The ripples of a trip somewhere new can extend many months and even years from the actual visit to a new city or destination. Sometimes it’s meeting new people and othertimes it’s a connection to another event and that’s exactly what happened when I went to Nashville earlier this year. I had been to Nashville as a child with my parents and we saw Tammy Wynette and George Jones perform at the Grand Ole Opry, so it was an amazing experience to return as an adult who so appreciated how country music was such a big part of her life with her family.
One of my favorite events we did during my trip in April was a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which included seeing Family Traditions: The Hank Williams Legacy, a special exhibit that examined the personal lives and professional lives and musical contributions of Hank Williams and Hank Williams, Jr.
At a luncheon following a tour of the Museum, I met a fellow graduate from the University of Missouri School of Journalism who works there and we talked and have continued to email. She also invited me to the amazing guitar pull event at Club Nokia a few weeks ago on September 23, a fundraiser called All for the Hall Los Angeles to benefit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, Lionel Richie and Taylor Swift. It was such an incredible night seeing those musicians picking and singing new songs and old…and Taylor Swift impressed me much more than what I had seen at some of her appearances at the big awards show. She shared how she wrote some of her hit songs, and it’s truly rare for someone as young as she is to be able to describe the state-of-mind of being 15, or liking a guy her parent’s don’t and writing hit songs about the experience. In her acoustic versions of her latest single Mine and her big hit Love Story she showed why she’s such a star and Kristofferson and Richie watched clearly enjoying this young songwriter who is so articulate in her songs. Swift also shared a new song she wrote about her mother and it was heartfelt and brought a few tears…as it’s clear that she understands how fast time goes and how growing up never really changes the pull or impact of a mother’s love.
Being a fan of Kris Kristofferson, meeting him was a pleasure but to hear him sing his classic songs like “Help Me Make It Through the Night” and Me and “Bobby McGee. At first I wasn’t sure how Lionel Richie would fit in but he was the only artist on the piano and he sang some of his hits, “Three Times a Lady,” “Hello,” and “Stuck on You” and it ended up being a wonderful addition to the group. My mother is a huge fan of Emmylou Harris and I enjoyed her contributions, too, and I spoke to her friend, Mary Kay, who was in the audience and she said that she was already in production on the next season of Big Love . Gill was a great “host” and sang a song he wrote for his wife, singer/songwriter Amy Grant.
While in Nashville, I also attended the 41st Annual Nashville Film Festival, where I saw the premiere of Nowhere Boy, a film about Lennon’s pre-Beatle days in Liverpool, directed by Sam Taylor and starring Aaron Johnson. Given all of the activities surrounding Lennon’s 70th birthday this coming Saturday, there will be a Los Angeles premiere of the film. I liked it but others who saw it with me that night thought the actor, who was phenomenally charismatic, was too old to play the part. But it was an insightful look into the artist and in a bookend, Lennon’s life in New York will be featured in a two-hour documentary airing on PBS’ American Masters series on November 22, and the Grammy Museum will host an advance screening on Monday. We saw a peek of it at the TCA press tour in July/August featuring his wife, Yoko Ono. Here’s a link about that appearance written by my friend and fellow writer Amy Dawes.
I can’t wait to return to Nashville and right now the special exhibit at the Country Museum is Tammy Wynette: First Lady of Country Music. As I grew up listening to my mother sing songs by Wynette, it would be a wonderful opportunity to return to see the exhibit with my mother.