What famous singers are from Tennessee
Does anyone remember Caleb Hodgekiss? The man, dressed in black, ex-convict, showed up in the seventies in an episode of the TV series “Our Little Farm”. Perhaps at that time other mothers explained to their children the following as they watched: “His real name is Johnny Cash. He's a singer and a drunkard. "
The last time you saw the musician on television was an old man. He wore black, as always, and sang the song "Hurt". He received a Grammy for the poignant music video. The trophy glitters at the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville today.
Bob Dylan ennobled the city with an album
Johnny and his wife June Carter lived in Hendersonville near Nashville for a long time. The longing for a place of remembrance was great after the property burned down in 2007. Now you can see the man in black's suits in a former warehouse in Nashville. A cell door from Folsom Prison is reminiscent of the country outlaw's legendary prison show. A whole room is dedicated to the actor Cash.
Another Nashville fan, Bob Dylan, once ennobled the city with his ninth album. He called it the "Nashville Skyline". When he recorded it in 1969, what is now the tallest building in town did not yet exist. With its 33 floors it is of medium New York standard. It shapes the silhouette. Because of its two bat-eared antennas and the dark design, the Tennessee headquarters of the telecommunications company AT&T is called the "Batman Building".
It is shown again and again in the TV series "Nashville". The fourth season of this soap is currently running about love and intrigue in the country world. The rating hit on American television is representative of the boom that the city on the Cumberland River is currently experiencing.
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Nashville is a magnet. “More and more creative people are moving here from New York or Los Angeles,” says tourism manager Heather Middleton. Not just musicians, but also other artists, designers or gallery owners. They make the city another US creative metropolis. The Music City Center, a trade fair and conference center, opened in 2012, attracts a large number of guests. Many new hotels are being built, 78 restaurants opened last year alone, especially in the trendy East Nashville district. More and more tourists flock here.
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Taylor Swift also contributed to the new sparkle. She went from being a country princess to a global pop star in Nashville. Country is the core business, but many non-country musicians also live and work in the city: the Kings of Leon, Sheryl Crow, The Black Keys, Keb ’Mo’ and Jack White.
Neil Young, The Byrds & Leonard Cohen
The first to come was Bob Dylan. He recorded three albums there from the mid-sixties. The side effect of his search for inspiration was that the provincial image of Nashville began to change. From then on, the city was considered more open, less conservative, no longer hostile to progress, no more than an isolated country house.
Other stars like Neil Young, The Byrds, Leonard Cohen or Simon and Garfunkel followed and made use of the Nashville Cats, the city's top studio musicians. A special exhibition in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is currently honoring their work. You should take a whole day for it.
One of the Nashville Cats is accordion specialist Charlie McCoy. We meet him in the show that is also dedicated to him. You can hardly dress more American than him. He wears a hat from the Nashville Predators, the local ice hockey team, and a shirt printed with US flags and cars. McCoy and his colleagues not only distinguished their creativity and their craftsmanship, they were also used to recording quickly and therefore cheaply.
Recording Dylan's double album "Blonde on Blonde" is said to have only taken 39.5 hours. “But the key to the city has always been great songs,” says the 74-year-old, who has participated in 13,000 sessions.
If you listen to the songwriter Gordon Kennedy, you will get an idea of how Nashville's music industry works today. He is one of hundreds of song suppliers in town. "In the old days the record companies were run by former musicians, songwriters or producers, today by managers," says the 54-year-old, who won a Grammy for his song "Change the World".
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The pressure to succeed in Nashville is extreme - just like the passion of many people who live with and from music there. John McBride, the 57-year-old husband of country queen Martina McBride, runs Blackbird Studios. He's a Beatles freak, has amassed 20,000 Liverpool LPs over the years - and 1,400 microphones. He says sentences like “You can't use today's plastic microphones”, “Good is the enemy of great” and “If I had just one day to live, I would record a band”.
Then he plays us his best song of all time. It's "A Day in the Life" from the Beatles. He smiles, looks animated, as if he were breathing the music in and out. Music obsessed like him shape the Nashville spirit, a mixture of great dedication and great business acumen.
Attractions off Broadway
There is little for tourists to see in Music Row, a kind of country industrial area where many record companies are based. Many functional buildings determine the picture. Broadway with its honky tonks, on the other hand, is the main country street. Every day, from noon until well after midnight, there is live music in the pubs. The bands only play for tips and a chance to be spotted. Apart from that, music enthusiasts will find many other attractions. A selection:
George Jones Museum: In Germany, George Jones, who died three years ago, is as little known as baseball. In the US, on the other hand, he was a superstar. He had two nicknames: "The Possum" (opossum) because of the shape of his nose and "No Show Jones" because he got drunk for years to the point of unconsciousness, so that concerts were canceled. Despite everything: Frank Sinatra called him the “second best singer of all time” - after himself. Some say that because of his subtle voice he is even the best. Jones had 150 hits, the most famous being "He Stopped Loving Her Today". The museum displays its football collection, rifles and garish stage outfits. And, of course, you can buy plush possums in the shop.
Opryland: The Grand Ole Opry is the world's oldest radio show, first broadcast in 1925. It used to be broadcast from a former church. In 1974 the move to the Opry House followed, a 4400-seat concert hall on the green field. A 2881-room hotel and a shopping mall are connected. The complex is called Opryland. The coaches come from all over the country. There you can experience a kind of country “Musikantenstadl”.
Bluebird Cafe: The tiny music club at Hillsboro Pike is one of the main locations in the TV series "Nashville". But he was already famous before that. The city's songwriters test their songs there on open mic evenings or at “In a Round” concerts, or they hope to get a record deal. It worked for Taylor Swift. The then 15-year-old was discovered in the Bluebird in 2002. The café only has 90 seats. Nothing works without a reservation.
Third Man Records: Jack White is a vinyl enthusiast and a keeper of tradition. The 40-year-old has become known as the singer and guitarist of the White Stripes. He is also very successful as a solo artist with his backward-looking mix of blues rock and punk. He lives his retro tick with his own label, recording studio and shop - Third Man Records on 7th Avenue South. The Nashville boom can also be seen there: while his record store was only the size of a bedroom three years ago, it now fits four double beds.
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