I’ll just say it. I am not a huge fan of country music. Oh sure, I do enjoy a cold beer on a Friday night, and I am sure that none of you are woman enough to take my man, but as a genre, country music, for me, lies just above rap and below pop. I am an embarrassingly geeky Broadway aficionado, with a bit of classic and pop rock thrown in for variety. I am also a fan of some classical music; passionate composers like Beethoven, Vivaldi and Mozart’s more pissed off works, but I abhor precision composers like Bach … too much like my nemesis, mathematics.
So perhaps I am one of the few who go to Music City for reasons other than music. I confess I did not even visit the apparently mandatory Grand Ole Opry (old and new) nor the Country Music Hall of Fame (although I did admire its architecture, as it looks like a piano keyboard).
My main reason for the trip, it was a city I had never visited. Okay, to be totally honest, the true impetus for visiting was to purchase a few cases of my favorite beer, Yuengling, which is unavailable in Missouri. Tennessee is the closest option, and I have been to Memphis more than a few times.
Thanks to tripadvisor and a quickly purchased guidebook, I plotted and planned our forty-eight-hour swoop into Nashville, jam-packed with history, food and fun.
The first night we actually did dip our toes into the musical world. We visited the famous Lower Broadway area, filled with clashing, cascading music emanating from every honky-tonk window and door. It reminded me of Bourbon Street in New Orleans, except much cleaner and less smelly. Also, unlike the Big Easy, the drinking laws are strictly enforced, to a rather ridiculous level. Obviously the rule is that everyone is carded, but some logic should be employed. I mean, yes I am gorgeous and extremely youthful, but I am also fifty-five … To be honest, we spent most of our time in this area up on a rooftop bar. Hubs was intrigued watching a crew build a set for the upcoming County Music Association awards show, I was busy doing my favorite activity, people watching with a bit of eavesdropping added for flavor.
Saturday morning was spent on a walking tour. Now this made my history-nerd heart sing. Random things I learned:
- Nashville used to be called Fort Nashborough. The name was changed after the Revolutionary War to sound less English and more French.
- There are three presidents from Tennessee, Andrew Jackson (I knew that!), James Polk (didn’t know that) and Andrew Johnson (who is that?). This also lead to many hours of entertainment during downtime, guessing how many presidents from random states, then googling the answer. It also made me wonder why we don’t have a song to teach children the line of presidents, like Great Britain does for their monarchs. We have so few in comparison, it should be a no-brainer.
- Tennessee was the thirty-sixth state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment, the last state vote needed to pass into law women’s right to vote. It passed by one vote, when twenty-four-year-old Harry Burns listened to his mother and changed his nay to yea.
Saturday afternoon was spent visiting a whiskey distillery. Although not a big fan, it was extremely interesting to learn about the history (of course) and the process of making Tennessee bourbon. Added bonus, the tasting at the end allowed me to once again employ my patent-pending “yuck face,” also known as “port face” or “dessert wine face,” depending on the circumstances.
Sunday was spent visiting Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s home situated just outside of Nashville. It was so impressive, with an informative visitors’ center, an audio tour of the grounds providing as much or as little information as you desire, and his house itself filled with almost all original furnishings. But having visited so many historical homes over the years, I wonder why every site feels compelled to place fake plastic fruit and other foodstuffs in the kitchen? Also, how can I get into this obviously lucrative business?
Conclusions: Nashville barbecue does not hold up in comparison to St. Louis or Memphis. Good pecan pie was scarcer than hen’s teeth. Finally, adventures with my favorite travel buddy are always exciting, fun-filled and exhausting, and I believe I’m going to love him forever. Amen.