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Bucket List

Nashville, Tennessee is by far, the most wild city I have ever visited.

I just returned from this bucket list trip that I didn’t know I needed to properly prepare for before visitation (code for: hydrate, rest, pray for salvation).

Every single night my friends and I would make false promises declaring, “Tonight...tonight will be the night we go to bed before 2, 3, 4 AM.” Lies. All lies. Although there was a free stacked breakfast with all the fixings at our hotel, we slumbered each morning, catching up from the previous night’s sins. Maybe we weren’t hungry because without fail we ended at Roberts for a hearty grilled cheese and a basket of onion rings?

Merle, Waylon, Willie and Johnny Cash was the playlist of my childhood, while dad was changing the oil on the cars in the driveway. While he was mowing the lawn out front. While he was pouring himself a cold one from our beer bar in the living room. I didn’t get it. I get it now. As I listened to Johnny sing Hurt, originally sung by the Nine Inch Nails, I wept. He opened me up, Johnny Cash.

The Grand Ole Opry was our destination on our final night. We climbed to our seats, cushioned benches in the nosebleed section. We were next to one another in pews: it felt like church. The space was marked with an imprint of each and every performer who stood in the circle prior, each displayed reverence and gratitude for being there.

Every artist STUNNED, and I wasn’t familiar with any of them. A man by the name of Don Schultz took to the stage, “I know you don’t know me from Adam. I’m just a songwriter. Let’s see if you recognize this one.” Then he began strumming the chords to The Gambler - the crowd exploded.

War and Treaty was next: a black couple singing country gospel. I kept saying WOW and COME ON and AMEN throughout their performance. Never in my life have I been witness to anything so moving. Finally, Old Crow Medicine Show played in perfect synchrony. A fiddle, mandolin, banjo, guitar and cello orchestrated a song they sang for the first time 20 years ago: Wagon Wheel. The only version I had heard prior was by Hootie’s Darius Rucker.

I left the Opry with a profound sense of feeling as though I had visited Holy Ground. And also that it was going to take me a week to recover.

If you’re ever in Nashville, I highly recommend staying up at the Drury Plaza Hotel, where they serve hot buttered popcorn in the Lobby on the daily, have an indoor/outdoor pool and hot tub, and offer a FREE dinner spread including THREE drinks each night.

Oh, and the music? That isn’t too shabby either.

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