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:
Up the street from me:
On the chopping block:
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: