With Nashville only an hour or so away, there’s just one more stop before getting back to Music City.
I’ve heard about this place for years so to stop and spend some time at the crash site of Patsy Cline is a must. It seems strange that the location of a tragic end of life has become a visitor attraction, but I can’t help going to see for myself.
The wooded spot is surrounded by a few small homes and house trailers scattered up and down the road. From a small dirt parking area, a little trail leading into the woods is all there is to see. The rain had stopped just long enough for the air to become so humid that a walk in the woods for most, including myself, could be a dismal end to the day. I followed the trail winding down to the bottom of the hollow. I was soaked with sweat and not even sure if the climb back up the trail was going to be possible but after a few more steps I was at the site. At the very bottom of the hollow is a large rock that stands as a monument to the spot where on March 5, 1963 four lives were lost. What really surprised me was how incredibly peaceful it was. The air seemed thinner and a cool breeze was blowing. I could hear the sounds of birds in the trees. The evidence of many other visitors before me was placed in a very respectful manner. Forty-nine years ago this very spot was a scene of tragedy but today it has such a feeling of serenity. I made my way back up the trail and back into the reality of the day, but with a much more peaceful feeling.
As I get closer to Nashville my internal insecurities begin to rumble. For me to talk about the city that for the most part helps pay the bills, the city where your friends live along with a few that may not be your friends, is difficult. I do much better in a environment were I am an unknown hiding in the shadows; only there for a moment, then off to the next shadow to hide. But home, how do you talk about home without the fear of saying the wrong thing? What if you leave someone out, what if, what if, runs through my head… the closer to Nashville I get.
Moving from the suburbs of Chicago to Nashville was the most impulsive decision I’ve ever made. In my mind it was a move that had to happen. There was such a personal draw to this town that at the time there was not much that could have stopped me from pulling up stakes and throwing myself into the unknown.
There is something very exciting about putting yourself into somewhere new; a place where behind every door is a brand new moment, a new face and a new smell. It’s like a first kiss, you never really remember the one that comes after the first, but you will always remember the first.
I remember my first time on lower Broadway with its’ sounds of country music pouring out in the streets; from morning until, well, morning again. I remember the first time I stepped into the Ryman. I walked right down to the stage and laid my hand on the hardwood planking just to see if I could feel the energy of Johnny Cash kicking out the lights. I remember an ice-cold beer and a slice of toaster oven pizza at the Station Inn while listening to some of the best bluegrass music the world has to offer. I remember my first Fan Fair and the first writers’ round at the Bluebird Cafe. Yes, I admit I got shushed for whispering too loudly in my naïve enthusiasm. My first Grand Old Opry was from backstage and my first recording session was at Omni Studios. I’ve made so many friends and lost only a few. I fell in love once in this town and I will never forget letting it slip away. I survived the 500-year flood. I remember the first time I had real fried chicken and my first biscuit at the Loveless Cafe.
There is something about this town, an energy that pulls people in from all directions, all distances, all for one reason: creativity. Music, painting, writing, and dance: … you name it, it’s all here. Nashville is a city where the faces change often but there’s always a new fresh energy. Legends have been made here, legends die here, and you never know if that person behind the counter at the Frothy Monkey might be the next one to kick out the lights.
Nashville has been good to me, so very good. I can’t even imagine living anywhere else. I will be always moving down the road in search of that new moment but, at the end of the day, I will always wander back home.