In his 1996 book on the Southernization of America entitled Dixie Rising: How the South is Shaping American Values, Politics, and Culture, former New York Times Atlanta bureau-chief Peter Applebome compares Charlotte, North Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee. Much of Applebome’s thesis was turned on its head with the election of 2008. But one thing he said has always stuck with me and it came back today as I was traveling to New Orleans.
In comparing the two cities he notes that Nashville is a lot like Charlotte – except that its major industry is music and not banking. And that difference makes all the difference in the world.
I had a layover today in the Nashville airport. You have to love a city where the airport has live music (in at least two places, including the food court) AND a photo exhibit by none other than Marty Stuart. Heck, the musicians could have been employees of the Burger King. The Lovin’ Spoonful’s Nashville Cats immediately jumped to mind:
Well, there’s thirteen hundred and fifty-two guitar pickers in Nashville…And anyone who unpacks his guitar could play twice as better than I will.
The Stuart photos are quite remarkable (see photo above and click on the Stuart link to see a book of his work). There’s a great Flatt & Scruggs portrait from 1969, their last year together. BB King and Little Richard represent other strains of music that go together to make country. Stuart has funny portraits, strange portraits (Bill Monroe), and haunting portraits (Johnny Cash taken just four days before he died). All in all, a nice small and surprising exhibition.
I never did find the ATM in the airport, but I didn’t have any trouble finding the music.
More to come…