A couple days ago I came up through Nashville with a close friend, and we decided to take the self-guided tour at the Ryman Auditorium. We walked around from the back of the building and snuck up on the sweetest looking tour bus I’ve ever seen; turns out it was Gregg Allman. What are the odds? We walked in hoping to accidentally catch a glimpse of the man himself, but ended up watching the crew set up for sound check.
While the crew set up, we wandered around the creaky floors and read the exhibits from artists 60+ years ago. It was a surreal feeling looking at the stage from the original pews where people sat to hear fiery preaching over 100 years ago. But the real kicker for me was just wanting to be a part of the country music throw-down that was the Grand Ole Opry. I had no idea how many of my favorite artists played there during that time. Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline, Bill Monroe, & Hank Williams brought the tunes at the Opry and kept the monster crowd coming back for more. Given, this is only a FEW of the amazing artists that played, but those were some of my top choices. I was shocked to find out that Elvis Presley only played one show in ’54 to an audience that couldn’t seem to warm up to his style. Elvis was never asked to come back. I guess no matter how good you are, if you don’t fit the vibe, you just won’t play certain venues.
As we kept browsing I realized that I might have been acting like a fat kid in a candy shop. Around every corner I was dying to see the next old artifact they had preserved in their king-size display cases. There were show posters, old guitars, clothes, shoes, sequin suit jackets (yep, sequin), and even Charlie Daniels XXL shirt from a show. The place reeks of real, genuine heart and soul, the kind that can’t be manufactured or commercialized, but real, good music.
If you’re ever in Nashville and have the chance to tour the Ryman, don’t pass it up. Best $13 I ever spent. You can feel the incredible history when you walk in, and you can’t seem to shake it off you when you leave. From the musty smell to the cracked and worn wooden pews, this place is all about good music that I wish I could have been around to hear 50 years ago.