Andy Mossack is a full time travelwriter and broadcaster and his stories can be read in national press, regional press, magazines and websites.
He is the founder of the travel site www.tripreporter.co.uk and he is the Travel Guru on BBC Radio's Late Show where he presents 'Where in the World is Andy.'
His professional website is www.andymossack.co.uk
Or you can visit his work at www.tripreporter.co.uk
I'm sitting at a grand old Steinway in RCA's Studio B on
Music Row. As it happens, it's the very piano Elvis tinkered on when he was
working out arrangements for his band.Debbie,
something of a Nashville treasure in her own right, is telling me a true story
about one of his sessions. “It was late, and everyone was getting tired but
Elvis wanted to do one more song. He got the lights turned right down low, went
up to the mike, closed his eyes and started singing.”As she’s telling me this, she turns those
same lights down, presses a button and Elvis sounds like he’s right next to me
singing Lonesome Tonight.
This is one of those goose bump moments.
They say there’s music in the very walls of RCA studio B,
which I wouldn’t doubt for a minute when you consider over 1,000 number one
hits were recorded right here. Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Jim Reeves The Everly
Brothers and Elvis head up a very impressive list of artists. Anyone with the
slightest hint of music in their veins will feel a stirring of emotion here,
but this is what Nashville does to you.Everywhere you go and everyone you meet has a story to tell. Session
legend Joe Chambers for example, soon to open The Musicians Hall of Fame, his own
museum dedicated to the many talented session players who delivered the music
behind the hits, has a belly full of them. "Let's face it " he says
"if you found out Jimi Hendrix never played on his hits, you'll sure want
to know who did!" Joe's seemingly endless supply of amazing tales has me
mesmerised over our lunch together and then, as we part, he throws out another;
"That corner of Wedgewood and 8th right by the lights? Roy Orbison lived in
a small apartment there and wrote Pretty Woman when he looked out the window
and saw a girl walking past."
And then with a wave he's gone.
I come for a peek at another new museum soon to open. Johnny
Cash is naturally a legend in Nashville, but surprisingly, there's been no
official museum since Johnny and June's home in Hendersonville, The House of
Cash, closed back in 1999. I'm amazed and delighted to find his brother Tommy
waiting to show me around. Due to open November 2012, this new museum in a
vintage red brick building in downtown will contain many artefacts donated by
the Cash family members and through the efforts of legendary memorabilia
collector Bill Miller. Just the facade and gift shop is finished but it doesn't
take a lot of imagination to see how this 18,000 square foot of space will be used.
As we walk around, Tommy tells me how as Johnny's younger brother, he got to
hang out with musical legends;"Elvis,
Carl Perkins, Charlie Rich, they were all friends with Johnny and we all used
to go out together. Elvis gave me a red and black jacket which I cherished, but
lost it after I got drafted."
Not far from here, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
beckons.40,000 square feet chronicling everything from the roots of country to
today's cross over stars. It's latest exhibit is exploring the Bakersfield
Sound; where artists such as Merle Haggard and Buck Owens pioneered a honky
tonk Californian twist on the more traditional Nashville music. I even have
time to wander round a small exhibit on Patsy Kline, and listen to a recording
of just her singing with everything else stripped out. Pure and magical.
No trip to Nashville would be complete without a night at
the Grand Ole Opry, the world's longest running radio show. Touring around
backstage I bump into Billy Ray Cyrus arriving for his headline spot; proof the
Opry is still a show that pulls in the big guns. Then again, attending the Country Music Awards and watching Bonnie Raitt, John Hiatt, Emmylou Harris and Richard Thompson wasn't too shabby either.
Spending time in Nashville has been a fascinating journey
through musical history. It's a place that's constantly reinventing itself yet
still fiercely celebrates its glorious heritage. For me though, it was back to
Elvis' old piano for another quick tinkle.