Earl Scruggs

Bill Monroe singing out them ole ‘Kentucky Blues’

Bill Monroe

Bill Monroe

Ernest Tubb’s number, ‘Two Wrongs Won’t Make a Right’

Ernest Tubb

Ernest Tubb

At the Grand Ole Opry every Saturday night

There  was Uncle Dave Macon his gold tooth and plug hat

Uncle Dave Macon

Uncle Dave Macon

Cowboy Copas singing ‘Tragic Romance’

Cowboy Copas

Cowboy Copas

Signed sealed and delivered with Sam and Kirk McGee

Sam and Kirk McGee

Sam and Kirk McGee

And the master of ceremony was Mr. George D Hay

George D. Hay

George D. Hay

There was Lonzo and Oscar a-poppin’ bubble gum

Lonzo and Oscar

Lonzo and Oscar

George Morgan singin’ ‘Candy Kisses’ yum, yum

George Morgan

George Morgan

‘Got a Hole in My Bucket’ ‘Bringin’ in that Georgia Mail’

We’ll sing ‘The Sunny Side of the Mountain’

And dance to the ‘Chicken Reel’

You can talk about your singers in all kinds of way

But none could sing the old songs like Bradley Kincaid

Bradley Kincaid

Bradley Kincaid

With his old hound dog ‘Guitar’ and the famous ‘Blue Tail Fly’

Stringbean with Hank Snow and old fiddlin’ Chubby Wise

Stringbean

Stringbean

Hank Snow

Hank Snow

Chubby Wise

Chubby Wise

Now, that’s country.

Aimless Wanderings of the Mind

9 Jul

Yesterday, some friends invited me to spend the night on a houseboat. Figuring that there would be a lot of late night commotion on the boat, I took my iPod in case I needed some solitude for sleep. As it turned out, everyone conked out fast from a day filled with activity, but I plugged the iPod into my ears anyway. The Guns n’ Roses version of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” came on and the following took place in my mind.

I immediately thought of the original Bob Dylan version as it played over the death scene of Slim Pickens in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, one of my favorite westerns.

From there, I thought about one of the times I saw Bob Dylan in concert. He and Willie Nelson had a tour where they played in minor league baseball stadiums. As I watched them from the infield, I kept wondering what the backstage party must have been like.

Then, I started thinking about a local legend involving Willie Nelson. Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge is a famous honky-tonk in Nashville where singers and players would congregate between sets of the Grand Ole Opry.

It seems that one night Willie was in Tootsie’s drowning his sorrows at the bar. He wasn’t making it in Nashville, and, in a moment of depression, he walked outside and sprawled in the middle of Broadway. His intent was to be run over by a car. Fortunately, they got him out of the street; he went to Texas; grew out his hair; and became a legend.

When this entered my mind, I started thinking about the time I saw Willie with Ray Price and Merle Haggard. Price’s biggest hit was “For the Good Times“, which happened to be written by Kris Kristofferson, the one who played Billy the Kid in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.

The other person on the bill, Merle Haggard, is one of my all-time favorites. He performed a song in a movie I recently watched, and I started thinking about a song that appeared in a John Wayne movie called Chisum, an inaccurate retelling of the story of Billy the Kid.

As you can see, Billy the Kid and a bunch of connections to his pop cultural self kept entering my mind. That’s when I started thinking about the last time I visited his grave.At least, that’s his headstone. Some people claim that Billy the Kid got away and lived to be an old man. That’s doubtful. Without a doubt, a flood swept through the cemetery and washed away all of the markers. It may have even carried off a few bodies. So, Billy is probably not anywhere near this piece of rock. However, I started thinking, “What if they had buried him above ground like they do in New Orleans?”

Obviously, this started me down another tread of thought. Earlier this year, we took some students on a field trip to the French Quarter (I know. Cool teacher.), and we toured the City of the Dead, one of their above ground cemeteries. One of the most interesting graves was that of Marie Laveau, voodoo queen of New Orleans.

The grave has offerings left behind by people searching for a blessing. I thought about that, but I also thought about a song by Redbone called “The Witch Queen of New Orleans“.

New Orleans. It’s a cool city, and a lot of movies have been made there. They started running through my mind, but one that I saw the other day stuck out. It was Live and Let Die, the James Bond film that has the scene with an agent watching a funeral parade in the French Quarter. When he asks whose funeral it, he is stabbed and placed in the coffin. That’s when the parade really cranks up. Then, the theme song by Paul McCartney and Wings entered my brain.

That’s when it hit me. Holy crap. “Live and Let Die” was another movie song that was covered by Guns n’ Roses.

By this time, my mind was mush, and I mercifully faded out.