Yeah, there's thirteen hundred and fifty-two
Guitar cases in Nashville
And any one that unpacks his guitar could play
Twice as better than I will
—Lovin Spoonful, "Nashville Cats"
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Live country music spilled out of the restaurant/bar on our right as Ron and I walked by. It was the kind of thing we would have expected from our Nashville experience, except that we hadn't even left the airport yet. We peered inside to confirm that the music wasn't recorded. Sure enough, there was a man at the back of the establishment singing and playing guitar.
As soon as we got past the restaurant, Ron turned to me. "Did you notice that?"
"The guy singing. He wasn't all that good."
I thought about it. "He wasn't bad. I mean, nothing spectacular, but not awful. He was ... fine."
"Yeah. I just thought he'd be a little bit better."
Of course, neither of us had harbored any expectations of this particular unnamed individual. But I knew what Ron meant. Weren't all the Nashville musicians supposed to be on a higher plane? Sure, anybody could move here and try to launch a music career—nothing stopping you—but with all the talent around, you wouldn't have a chance of getting in front of people unless you were something special. Even if you were just playing in an airport bar.
Except, maybe not.
Later that night, we went to Electric Kite Studio to lay down some just-in-case-we-need-them vocal scratch recordings, and I related the story to Benjamin Stager, our recording engineer for this trip. Ben wasn't surprised. He explained that yeah, there were a lot of great musicians in Nashville, but there were also a lot of people who were willing to pay to play.
Ron nodded knowingly. He liked to tell stories about the LA scene, where musicians had to buy tickets to their own shows, then try as best they could to sell them.
I didn't know that was a thing here too.
The idea of recording in Nashville had seemed somewhat intimidating before. I felt like I wasn't fit to breathe the same air as the Nashville players. Now? I might not be the best of the best, but I'm as good as any Nashville wannabe.
Let the games begin.