Russh: Nashville Essay
2011, NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE. It was summer and music was everywhere – on street corners, seeping under doors of air-conditioned bars on Lower Broad, thundering from a colossal stage in a football stadium across the Cumberland River. On a Sunday night, Taylor Swift was holding her hands in the shape of a love heart above her head at LP Field as fireworks fizzed and popped above her. I left midway through her set, weary and sweltering in 40 degree heat. I walked over the Shelby Street Bridge, saw lovers holding hands and French tourists in floral sundresses and beaten caramel cowgirl boots. I lent against the bridge’s barricade in the dark and watched the fireworks light up the buildings downtown. I knew no one, and my cotton shirt clung to the damp skin on my back, but I couldn’t remember a time when I’d been happier.
I didn’t go to Nashville with a guitar on my back and songs in my pocket – I went on a whim en route to New York, a mythical mega-city where I was certain I belonged, and ended up with media accreditation to cover the city’s annual CMA Music Festival. In between press conferences and glitzy stadium shows, I wandered the streets in the sticky heat and late at night, I watched poets and dreamers play for tips in rackety bars.
It was the dreamers who made me want to stay.