Nashville is screamingly busy today. This swollen town almost looks like New York, or L.A. Except for all the out-of-towners in cowboy hats and tennis shoes.
I come from cow-people. We had an expression for folks like this: All hat and no cattle.
I meet a young man from Cleveland, wearing a huge Stetson. He is half tight, enjoying the scenery.
He says, “Everyone’s a cowboy in Nashville, man.”
I am standing on Fifth Avenue. At the Ryman Auditorium. Home of the Opry.
I’m here to pay my respects to an old friend. I drove a long way to be here.
The brick and stone tabernacle is the mother church of country music. And when I say “country,” I mean old country. Not the modern sewage of today. The stuff on the radio today is pure-T carrion. And you can quote me.
The Grand Ole Opry began on November 28, 1925. It was a holy day. Radio host George Hay took the mic. He introduced the maiden broadcast by announcing to the world, off the cuff:
gentlemen, for the past hour we’ve been listening to music from the Grand Opera, in New York City, but we now present the Grand Ole Opry.”
And the world was never the same.
Those days are gone, however. The Opry is dead. They still do the Opry broadcast at Opryland. But it’s not the same. Think: Disney World with fiddles.
Beside the Ryman, on the sidewalk, is a bronze statue of Loretta Lynn. She’s not far from the statue of Bill Monroe, father of bluegrass. They both played here.
Loretta is posing with her Epiphone Excellente. She’s wearing her Western fringe.
She died a few days ago. And country music lost its matriarch.
She got her first guitar when she was 18. Which sounds young, except it wasn’t. Not for her.
Not when you consider that Loretta was married to an Army…