The absolute centre of country music is the Ole Opry, which used to be in Nashville and has now moved to just outside of the city. We felt it would be remiss to not visit, so after visiting the Belle Meade Plantation (see my last post) we drove to the Inn at the Opry. Our room was a motel-style entrance, with an exterior door which actually opened into their convention space (a huge hall with swimming pools and conference spaces and a restaurant, all open-plan under the same roof). It was a little odd, as we had no outside window.
We had an early dinner, then caught the shuttle bus to The Ole Opry. The bus went via a few hotels, picking up excited middle-aged people on the way. The Opry was clearly a ‘thing’. We were met at the drop-off place by a man with a buggy for people who couldn’t walk, and there were giant guitars for photos, and a line of people waiting to go through security. Loud speakers were telling people to leave their guns and knives in their cars (not quite England then).
The Grand Ole Opry is actually a huge auditorium with padded pews. This would be comfortable unless someone big shares your pew, as the seats are numbered but not segregated, so you all have to squash together. Everyone was very excited, and I wondered what exactly we had come to—I am not really a fan of country music. There were lots of cowboy boots on feet, and chequered shirts, and friendly chatter.
The compere appeared on stage, telling jokes and encouraging the audience to shout and clap. The audience didn’t need much encouragement. All the veterans were asked to stand, and we clapped them (being a veteran is a thing in the U.S.) It was very bright, overly loud, with smells of popcorn and Tide washing powder and a soup of perfume and deodorant drifting past us. Lots of “Y’all” and “Yee-Ha!” It was so not my kind of place.
The curtain lifted, and there on stage were four old men with guitars and cowboy hats. They must have been nearly 90 years old. I gave Husband a hard stare, but he was avoiding eye-contact. I wondered how long the show would last. And then, the old men started to speak, and they were actually very funny, joking in a depreciating way about their age compared to the young and famous. They played and sang, and it was tuneful and clever and entertaining, and I decided that I did like some country music after all.
One of the acts was Hank William’s grandson, Sam, who was giving his debut performance at the Ole Opry. He’s 22 years old, and I enjoyed his singing immensely.
I have to admit, I don’t entirely ‘get’ the whole glitzy, cowboy, country singing, thing. But the songs seem to encourage wholesome ideals, and some of the music I enjoyed. Sometimes it’s just fun to be with hundreds of enthusiasts, and you catch a little of their excitement. I would say that even if you’re not a fan of country music, if you’re in Nashville, visit The Ole Opry for an evening—you might find that you enjoy it.
Thank you for reading my blog. Our next stop was Atlanta (see previous posts) and then we wanted to see the Carolinas. We discussed where to stay, and decided that after two weeks of hotels, it would be nice to stay somewhere that we could get up late and eat cereal for breakfast, so we booked an Airbnb. Although our children use Airbnb frequently, we’ve never booked one, so we were a little nervous. Especially as the photos on the website didn’t seem to relate to the actual house we would be hiring. . .but that’s for another blog. Why don’t you sign up to follow my blog so you don’t miss it?
Love, Anne x
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