First stop was Nashville, Tennessee for 10 days:
A sparkling Country infused City, filled with all kinds of honky-tonks that waft Hillbilly music onto Broadway’s streets. Nashville seemed awake and jumpin’ at all hours, 7 days a week. With a fondness for The Man In Black, I visited The Johnny Cash Museum. Admired a wall of his hit records on 45rpm, and learnt that he crafted traditional Native inspired jewelry. Although, it was disappointing that the exhibit barely touched upon Johnny & June’s relationship, I always considered her to be an integral part to the growth of his music. On display were multiple couple stage costumes, a photo of the two happily smiling on their wedding day (next to a collage of Cash’s first wife, Vivian), and then a tearful handwritten poem he wrote on the day of June’s funeral. Johnny passed on only 4 months after her. Overall, the exhibit left me with an strange sense of sadness. Johnny wore black for the poor, the sick, the weak, the wrongly accused, in an attempt to shed light on society’s realities.
“I’d love to wear a rainbow every day
And tell the world that everything’s okay
But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back
Till things are brighter, I’m the Man In Black.”
- Johnny Cash
The Famous Hatch Show Print Shop in Nashville, TN
Nashville worked its magic by cheering me up at night, the venues seldomly charge cover, so you can sample a few tunes before moving along to another hot spot, and it’s custom to throw a few dollars in the musicians tip buckets. The best venue I frequented was the Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar, tucked away a few blocks from Broadway in Printer’s Alley. Other notable places were Robert’s Western World, where I saw a phenomenal 19-year-old guitarist perform like he lived in the seventies, Daniel Donato is definitely going places with his Fenders. Right next door to Robert’s is Layla’s with the turquoise sign and hundreds of worn license plates hanging from the ceiling, they feature heavier foot-stompin’ hillbilly bands.
Out of the many locals who I met, only one of them was a born ‘n’ raised Nashvillian:
Billy Hazelwood Born in January, 1935
“I’m 79 years old, ‘n only made it up to grade eight before I quit school to help out with the family farm. God has been lookin’ out for this fool. Spent 37 years workin’ in a factory, Ford Motors it was, they treated me well.”
I had the best time staying at a swanky downtown hostel, where I met fellow travellers and music lovers. The rain was kind in Nashville, I was lucky to be jumping puddles while people were shoveling snow back home. The cherry trees even blossomed during my stay, and on the day of my departure their soft petals filled the back streets as I carried my luggage to the Greyhound station, heading to catch a bus to the Delta.