Truth be told, I have not focused much of my travel on the US, but every time I get to a new city or state, I am reminded how very diverse this country is and how much I can still learn– even without a new stamp in my passport.
My friends and I planned a trip to Nashville on a whim. We found cheap flights, most of us had not been, and all of us have a serious case of the travel bug. So why not?
Here’s what we learned:
- People are friendly – truly friendly, without any logical agenda! Not to play into stereotypes here, but we all come from New England where strangers don’t generally ask about your family, your goals, and your fears while you stand in line at the grocery store! That’s not to say there aren’t friendly people up here, but boundaries are certainly… different. I have to say, I found peoples’ ability to strike up conversations downright impressive – though, at first, also a bit frightening. I found myself searching for “an angle” for the first few minutes of every conversation before realizing that just having company was an angle enough for most people!
- If you want to be famous, move to Nashville. Or maybe, don’t. Ok, ok, hear me out. Every person in Nashville is brilliantly talented! Every bar is hosting live musicians who are phenomenal artists and performers. if you appreciate good music – of any genre – you will love it in Nashville. Performers take requests and figure songs out right in front of their live audiences! So cool. So, I guess if you are looking to perform among the greatest musicians in America, great! – grab your guitar and go into literally any bar. But if you’re looking to stand out, maybe find another city, because Nashville’s streets are already glowing with all the light from the stars performing there!
- Country music has long been studded with liberal voices, just as Nashville has been influenced by many political stances. I had always associated country music – and Tennessee- with conservative, right-wing politics. I was surprised to learn (while wandering around the Country Music Hall of Fame for nearly 3 hours!) that many country artists have been very outspoken in their political opinions, which are remarkably varied. My personal favorite was Loretta Lynn who, in 1972, recorded a song ‘The Pill,’ in which she sang:
All these years I’ve stayed at home while you had all your fun. And every year that’s gone by, another baby’s come. There’s a gonna be some changes made right here on nursery hill. You’ve set this chicken your last time ’cause now I’ve got the pill.
Nashville’s identity, similarly, maintains its rural and conservative roots, but, as it has grown to become a world-renown music hub, has also attracted performers of all backgrounds and beliefs throughout its history whose influence can also be seen in the sights and sounds of the city. Bob Dylan, for example, spent a lot of time in Nashville, working alongside Johnny Cash on his album Blonde on Blonde. The history and context of country music – and how intertwined it is with the city of Nashville itself – was fascinating!
- Pedal Taverns are the best form of transportation. That’s all. They’re amazing. I don’t care how “touristy” it seems, definitely do it when you’re in Nashville! It’s an amazing way to see the city as it should be seen: at a leisurely pace, surrounded by friends, a drink in hand, and set to music! (Info HERE. You’re welcome.)
- Nashville has figured out that it’s cool, and it’s totally owning it! Nashville is cool y’all. It knows it’s cool and it’s not going to pretend it doesn’t! It’s not effortless, it’s very, very intentional, without forcing it on you. The music may draw you in, but the fusion foods, the artsy boutiques and dynamic markets, and the Instagram-able painted walls in every neighborhood will definitely convince you of its cool-ness. Nashville has made it clear it can adapt to any audience, and its reputation as one of the best cities for music and culture is not going anywhere!