In which I ponder the endangered Nashville species called ‘Music Row’
(originally posted on July 1; reposted July 8)
“The past went that-a-way. When faced with a totally new situation, we tend always to attach ourselves to the objects, to the flavor of the most recent past. We look at the present through a rear view mirror. We march backwards into the future.”
–Marshall McLuhan – The Medium Is The Massage
Here’s a little-known fact about me:
For several hours on weekend afternoons, I’d sit with my guitar in an alcove-like space next to the engine housing in the front of one of those tottering, wheeled behemoths as it lumbered along a serpentine course from Riverfront Park, up Broadway to Music Row and back.
My job was to recount the history of the landmarks along the route, and between the landmarks and history lessons I’d play my guitar, sing songs from the Nashville canon – and try to be heard over the roar of the diesel engine beside me.
I don’t remember much about my repertoire now but I’m pretty sure that somewhere along Music Row I’d sing Alan Jackson’s Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow (Spotify):
I made it up to music row
Lordy, don’t the wheels turn slow..
It must have been quite a sight: a by-then middle-aged Jewish kid from New York singing country songs from a perch alongside a whining diesel.
I’d had to pass an audition and some vetting to earn this lofty position, but the job only payed whatever tips I could wheedle out of the tourists as they got off the trolley. So on the floor in front of me I placed a large jar with a label that read, “Garth Brooks and them play for millions – the rest of us play for tips.”
Little did I know at the time what a prediction that was for the future of the music business.
Needless to say the jar was never very full after a shift… and I didn’t last very long at that particular ‘job.’ I guess my ambitions lay elsewhere… Read More