Opry at the
Well, I did
it again. I went to the Grand Ole Opry. Just shut up about it - this IS
Nashville, after all. Cheapest entertainment in town - they really give your
money’s worth with a long continuous show. Ticket prices are low to stay in
the price range of us "common folk," the ones who supposedly support
the country music industry.
Somehow, I always seem to find my self defending country music
just because I live in Nashville. It seems to be a love or hate sort of thing,
and country music makes an easy target for criticism - music with a Southern
accent and rural roots.
I couldn’t stand it either when I first moved here, but in
Nashville, you either listen to country music or you don’t listen to anything.
Firstly, I’d like to report that I saw the entertainers with my very own eyes.
That twang is really natural and they do not hold their noses or use clothes
pins to sound like that.
Probably the most interesting aspect of this particular show was
that it was at The Ryman Auditorium, the "mother church of country
music," as we were reminded numerous times. To tell the truth, we didn’t
really need much reminding as the hard wooden church pews that we were setting
on was reminder enough that the old auditorium, traditional home of the Opry,
was once a church in another life.
After the Opry moved on to better digs, the Ryman fell to near
ruins. It was rescued and refurbished and is now mostly used for other
functions. It still seems old, but the restoration seems miraculous after seeing
the seemingly impossibly decomposed old building that dominates Nashville’s
old downtown entertainment area. By popular request, the Opry did a three day
stint back at the old place last year. It was such a success that they decided
to do a full month this year.
The show itself was the usual fare, county singer after country
singer. Seems they dug up even more of the older performers than usual, and they
all wanted to do their oldest songs in honor of being back at the Ryman.
The new Opry house out on Briley Parkway is a much larger place
and holds a lot more people. So moving to the Ryman for a brief period of
nostalgic rerun severely limits the size of the audience.
As usual, the Opry was broadcast live on radio, complete with
commercials. Promoters like a lot of enthusiastic cheering in the background,
and we were prompted to add appropriate audience sound effects. Guess they
figured country music fans were not smart enough to applaud on our own, or
perhaps they figured the music wasn’t good enough that we’d want to.
We munched popcorn out of boxes that looked like miniature
cardboard versions of the Ryman and watched the show, trying to figure out which
lady had the biggest hair and wondering how much those tacky sequined outfits
cost that the guys all seemed to favor. They twanged away on guitars and sang
into numerous microphones that occasionally screeched and squawked.
There were giant speakers for their sound system with numerous
electric cables and cords running every which way. I missed the talented square
dancers that are usually a part of the show, but the stage was much smaller and
there was less room for dancing and more room for breaking your neck by falling
I have often wondered why country music was not ruined by music
video. If you think they sound bad, you should see how they look. Each one that
came out seemed uglier than the one before.
Trisha Yearwood was the big name talent of the evening. If you
aren’t familiar with country music, she is one of the "new breed" of
country singers, with big selling records and a more modern sound. Many of the
newer country stars still belong to the Opry out of some sense of professional
obligation, I guess. She is an attractive woman, but fat. I hate to be rude, but
with hips like a hippo the gal really should wear something other than black
sequined pants. Even with her shirttail hanging out over them, she couldn’t
hide her big behind. Can’t knock her singing though. She can sure belt em out.
Well, speaking of behinds, my rear is still numb from the
benches and my knees may never quit aching from being stuffed in those tight
quarters all those hours, but I won’t say I’m sorry I went. It was
professional entertainment at a bargain price. It was country music finding its
mother and remembering where it came from. As long as there is hard drinking and
forlorn love, there will always be material for county musicians to sing about.
What more could anyone want – especially in Nashville?