Category Archives: music

It City Blues

Last week I posted this video of Grammy-winning songwriter Gary Nicholson voicing opposition to a project before Nashville’s Planning Commission in song form; this week we take up that theme again with Nashville’s Shelby Bottom String Band performing the “Displacement Blues.” Enjoy:

Nashville has always been a development town; when I moved here in 1986 one of the first things I had to do was write a letter to my councilman about a subdivision under construction next door to me. That would set the tone for my next 28 years here.

The last few years have seen Nashville’s growth reach cancerous proportions. City “planners” (and I use the term loosely) and developers love to talk about the benefits of “gentrification,” but they refuse to acknowledge the downsides. The Nashville Scene has done some excellent coverage of this issue (see here, for an example).

But sometimes, as the saying goes, it all begins with a song. (I find it especially delicious irony that this video was funded by a grant from the Metro Arts Commission.)

Here’s the stuff they’re tearing down:

Before:

Before .....

Born in 1870 …..

And after:

.... and AFTER

…. Died in 2014. Fuck you, Richard Branson

Up the street from me:

Gone ... to be replaced with 28 new homes

Gone … to be replaced with 28 new homes

On the chopping block:

Standing in the way of progress

Standing in the way of progress

Fuck you, Charlotte, N.C.-based Llewellyn Development LLC:

History, schmisstory! Condos are where it's at!

History, schmisstory! Condos are where it’s at!

It’s not just the loss of history, it’s the displacement and change to neighborhood quality of life. The stone house in my neighborhood was rented to two kindergarten teachers; I doubt they could afford to live in this neighborhood any more.

Used to be, Nashville was a place people moved to because it was “easy” and “affordable.” Everything was close by, your morning commute didn’t involve sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. That’s all pretty much gone now, and good luck finding a house for under $700,000 in my neighborhood. People say $700,000 is a steal compared to cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and New York. That may be true, but this is not those places. This is Nashville. People here don’t earn San Francisco or Los Angeles salaries. We don’t have New York or Chicago mass transit.

I’m not sure where this is all going but I do think we’re seeing the beginning of pushback. When the creative community starts speaking out — and some big names (Keith Urban, Ben Folds) are doing just that — it inspires the whole community.

It will be interesting to see where this goes.

And BTW: who’s buying these things? You tell me. But I see an awful lot of this:

Please buy me. No one else will!

Please buy me. No one else will!

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Filed under music, Nashville

Only In Nashville

Songwriter Gary Nicholson has written more hits for more superstars than most of today’s young whippersnappers could ever hope to write (you can check out his songwriting resume here). He also lives in my neighborhood, and last week showed up at a Metro Planning Commission meeting to voice opposition to a truly ridiculous subdivision that had been proposed — a teensy tiny lot big enough for a magnolia tree and some idiot wants to put a dang house on it. That’s such a Nashville thing these days. I like to say I pick up my dog poop on our daily walks because if I don’t some idiot developer will plant a 3-story condo on it.

Anyhoo, Nicholson voiced his opposition in song form, and it’s truly an “only in Nashville” moment:

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RIP, Pete Seeger

Woops brain fart. Woody Guthrie wrote “This Land,” NOT Pete Seeger … ! Well, I got it right the first time.

Looks like I’ll have to do another photographic tribute.

——————————————————-

I did a photographic tribute to Pete Seeger Woody Guthrie a couple years ago. In honor of the passing of this great American, here it is again.

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Filed under music, music and politics, pop culture

Look What They’ve Done To My Song

Yeah, I’m old. I don’t care who knows it, either. I’m old and grumpy and when I see stuff like last night’s Grammy Awards it just makes me want to laugh at how ridiculous pop music is today. Offa my lawn, etc.

Daft Punk? WTF? Sorry, but this made me laugh:

daft-punk-grammy-2014

I saw the “robots” win two awards. They hugged each other and walked to the stage and stood there in their stupid helmets, not saying a word because they don’t speak but somehow won a musical award. I don’t get it. How fucking ridiculous. Is that supposed to be ironic or something? It’s crazy. We don’t even know who was inside those outfits. The Daft Punk guys could’ve been on a beach somewhere and sent understudies. [UPDATE: Ha! I was right!] We’d never know. Daft, indeed. Punk? Not so much. You kids today.

But honestly, the worst part of the show last night for me was supposed to be its best: the mass gay wedding presided over by Queen Latifah. Y’all know, I love the gays, I support gay marriage, but a mass wedding on an awards show televised on prime time? I mean, c’mon. Wow. That just trivialized the whole thing for me.

Our GLBT friends deserve to celebrate the many amazing victories — political and cultural — they’ve worked so hard for over the past few years. But a televised mass wedding on a music awards show sorta sends the opposite message of the fight for civil rights. You can’t frame your battle as having the same gravitas as the fight to overturn Jim Crow and then turn it into “razzle dazzle.” Fighting for rights is not showbiz. It was just tacky, tacky, tacky.

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Silver Bells

I thought we could use a break from all the downer news out of Connecticut. If you’ve never heard an angel sing, well here you go. Mindy Smith is a true treasure. Enjoy and peace out.

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Friday Night Music Video

Enjoy. This chick is something of an internet sensation for her acid flashback videos. Some might say they are best enjoyed with the sound off.

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Filed under fun and games, music

This Land

Our ribbon of highway hit a few bumps ….

… so we roamed and rambled a road less traveled …

… from the Redwood Forest …

… to the Gulf Stream Waters … (well … almost! I’m still boycotting Florida!)

… the sun was shining …

.. and a voice came chanting …

This land was made for you and me!

And the final verse of that song which we didn’t sing in summer camp:

In the squares of the city – In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office – I see my people
And some are grumblin’ and some are wonderin’
If this land’s still made for you and me.

I always thought that Woody Guthrie wrote that song during the height of the Great Depression, but wikipedia tells me no, the lyrics were written in 1940 and the song recorded in 1944. That’s at the height of the World War II, a time when we’re all trained to believe the entire nation was uniformly pro-war, pro-America, the “greatest generation” of patriots sacrificing for the cause of freedom, etc. That Guthrie would record such a cynical message in 1944 (or be allowed to record it, I should say) is amazing to me.

It’s also interesting that the song went on to become such an iconic American tune, though I concede it’s primarily the first two politically correct verses which have been seared into the national consciousness and I suspect that all came later during the ’60s folk revival, anyway.

Still, this reminds me of the distorted view of history we all have.

More travels tomorrow ….

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Filed under music, music and politics, travel