Sunday, March 9, 2008
I'm in Nashville right now...at a broadcaster's conference. I get to come to Music City once or twice a year and I always enjoy it. There's something about the atmosphere...the energy. As you walk along the sidewalk down Broadway, you can hear a lively cocktail of blues, country, rock and jazz spilling out into the streets from the various night clubs and bars. It's a music lover's paradise. Obviously I love music. But many folks are suprised to hear that I like country music. Actually, I like just about every kind of music. In my opinion--a good song is a good song--whether it's rap, rock, pop, jazz, blues, opera...or yes, even country. So imagine how stoked I was today when I was invited to an event at the Grand Ole Opry House. There were about 200 of us who gathered to eat lunch on the stage...the actual stage where legends like Minnie Pearl, Little jimmy Dickens, Hank Williams and a whole slew of other superstars performed. I walked through the hallways and saw the old black and white photographs of artists who were the foundation of American country music. Photos of them singing into bulky old microphones, playing simple acoustic guitars and banjos...on the very same floor where I was now eating my Tuscan Grilled Chicken and mashed potatoes. How cool is that? Actually, most of those performers were part of the Grand Ole Opry back when it was in the Ryman Auditorium. But when the G.O.O. moved to the newer building in 1974 they took a section of the wooden floor from the Ryman stage and put it onto the new stage. So today's performers are standing on the same section of floor that artists like Loretta Lynn, George Jones and Roy Acuff all sang on. One thing I noticed about those old photos. There were a lot of older performers at that time. It seemed almost odd to see artists like Granpa Jones on stage. I remember when I turned 30. I was talking to a record label rep who told me I was "too old" for a label to take a chance on me. Too old at 30! But that's the business today, isn't it? So much of it centers around a "marketable face" over music. Back then, it was all about the music. Sure, there were marketable personalities, but they didn't get anywhere if they didn't have the songs. And my, what songs they were! Songs that meant something. Songs that told stories of heartbreak, love, addiction. There was something so pure about those old days of country music. And it was one of the highlights of my life to be there today. As a bonus...our group sang worship songs together. So now I can say I've sung on stage at the Grand Ole Opry! :) Ahhhhhh....I love Music City!