Nashville was not at all what I expected. Never having heard the term Nash Vegas, I was taken aback by the strip. But it soon turned into the fun night as we started off manhandling the hot chicken at Hattie B’s, where the hottest order is known as “Shut the Cluck Up.” Then onto The Stage to soothe our scalding tongues with heers, an interesting array of ages and bachelorette parties. Then to Tootsie’s, where a bachelorette party was grinding with the Tim McGraw look-alike singer. Then onto Robert’s Western World, with its platinum records hanging on the walls and enigmatic bathroom lines. After the long drive to Nashville, I was not my normal jovial self (aka The Funnest Person Ever), and Elizabeth said:
“You’re here. (raising her hand to waist high). I need you to be here,” (raising it above her head). I complied.
The next day, I tasted what I had assumed all of Nashville to be like – a man, a microphone, an acoustic guitar. We started off by trying to get into The Bluebird Café. After 45 minutes on line in less than 45 degree weather, we bailed and ended up at the Station Inn for some live bluegrass.
We tried The Bluebird the next night, Monday night, for open mic night, and were successful in our endeavor. There are a lot of broken hearts in Nashville. But being huge fans of the “Nashville” on ABC we were excited to be in yet another place that was a setting for the show. A friend in Nashville, Lele, then took me to San Antonio Taco (holy quizo dip!), and then out to Winner’s, for a 22oz PBR. The fancy cocktails at Patterson House closed our evening, and I learned quickly that I don’t like drinks with bitters. This new revelation didn’t stop me from finishing it.
We went to the Ryman, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and when I got a call from the unemployment office, Elizabeth dove into Legend’s Bar, as I took the call outside:
“What is the reason for your unemployment?”
“My boss was an assclown.”
“I didn’t quite hear you.”
“They closed down my department and I was not a good fit for my new position. Yeah, that’s it Sure.”
I’m so glad that call came when it did because our spontaneous stop at Legends allowed us to see some real talent, right off the street. These people, kids really, walk around with a guitar strapped to their backs and just dive into places and play.
Ah, Memphis. What shall I say about thee?. I’m in a good mood so I’ll be nice, and won’t mention that you should have been the location for “The Last Exorcism.” Instead I will mention the fun stuff we saw: Graceland (why do we have to take a bus across the street, it’s RIGHT THERE!”) as we’re surrounded by old people with walkers), Beale Street, live blues, and Rendezvous BBQ. We got a tour of the smoke pits which dry rubs 8,000 pounds of ribs a WEEK. My favorite was Sun Recording Studio tour. To hear the voices of the Million Dollar Quartet – Elvis, Carl Jenkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash – all together, that was really something. The place had soul.
Not being a great sleeper, I did at one point shut my eyes, as we drove through to Birmingham, AL. I felt us taken slow, awkward turns and opened my eyes to see Elizabeth trying to disguise her face of terror as we were about to run out of gas. In , Alabama. We managed to roll into a gas station in silent prayer. A man came out and said, “I can tell from your tags that you’re not from around here.” I hoped that wasn’t the only thing that gave it away, but I kept that to myself, and went inside to pay. I stopped in shock as I saw four deer heads mounted on the wall – not your normal mart. Then I saw an entire family sitting in the back staring at me, all on recliners. I really needed to go to the bathroom, but I felt as though the only one would be available in their home, and had I just walked into their living room? Needless to say, I paid the $62 (gosh darn $4.00 a gallon), and the last thing we heard was:
“Y’all be careful now.”
I peeled out, and we drove in silence, until Elizabeth said: “WHY???? Careful of what, what’s going to happen???” as we drove past cemetery after cemetery, which obviously housed the bodies of those that had stopped for gas in Bexar, Alabama. We were thrilled to get to Birmingham and stay in the most beautiful home, with the coolest couple. I almost laid down on the floor of my own private suite and cried into the carpet.
Roll Tide, Roll.
More tomorrow – New Orleans, and tales of what we do while driving.