Nashville : On The Record

“It show is pretty weather ahht they’re,” says Jodi at the front desk. And it is. After a day of rain and biting winds, Nashville looks good in the sunshine. Broadway is still teeming with tourists, and plenty are heading for a Sunday morning snack.

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One scoop of ice cream seems a bit mean, so I opt for two. What arrives is enough strawberry and butterscotch to power a small child for the whole of his life. But if your sweet tooth hasn’t quite been satisfied (if you have any teeth left by this point), there’s always the home made candy store just up the street. Whenever I’ve seen those terrible, imported commercials for Werther’s Originals, I’ve always thought they invented that dreamy, slightly creepy looking shop. But it actually exists.

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I’m tempted to ask if they have a Cock On A Stick. Since this blog appears to be gaining significant worldwide traffic, I should explain that this is a sweet lollipop shaped like a chicken’s head, and usually only available at the Nottingham Goose Fair. In reality, anyone with a rock/candy mix could make them. Phew. That should stop me being arrested…

In the 1950s, a DJ on WSM Radio made an off the cuff remark, which became the slogan for Nashville the world over. He coined the phrase “Music City USA” and it remains to this day. Although the Country Music Hall of Fame honours one particular genre, just about everything was recorded here : jazz, gospel, blues, classical and – notably – rock and roll.

20140330-160053.jpgAway from downtown is Music Row. It might otherwise be just another business district of any city. But here the big deals are made. Major record labels rub shoulders with local artists who’ve set up their own companies. And the most famous of all is RCA Studio B.

It was also known as the RCA Victor studio, and it’s here where Elvis Presley recorded more than 250 songs. Ron, our immensely knowledgable guide, tells the whole story in a whirlwind tour barely lasting half an hour. You can only visit this place on a joint ticket from the Hall of Fame – but to stand on the spot where so much history was made is a must for any music fan.

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When I visited the States in 2011, I took the tour of Sun Studio in Memphis, and together with Graceland, they naturally make their own claim for Elvis. But he only cut half a dozen songs there; most of his glory days recording wise were here in Nashville. Naturally, as he became rich and famous, he wanted to travel in style. Back at the Country Music Hall of Fame is his “golden car” – featuring a paint job made of crushed diamonds.

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You want fries with that cheeseburger?

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