'Oh Nashville, I can't wait to see you again'
Saturday afternoon near the corner of Broadway and 3rd Avenue in downtown Nashville is hard to describe. The noise is deafening until you take the time to consciously separate one from the other. Nashville's bars are in full swing. Their open windows expose bands; their lead singers in full throttle, whilst the patrons shout at their companions as they gather around tables. They do not seem to be listening to the music, instead competing with it. There is seriously good music happening as I walk past bar after bar after bar stopping on the footpath briefly to tune into a song. But the noise from the crowded streets is nothing I have experienced before. Vehicles that have been converted into bars; their stools converted into bicycles, pedal down the street. Groups of people raucously pedal as they drink. This is a whole new view of drinking and driving, which is perfectly legal here. The actual driver is sober.
There is a spring in my step as I join the throngs of people walking along the street and it strikes me that despite the alcohol, the crowds are extremely well-behaved, courteous and respectful. Football crowds join the masses of people; many dressed in the pale blue colours of their team, the Titans.
I know I should have done it earlier, but I didn't. I have been meaning to buy a ticket to a show at the Ryman Auditorium and now they are sold out for both tonight and tomorrow.
As I join the crowds once more, I realise that queues are forming for the many BBQ joints and other eating houses as dinner time approaches. I opt to purchase a meal from one of the food trucks in the streets and take it back to the hotel.
My hotel is in a perfect position. Right in the centre of the action and the noise. Music and general noise wafts up to my room and it remains at the same volume all night. I'm not too worried about it as I wanted to stay as close to the action as possible.
My location at the Moxy Hotel is perfect. Directly across the road are the Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline museums. Down the road is the Country Music Hall of Fame and around the corner is the Ryman Auditorium, the original venue for the Grand Ole Opry. The acoustics here are meant to be brilliant and I cannot kick myself enough to know that I missed out on tickets - again.
I've actually decided to spend these days in Nashville because I want to listen to some music. I want to soak the atmosphere and I want to know why Melbourne has lost its way when other cities across the world are picking up the pieces and attracting huge numbers into their central business districts.
I wake up on Sunday morning to the sound of music again. Although I don't know what time they stopped last night, new bands, new hopefuls are setting up their guitars and tragic songs at 10:30 on Sunday morning as the day starts to heat up. I find a cafe in a side street; one that isn't booked out until noon and one that doesn't have a line out the door and halfway along the street. My first stop after breakfast is the Glen Campbell museum. Despite growing up on Glen Campbell's music, I had no idea of his prowess on the guitar until I watched one of the concerts inside the museum. Here, he plays the William Tell Overture that leaves me breathless.
A river of people wearing blue walk across the overpass to the stadium on the other side of the river. It seems that Nashville is not just about the music. They love their football as well. Later, as they return to the streets, buy their beers and stand at the windows of the bars. there is jubilation in the air and I assume that their team has won.
I cannot help wonder why Melbourne cannot get its mojo back. Do we need to import country music to get the city moving? Or do we need to simply clean up our streets to entice people to return. I've seen an almost successful return to full swing after COVID. Sure there are problems with staff shortages, as does the rest of the world, but here is an example of a city getting on with life and I love it.
Most of the museums are closed on Monday, and I notice that the crowds have largely disappeared, nobody is singing at ten o
'clock in the morning and there are plenty of places to eat without the endless queues down the street - except for the diner across the road, which is still as busy as it was over the weekend.
I spend a delightful few hours exploring the city on the trolley hop-on-hop-off bus, which is very popular this morning. it seems that there are still plenty of people sticking around and I can see why. The bus meanders through the touristy parts of town, through the park and down Music Row. It's the perfect end to a few days exploring Nashville and although I think I have plenty of time, I can safely say that I will be back - I have not seen everything yet.
Quote: Oh Nashville lyrics by Rebecca Correia