US Road Trip Travelog: 21st February 2005

After yesterday's sloth-like behaviour, I need to get out and about today. Thankfully the heavy thunderstorms of last night have finished and it's looking like a reasonably sunny day.

The Gaylord Entertainment Center the Country Music Hall of Fame
The side of the Gaylord Entertainment Center and, in the distance, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

I could have done this over the weekend but when I wandered in it was very crowded so I thought I'd save it for Monday. For $23 you get admission to the museum and also a ride out to RCA Studio B. It's the latter I'm most interested in, so decide to do that first.

RCA Studio B
RCA Studio B. For some recordings they had 55 musicians in here.

Like the Sun Studio this tour is accompanied, with commentary from a guide. In this case a very good one, an older guy who can remember seeing Elvis back in the 50's and adds his own anecdotes to the usual spiel. There isn't actually an awful lot to see but he does a good job of telling the history of the place and the creation of the 'Nashville Sound'. Some of the asides are fascinating as well - did you know that Elvis was blond and dyed his hair to the same colour as Roy Orbison's, or that Dolly Parton has published 3500 songs? Well, I didn't. The list of famous artists who recorded here is huge, and covers not only country and rock 'n roll but also pop music. Just about anyone famous from the 50's or 60's probably stood in this studio at some point.

The piano in RCA Studio B
The piano in RCA Studio B, which Elvis supposedly tried to buy on many occasions due to its sound.

Back at the main Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and time for a walk around. As with so many other places, photos are not allowed inside. The history of country music is very well told but what surprises me most is that they also find time to include artists outside of the mainstream - Gram Parsons, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Eagles, Steve Earle and Jason & The Scorchers all get their own space. They also seem a bit hesitant, though this could just be wishful thinking on my part, to accept the 'hat' acts (Garth Brooks, Shania Twain etc.) into the fold. Maybe one day they'll find space for the / americana bands.

The highlight for me, though, is on one of the big video screens at the beginning. On continuous loop are a few early TV shots, including my current favourite Wanda Jackson. Wanda introduces a song along the lines of: "I hope you want to hear a love song. If you listen real real close to the words then you'll hear that this is a love song.". She then launches into a rasping rockabilly version of 'Mean Mean Man' that takes absolutely no prisoners. What a lady. On the way out and in the shop I find a CD by Emmylou Harris recorded live at the Ryman Auditorium, which seems an appropriate addition to my collection. I really must get some sort of portable CD player sometime soon, though, as the CD's are mounting up and I would love to hear them.

Back at my motel, after an excellent steak in a restaurant downtown, and I must admit that I really am itching to get back on the road. Much as I like Nashville I hate being without my car and the freedom it gives me. I've spoken to Coleman Taylor and the bad news is that the transmission rebuild is likely to cost nearer $3000 than $2000 (as seems to be always the way). The good news is that I may be able to get the Riviera back tomorrow. I can't wait.

US Road Trip Travelog: 22nd February 2005 >