Honky Tonk Highlights

Greetings from Nashville! We have been vacationing here for Fall break, and we’ve packed quite a lot in thus far: a visit to the Nashville Parthenon, a stop over at Jack White’s “Third Man Records,” a visit with my old friend Hayley over chocolate-cayenne ice cream at Jeni’s… It is really too much for one post. I’ve decided to hone in on the highlights from our morning visit to “The Country Music Hall of Fame.”

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9mm with Likeness of Lee Greenwood on the Grip

Here’s a statement I never dreamed I’d type: this is my favorite firearm. The picture doesn’t do this weapon justice, so let me testify that no detail, however minor, was overlooked by the artist that embellished this pistol. Not Greenwood’s chain. Not the plunging neckline of his fly-collar shirt. It’s all there. “God Bless the USA,” indeed. The next time I tearfully sing along to that patriotic hit, I will picture myself “stand[ing] up next to you [to] defend her still today” with this piece. (Kidding aside, I love that song. LOVE it. It really does give me a lump in my throat.)

Hee Haw Exhibit

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There was a dearth of children’s programming on television in the late 70s/early 80s. This was a time in American history during which there were no VCRs, no “Disney Channel,” and kids were suppose to pass the time playing outside like feral dogs.

I developed an affinity for “Hee Haw” as a small child because the show intermittently flashed their mascot, a cartoon mule named Mister H H, on the screen between segments. I was just that desparate for something animated to come on t.v. I grew to enjoy the skits while waiting for the mule’s screen time. (In like fashion, I fell in love with “The Carol Burnett Show” while waiting for the closing credits, which featured an animated Carol mopping the floor).

There is a screen in the “Hee Haw” exhibit that plays clips from the show. I stood in the viewing area and watched the video of Roy Clark and Buck Owens performing “A Pickin’ and a Grinnin’,” a reoccurring bit in which the entertainers strummed guitar, played banjo, and told corny jokes while surrounded by a pack of yokels who clapped along and laughed at the punch lines. My initial reaction to my first sight of this show in 30+ years is that it is horribly unsophisticated and not very funny. Then I thought about “Jersey Shore,” “Honey Boo Boo” and some of the other garbage that runs on T.V., and suddenly Clark and Owens seem like a couple of Juilliard-trained performers.

The Pontiac Trans Am from “Smokey and the Bandit”

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There are, among the gentlemen of Generation X, two kinds of guys: those whose who will tell you their dream car is still that black Trans Am, and those who are lying. “Smokey and the Bandit,” a film about a man trying to smuggle Coors beer into my home state, was the fourth highest grossing film of 1977, the year I was one year old. What a great time to be alive.

Dreamy, Larger-Than-Life Portrait of Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn

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If they ever make a movie about my childhood (but they won’t), and if my biographer does her homework, Conway Twitty will be playing in the background. I was raised on a steady diet of 60s-70s country music. George Jones. Tammy Wynette. Loretta Lynn. That was Dad’s jam. This painting makes me nostalgic for a simpler time when parents felt comfortable riding around in an El Camino with their unbuckled children while listening to sexually-explicit songs like Twitty’s “Lay You Down.” Not a care in the world. (Okay, my parents actually made us buckle up, even in the 70s and 80s, but we did have an El Camino for a few years, and anyway, you get the idea.)

Thanks for letting me share a few vacation photos. Lee Greenwood, if you’re reading, I hope that you know it is my own upbringing that I’m mocking. It’s not you.

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6 Comments on “Honky Tonk Highlights

  1. Marie and I went to Nashville and had the best time. The Country Music Hall of Fame was awesome! They were working on an expansion…is it finished? I want to go back! I went on the Studio B tour and sat at a piano that Elvis played. And did you see his gold plated piano that Priscilla gave him at the HOF?

    • It’s crazy the stuff they have on display. I got to see Graham Parsons white embroidered suit. Ma Carter’s guitar. The handwritten lyrics Dolly drafted for “Jolene.” Amazing. I don’t if what we saw was the expanded version or not.

  2. oh wow, i TOTALLY agree about the cartoon snippets! I’m not sure I ever voiced that before, but once i read this i realized you hit the nail on the head. Even recently i felt that deep-down moment of excitement while watching Woody Allen’s Annie Hall and THIS scene came on: http://youtu.be/v-b82JY6qmQ
    p.s. the Conway-Loretta portrait brought me here!

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