Hi Nashville – pardon the lapse in communication these past few days. I’ve been back east to see my sister graduate from college and catch up with family and some old friends. Seems a reasonable guess that many of you have been spending your week thus far preparing for your imminent departure to Bonnaroo, so we decided to ask BMI’s Road to Bonnaroo winners By Lightning! to rattle off a Nashville Five – they’ll be in Manchester this weekend along with Wild Cub (check out their 5 here) and Fly Golden Eagle (check out their 5 soon).
By Lightning!’s take? “Theme is our city’s music history,” the band says, ” since we have a collective 70 years or more of playing music in Nashville between the seven of us.”
Listen to their tunes here:
Without further ado: By Lightning!’s Nashville Five/history lesson:
1. RCA Studio B is home of over 1000 top 10 hits and around 10,000 top 40. One of which is Skeeter Davis’s “End of the World” which is the only song in music history to reach number 1 in all 4 Billboard charts in the same week. At least, I think I am right about that. Also, when people think of Elvis, they usually think of Memphis, but most folk don’t realize that most of his catalog was recorded in Nashville at RCA studio B. The list of legends who recorded there is ridiculous: Dolly Parton, Charlie Pride, Roy Orbison, Porter Wagoner, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, and many many more. Anyone who loves music should take a tour of this magical place for sure.
2. Lucy’s Record Shop holds many special memories from my teenage years growing up in Middle Tennessee. I played my first Nashville show there when I was 15 in a band called “hai-ya phonics”. I grew up in Hendersonville, but almost every Friday and Saturday night of my high school years were spent at Lucy’s getting a punk rock education. It was the only all ages venue in town at the time. At least the only one where you could see the likes of: Sunny Day Real-estate, Cat Power, Lambchop, Los Straight Jackets, Man or Astroman, Bikini Kill, and tons of awesome local punk, noise, thrash, and alternative bands at an early age. I experienced many “firsts” at this place, most of which I dare not put in print. Lucy’s Record Shop also offered a great CD selection to dig through, subversive magazines, and band tee shirts to proudly purchase and distribute around Sumner County much to the dismay of me and my friends’ parents. This place shaped who I am as a musician, artist, and person for that matter.
3. Music Row is a big part of how Nashville came to be known as Music City USA. The aforementioned RCA studio B is a part of it as well as many other studios, management companies, artist rep agencies, booking agencies, publishing companies, etc… It may not be as flashy as most tourists are expecting it to be, but this is not Los Angeles. Music Row, like most of Nashville’s music scene, was built on blue collar work ethic and the blood, sweat, and tears of hard working musicians. When the broadcast industry took off and musicians began to tour the states, a lot of them made Nashville home because it was a perfect central location to be a touring hub for the south east. The industry grew so quickly, that instead of building office buildings from the ground up, houses were converted into studios and offices. this all started in the 50’s, and though there are some modern office buildings on parts of the Music Row drive, many of the buildings in use are still old stylish homes from yester-year.
4. I worked at the Country Music Hall of Fame off and on over the years and am very proud to have done so. I was a pamphlet slinger, elevator operator, and RCA studio B tour guide. It was one of the best day jobs a musician could ever hope to land. The first day on the job I was told to just spend the whole day in the museum checking out the exhibits. Most of my young adult years were spent rebelling against country music, especially 80’s country music, but in my early 20’s, when I started working at the Hall of Fame, all of that changed. The more I learned about our musical heritage here in Nashville, the more I fell in love with it and finally accepted my roots. Within a week of working there, I wrote my first country song. Within the first month I had truly become a disciple of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, Lefty Frizzell, Charlie Pride, Merle Haggard, all of the Outlaws, and more. I had already accepted Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson, but it did not take long to discover loads of other artists who still impact me to this day. This place is one of the best music museums in the nation, if not world. Check it out if you have not.
5. I have been an independent artist in Nashville since I was 15 (18 years of my life and counting) and I think many others would agree that Grimey’s and The Slow Bar deserve to be considered a big part of Nashville’s more recent music history. Slow Bar was like Lucy’s Record shop for me, but as an adult, and was part of the first wave of artists moving their homes and creative headquarters to the east side. Grimey’s has been the best record store in town for years and has employed many an independent artist. I still go there to buy albums. Grimey’s still has an associated venue in “The Basement,” and it is amazing, but Slow Bar was where my old band De Novo Dahl played our first real record release show, and it was a magical place for me and all my friends. It is still missed. Thanks for everything Mr. Grimes.