If anything is “American,” it is the rich range of music genres that come out of the mixing of culture groups and regions. I once attended an international meeting in Scotland where we gathered the last evening for a Ceilidh with dancing and music. Each national delegation was asked to provide some music from their home country and the American group discussed their options for several days in anticipation. In the end we had someone do a blues number, we sang a gospel song, and then ended with, “You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me, Lucille.” When other delegations presented their musical gifts to us, I have to say, I was struck by the lack of variety within the individual offerings. What was lacking to my American ears was either a beat or a twang.
If any city is at the center of this musical mix, it is Nashville. It is a music recording and production center, the headquarters of the Gibson guitar company, and of course, the home of the Grand Ole Opry. If you want to make it as a song writer, you go to Nashville. But more than just a music-mixing center, Nashville sits at a geographic crossroads. The Bible Belt of the Deep South is to the south and east of Nashville. The cowboy country of the Great Plains lies to the west. Appalachian storytelling culture is to the East and the heartland of the Midwest is to the north. This leads to interesting cultural elements—Nashville is the home to Bible and hymnal publishing. Cowboy hats and boots are fashion elements (not real work clothes). Beer is the drink of choice. And it is the city where people come from everywhere to write the stories of their rising fame—often in musical form.
The Nashville Look
Hoping for Fame: Live Music
Drinking Beer While Not Driving
Popular Culture of Nashville: Music, Beer, and Boots
NASHTRASH Tours: Behind the scenes
Off the main street is the heart of the music industry in nondescript buildings along Music Row
Pip, with NASHTRASH tours is one of those who has been able to create a life in the music industry in Nashville, and share his experiences with visitors.