A long, long time ago…
I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And, maybe, they’d be happy for a while.
I don’t have cable. My family does not value the television enough to pay that kind of money for regular programming. There are times, though, when that is a real inconvenience, like when something happens and you want to watch the news. I lived in Nashville, Tennessee, for three years with my family, and I have never loved a city like Nashville.
I have been to Europe twice, and I have driven the United State sleeping in my Volkswagen. I lived in New Orleans for a spell, and I have been back there many times. I was sad to see that beautiful, gritty, aromatic city get washed away in Hurricane Katrina, and I knew that there were cultural consequences that we do not fully understand.
Nashville, though, was different. Maybe it was the people who embraced us like family. Maybe it was the way that it feels both like a small southern town and a big Middle-Amercian city. Maybe it was the way that they loved coffee and liquor and food, and there was never a shortage of any of it. Maybe it was the way that people breathed Christian teachings and spiritual lifestyles, while the churches on every street corner become shrines to a tradition once treasured. Maybe it has to do with the music; the way that music is like the breeze that keeps the heat of the southern summers from being uncomfortable and wraps you up in a cozy warmth during the chilly winter months. Music City is not about country music, it is about the song and the songwriter, and the tourists come to see the product of this labor of love.
When I heard that Nashville was flooding, I was gripped with anxiety. I was hungry for information, for any indication that the breeze was still blowing, that the heart of the city was still beating. But I don’t have cable. My TV is only hooked up to my DVD player, as a matter of fact, so I don’t watch the news. I have been getting most of my information from online sources, from NPR in the car, and from Facebook updates from my friends in the city. It is clear, even in those glimpses of life in Nashville, that they are focusing on clean up and rebuilding, and they are assessing the damage.
It was this morning that I found the article in the Nashville Scene about Soundcheck. Soundcheck is a storage facility for musical instruments in East Nashville. Here is a quote from the Scene:
As you all well know, Nashville is rife with home studios and basement rehearsal spaces. Couple that with the professional spaces affected, and inevitably the cumulative value of the losses is incalculable, and sentimental losses are even greater.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, take a look at the pictures posted on Soundcheck Nashville’s Official Flood Blog. Located in East Nashville — right on the banks of Cumberland — Soundcheck is a sprawling complex housing many rehearsal spaces and TONS of storage facilities for a host of musicians, ranging from session men to outright superstars.
Flood clean up is nasty. Nothing survives. I lived through the flood of 2008 in Iowa, and I can tell you that this is no small task. As the locals and the stream of volunteers work through the process of cleaning up the debris and damage left behind from the Cumberland River, the stillness in the air will be undeniable. The breeze has died down, and it has been replaced with the stench of river water and the heaviness of the road ahead. There are instruments lost, venues destroyed, and musicians trying to pick up the pieces.
The soul of Music City is troubled, and until it finds the voice that it had before the waters came, Nashville will not be in full recovery mode. They will only be cleaning up the physical damage. Like New Orleans, until the heart of Nashville beats again with the vitality of the city’s culture and musical heritage, there will be little room for healing.
And in the streets: the children screamed,
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed.
But not a word was spoken;
The church bells all were broken.
And the three men I admire most:
The father, son, and the holy ghost,
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died.
Already, there are Flood benefit concerts and musicians all over raising money to help out. There is a stir in the air. Nashville has hope, and that is something that rings true in that city more than the music.
If you can, please take time to visit takepart.com and see if there is any opportunity that you can participate in to add to the hope in Nashville, or you can go straight to the source and contact www.hon.org for Hands On Nashville.