My mom and I like to take a trip together when we can. When she approached me about going somewhere this year, she had no idea where she felt like going. I was suggesting Boston, because I thought she’d really like it there but she wasn’t feeling it. So I pulled up google maps and started naming places across the US. When I got to Nashville she got really excited and so that’s where we decided to go.
We decided to stay in the city our first day, and go to what had been touted as the city’s main attraction: the Country Music Hall of Fame. However, there are lots of ticketing options, so we spoiled ourselves and got their most VIP package, which includes a tour of RCA Studio B and a Hatch Show Print Tour. Hatch was scheduled for Friday, but we thought a tour of Studio B would get us in the right mood for the museum, so we did that first.
The Studio B tour was one of my most faveourite parts of the visit. One, it was super interesting. Two, I loved discovering this with my mom. As soon as we stepped in the studio, our guide gave us an overview of some of the artists who recorded here and played clips of their music and my mom kept saying “I know them!” and singing along. I loved it. It also helped that our guide was so clearly passionate about the studio and the music. I swear he was in tears when he played our final song, “How Great Thou Art” by Elvis recorded live in the very place we were sitting.
The tour took us around the studio, where we listened to recordings made here, watched some videos of recordings, and learned about the studios history. Our guide also had some great stories to tell. Dolly Parton started out on the Porter Wagner show. She had always told herself she’d stay for 5 years, so when she stayed 7, she was ready to move on. Unfortunately she hadn’t told anyone else this. She wrote “I Will Always Love You” for Porter Wagner, and he loved it. Until he found out it was her resignation, as she was going solo.
Elvis also heard that song and wanted to record it. But you see, Elvis didn’t write any of his songs. His deal was that he’d get 50% of any royalties (great for him, crappy for the writer). So when he told Dolly he wanted to record this song, she said no. He didn’t hear no very often, but it was good for her that she did. She’s made over $25 million in royalties (thanks you Whitney), so she would have lost half had Elvis recorded a cover.
One last story, the piano above was Elvis’ favourite piano. He would drop by the studio at night, and play gospel songs on the piano until he decided which song they would record that night (Elvis followed his own rules). He told the studio he wanted the piano, and they said no. He offered to purchase the piano, the studio still said no. So those are two of the few times he’s been refused. But we was able to drop by the studio and play it whenever he was in town, so that option stayed open.
From the studio we returned to the hall of fame and spent a few hours going through the museum. The top floor was full of music my mom grew up with, from Hank Williams to Carl Perkins, etc. The second floor was a little more modern, with exhibits on people like Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton and Keith Urban, who I discovered my mom has a huge crush on.
Some personal favourite things on display:
What do I hear when we leave the Cuontry Music Hall of Fame? The Dixie Chicks practicing in the stadium next door. Tickets to their show were sold out before we booked our trip, so it was nice to still be able to hear them live.
And then we entered the Johnny Cash Museum, which was (obviously) all about Mr. Cash and his friends. It was pretty great.
Mom and I are quick learners. It only took us going to about 5 restaurants and seeing they were full to realize we either needed reservations or free time. We eventually found food (and drinks – it had been a long day!) and caught a night bus tour around the city. Some sites we had already seen, and others were a bit far for us to get to, so the bus seemed like a good idea.
And it was a good idea, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that the guide was the most annoying 23-year-old in Nashville. Pretty sure I know just as much about her as I do about the city…
Anyways, some night views. We started down Broadway, to Parliament, then around to Bicentennial Park.
Built in 1996 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Tennessee’s statehood, the 19-acre park shows of Tennessee’s history including such features as a 200-foot granite map of the state, a World War II Memorial, a 95-Bell Carillon, a Pathway of History and the Rivers of Tennessee Fountains.
We only had time to check out the World War II Memorial and the 95-Bell Carillon, but it looked like a great park to spend time in.
The carillon has 95 columns and a bell in each one, representing the 95 counties in Tennessee. It’s planned so the acoustics are the best if you stand right in the center (obviously music city would know how to get good acoustics). We made it just in time to hear them ring.
From Bicentennial Park we made out way to the Centennial Park, to see Nashville’s Parthenon. For Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition, they built a 100 replicas of sites around the world, but decided to make the Parthenon the only permanent fixture. They actually went to Greece and studied the original, as they wanted to make this one an exact replica. And when Greece decided to restore their Parthenon, they came to Nashville to study this one. The columns are wider on the bottom than on the top, so it looks like its farther away than it is. Pretty cool.
Our final stop was on Nashville’s pedestrian bridge which offered great views of the city.
All in all, a great first day.