"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

12.27.2005

carve the turkey, turn the ballgame on

Report from the holidays:

1. The current count on my friends and family for 2006: 3 weddings, 9 babies.

2. My sister sat next to Ted Nugent at the Thai place in Waco a couple of weeks ago. Apparently being a gun nut doesn't preclude you from appreciating diverse cuisine.

3. There is this super-cool newish record shop on 8th South in Nashville, Grimey's. FINALLY. For years and years, the only purchasing options in Music City USA were the chains. The great thing about Grimey's is that they have tons of used discs as well as the usual indie-record shop fare. Being all of 4 blocks from the Row, most of this used music consists of cast-off advance copies of all kinds of music. The Industry being what it is, those Nashvegas types cast off a lot of really great music. I found a whole mess of great stuff, including Okkervil River's 2003 Down the River of Golden Dreams, and a cd by songwriter extraordinaire Jimmy Webb, Ten Easy Pieces, that I've been wanting forever. Webb wrote everything (and a great book on the craft of songwriting) and it is so neat to hear hits like "Highwayman," "Wichita Lineman," and "If These Walls Could Speak" in his voice. It was sooooo tempting to buy advance copies of just about every Steve Earle album for the collection, but self-restraint prevailed. I'm trying to downsize before the Congo and we do not need copies of albums we already own.

4. The Country Music Hall of Fame is running a couple of fantastic exhibits, one on George Jones and the other on the history of soul music in Nashville. Daddy and I went on Christmas Eve to check out the whole museum (which I hadn't done since they moved into their spiffy new digs a few years back). It's great. Just perfect. They've done a great job of presenting memorabilia in such a way that it doesn't overwhelm the music. You can step into about eight listening booths to hear songs you haven't heard in forever (which made us want to two-step in the middle of the museum). The focus is on the early performers and classic songwriters who began the country, western, bluegress, and rockabilly styles, along with people whose legacies have really endured. (You don't see Faith Hill or any other garbage until the very last exhibit.) Much to my surprise, there were also cases dedicated to people like Gram Parsons and other pioneers of what we now call Americana/roots music, to Southern rock like the Allman Brothers, and even to some alt.country types - Gillian Welch is featured in the next-to-last exhibit, albeit alongside Brooks and Dunn.

What's really amazing is what you get to see -- everything from Hank Williams' boots to the actual first draft of Don Williams' "Good Old Boys Like Me." The special exhibits are also good - someone gave George Jones a pistol with the notes to "She Stopped Loving Him Today" inlaid in the handle. Kinda makes you rethink the meaning, huh? Since it was Christmas Eve, we also were lucky enough to catch part of the continuous screening of Johnny Cash Christmas on the Road, a 1984 special with Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings. Hearing Willie Nelson sing "Pretty Paper" live on the show and then do a duet of "I Still Miss Someone" with Cash was the perfect way to end the visit.

Night Train to Nashville closes December 31. The George Jones exhibit is there through May.

5. When I got into the car on Christmas Day to go get the tickets for our family movie, here's what came on the radio. In this order. 1) George Strait, "There's a New Kid in Town" 2) Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, "Christmas to Remember." Sometimes I love Nashville.

More holiday fun soon, including our incredibly random evening/brushes with celebrity at the Opryland Hotel.

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