After breakfast on Day 10 of our holiday we boarded the coach for a tour of Nashville. Nashville was originally called Nashboro when the British settled there, it was renamed Nashville by the French.
Our first stop was the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park which was built 20 years ago for Nashville's 200th birthday to complement the Tennessee State Capitol Building, which is the oldest in the country. The land where the park is built was originally sites of industrial premises.
Within the park are 95 granite columns or Carillons in the Court of 3 Stars. The Court of 3 Stars is a focal point of the park and the site of a 95-bell carillon representing Tennessee's musical heritage. The 95 bells represent the citizens of Tennessee's 95 counties. A 96th bell, known as the answer bell, is located on the grounds of the State Capitol and rings in answer to the 95 bells, symbolizing government answering to the people. The carillons are some of the largest in the world. they play Tennessee themed songs at the top of the hour, every hour.
The park also houses the WW2 Memorial Park with it's huge pillars of black granite, photo etched with images from the battles of WW2. There are also short descriptions below each photo that describe the images and their importance to Tennessee history.
These granite pillars surround a very impressive 18,000lb black granite globe that floats and rotates on an
1/8-inch bed of water.
The globe is etched with markings of how a globe would have looked during WW2. You can actually rotate the globe quite easily, it's amazing.
We passed the Centennial Park, which was built for Nashville's 100th birthday, and saw the magnificent Parthenon
which was originally built for Tennessee's 1897 Centennial Exposition.
The next leg of the city tour took us to Millionnaire's Row/Franklin Road, known as the 'old money part of town', where people such as Dolly Parton, The Jacksons, The Judds, Tex Ritter, Minnie Pearl, Tanya Tucker, Martina MacBride, the owner of Crispy Creme Donut's live(d).
This is the house orginally owned by Hank and Audrey Williams which Tammy Wynette later bought and where she died.
Leaving the fabulous houses of the famous behind. we made our way to 'Music Row' an area just to the southwest of Downtown Nashville, which is home to hundreds of businesses related to the music industry, passing the controversial Musica Statue on the way.
The statue is a bronze sculpture by Alan LeQuire, made up of nine nude figures, male and female, in the centre of a roundabout, it was built as part of an urban renewal project for the Music Row neighbourhood. It is controversial due to its depiction of nudity, although according to LeQuire the work is entirely tasteful and not at all sexualised. However the figures are quite often dressed; (in this instance in yellow t-shirts) on St. Patrick's Day 2010 a local music group, the Willis Clan, clothed the statues in oversized Celtic kilts and blouses they had made for the event!
We also got a great view of what is locally known as The Batman Building,
home to AT&T (American Telegraph Company). The smaller building to the left of the batman building is locally referred to as R2D2.
Driving round 'Music Row' we saw Curb Records, ASCAP, Songwriters House - where writers can take a nap, Vibe Studio, SESAC, Heart Chart Music, Major Bob Music, Idlehour - where Willie Nelson recorded, 16 Ton Studio, Crystal Gale's building, before reaching our destination
the famous RCA Victor Studio B, where we got off the coach, pausing for photoshoot,
before entering the iconic building where Elvis recorded for 13 years.
Elvis Hits recorded at Studio B
Other famous people who have recorded at Studio B are Skeeter Davis who recorded her famous hit 'End Of The World', which was written by Sylvia Dee (Josephine De Sylvia). Most people think the song is about splitting up with a boyfriend but she actually wrote it when she was thirteen about her father who had just had died. Dolly Parton recorded 'I Will Always Love You' at Studio B, she wrote the song about her split with Porter Wagner. Roy Orbison recorded 'Only The Lonely' there too.
We were taken into the actual recording studio where all these famous people had recorded their hits and were surprised at just how small it is.
Our group in the recording studio
We even got to sit at the very piano Elvis used to tinkle on.
Our guide told us that Elvis used to record at the studio on Sundays, arriving at 10 p.m. and working right through the night finishing at 5 a.m. the following morning. Apparently he liked to set the mood in the studio by having things like a Christmas Tree when he was recording Christmas albums. As we sat there the guide told us one time Elvis had, during a recording session, asked that the lights be turned off, the guide then turned the lights off in the studio to demonstrate and we then heard Elvis singing 'Are You Lonesome Tonight'. It was like Elvis was in the room, a very moving moment and quite eerie to know we were listening to the actual recording of such an iconic song in the very place it was recorded. If you ever get the chance do visit Studio B and do the tour, it's absolutely fascinating.
The next stop on our itinerary was The Country Music Hall of Fame, where we saw fabulous exhibits such as Tammy Wynette's many costumes, contents of her wardrobe and jewellery and clothes and other items belonging to various country stars, past and present (see slide show below, click on View All Images if you want a closer look).
The Gold Record Wall is magnificent
and the Rotunda, a special room designed to recognise Hall of Fame members, is amazing,
Will The Circle Be Unbroken
all the big stars are there on the wall
Elvis Presley and Minnie Pearl
The first members of the Hall Of Fame were Jimmie Rodgers, Fred Rose and Hank Williams, who were inducted in 1961 and the most recent are Bobby Braddock, Reba McEntire and Jean Shepard in 2011. Did you know that Roy Rogers is the only person inducted two times into the Hall of Fame. The first was with the Original Sons of the Pioneers and the second was as a solo artist. The members plaques are placed randomly around the room because everyone recognised here is an equal. The room is round to ensure that every Hall of Fame member has a place of equal importance.
After seeing all there was to see we made our way down to the snack bar for a quick sandwich and drink before we had to meet the coach to take us back to the hotel where we got ready to go to the Loveless Cafe for our evening meal. Nationally acclaimed and frequented by celebrities, world travellers and local appetites alike the Loveless was originally known as the Harpeth Valley Tea Room. The Loveless Motel and Cafe first started serving its famous fried chicken and biscuits in 1951 when the property was purchased by Lon and Annie Loveless. They set up picnic tables in the front yard and sold chicken from the front door to travellers driving up and down US Highway 100. Lon Loveless ran the motel and handled the hams while hungering crowds were drawn to Annie's homemade preserves and from-scratch biscuits - one of few secret recipes that has remained unchanged to this day. Here's what we enjoyed
Southern Fried Chicken
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Chocolate Pecan Pie
Key Lime Pie
Phew I'm stuffed just remembering what we ate and it was absolutely DEELISH! Stuffed to bursting we headed back to Broadway where we finished off the evening with a couple of drinks in Layla's Bluegrass Bar, enjoying the fabulous music Nashville has to offer one last time before going back to our hotel to get a good night's sleep, as we had to be up early the following morning for the journey back to Atlanta, visiting Lynchburg and Chattanooga on the way. Join me for Dixieland Part 10 to find out what we saw on the last leg of our journey.
Read Dixieland Part 1 here
Read Dixieland Part 2 here
Read Dixieland Part 3 here
Read Dixieland Part 4 here
Read Dixieland Part 5 here
Read Dixieland Part 6 here
Read Dixieland Part 7 here
Read Dixieland Part 8 here