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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Glebe in the USA 2013 - Nashville - Part 3

As I said at the end of the last post, I'll start with some grave news.......... well not really, just a play on words. I'm heading down the I65 to visit the Woodlawn Funeral Home and Memorial Park. After missing my turn off and going too far I ended up on Armory Drive next to the National Guard Depot. I'm sure they had me on camera ? but I'm no threat guys !, just a lost tourist. I managed to make my way back to Thomson Lane and the right way in.
It's really a quest to the graveside of one of my musical heroes, but I'll look at other poignant ones too.
I'm waiting to talk to the staff member manning the reception. He's busy running off some document copies for a wonderful old lady who lost her husband two weeks previous. While he's doing that I'm in conversation with this lady who's lived her whole life in Nashville. She's telling me about her seventy year marriage in that Tennessean Dolly Parton accent. Married at sixteen and has had a wonderful life. Remembers being very poor as a child and tornadoes and floods. Worked twelve hour days with her husband to build up their business. Has three children and I can't remember how many grandchildren. I could have listened to her for hours, but the man arrived back with the copies and she had to be away to a lunch date with one of her grandchildren. She really was a gem of a human being.     

Now the staff member kindly printed me off maps and names of well known internees of the funeral home and pointed me in the direction of the mausoleum where a number of well known people have crypts.

A few of these names rung bells but didn't mean a lot to me. I decided to take a look anyway.   
These first four are Jack Stapp, Dottie Rambo, Jerry Hubbard and J.D. Sumner.
Jack Stapp isn't a name I was familiar with but he was an influential country music manager and co-wrote, with Harry Stone, the popular song Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy.
Dottie Rambo was a well known singer songwriter in Gospel circles
Jerry (Reed) Hubbard I knew as Jerry Reed mainly for the song the U.S. Male, writing 'Guitar Man' which Elvis covered and of course Cledus, Burt Reynolds sidekick in Smokey and the Bandit.
J.D. Sumner, I knew the name, but couldn't place him. Only after looking him up I remembered his deep bass voice and the the Stamps Quartet-Elvis Has Left The Building. Here's a link to that song on Youtube.

Another I couldn't remember until the man in the mausoleum said "Talk back trembling lips"

I couldn't place Liz Anderson, but I did wonder if she was related to Lynn Anderson of Rose Garden fame. Yes, she was her mother. Some of her songs have been uploaded to the net. One of them is called " It Don't Do No Good To Be A Good Girl" !

Above there's Otis Blackwell, Van Stephenson, Gordon Stoker and Felice and Boudleaux Bryant.
Now then who do we know here?
Otis Blackwell I know, he wrote many of Elvis's early hits, wrote and composed albums for Jerry Lee Lewis, Conway Twitty, Marty Robbins, Dion, Del Shannon and dozens of others. Without doubt a mighty influence in the story of rock n' roll. There are very few big stars who haven't recorded an Otis Blackwell song.
Van Stephenson I must admit I didn't know. He died of Melanoma in 2001 at the age of 47.

I never knew his name, but I remembered Gordon Stoker's face when I searched it. From 1953 through to 2000 he was first tenor/manager of the Jordanaires.
Felice and Boudleaux Bryant names once heard, how could you forget them. I first noticed the names connected with the Everly Brothers, when a cover of 'Love Hurts' by Jim Capaldi came out the names stayed with me.

Virginia W Richardson was the final legal married name of the "First Lady of Country Music".
Of course it's Tammy Wynette, who can forget 'Stand by your man'.
With all the highs and lows in her life I think she was always destined never to reach old age.
I loved this woman. 

Now it was time for me to head outside. I was looking for areas with names like Gethsemane, Sermon on the Mount and Everlasting Life. Most gravestones are flush to the ground so until you're on top of them you don't know who they are. I found my first in Chapel Garden H 
It's the gravestone of Sally and Eddy Arnold.
Growing up in Fife apart from occasionally getting a good reception on Radio Luxembourg our radio would always be tuned to the BBC's Light Programme. Cattle Call by Eddy Arnold was always being played. As the 'Teacher' would say, one of the immortals 'he's dead now'

I'm moving over to another that wont be hard to find in the Jones Family Estates.
It's one of the ex husbands of  Tammy Wynette and of course it's the 'Possum' George Jones, who just died earlier this year.

Here's the reason I couldn't miss it.
He's so famous in Nashville that George will do. No need for the Jones. (Three people I spoke to just told me to look out for George). I first came across George Jones covering J.P.Richardson's 'White Lightening'. (I still prefer the Big Bopper's version). He was never big in the U.K., but there was never any getting away from him on my visits to the U.S.A, he was king.

Here he's singing his most famous song in his latter years.

The guy who was tending his fathers grave over by Eddy Arnold (come to think of it he looked like one of the Mavericks, I wonder if he was ?) said that George Jones had paid for an ex well known penniless singer to have a gravestone near his family...........
..............that was Johnny Paycheck. I couldn't remember the name, but I do remember the song "Take this job and shove it"

Now I'm at the gravestones that took a lot of finding. It's the late wife, brother and two sons of the late great Roy Orbison, the Big O.  I shed tears throughout the life of this legend at the tragedies he suffered. In 1966 Claudette was killed in a motorcycle accident. While touring England in 1968 he learned that he'd lost the two eldest of his three sons in a house fire at their home. In 1973 his elder brother Grady Lee Orbison, died in a car accident in when on his way to visit him for Thanksgiving. On December 7th 1988 we were in the car when we heard on the radio the news of his death the night before. My eyes misted over then too.  He did find happiness and children with Barbara, but sadly in 2011 on the 23rd anniversary of his death she died at the age of 60 from pancreatic cancer. That was very poignant for me too, roughly the same age and the same disease as my good lady wife. I was a while over their graves.   

Now I need to jump in the car, because where I want to be is a fair distance. This place is massive. Woodlawn is on the grounds of a farm owned by the Ligon family for generations. This log cabin, grist mill and duck pond might then be original.

Back in 2003 I heard Drift Away on the wireless in Western Australia. I remembered it from the 70's. For the next four and a half months, it was never off the radio no matter what continent I was on, it must have been re-released. I felt Dobie was deliberately keeping me company. I did get "lost in your rock n' roll.

Now I've arrived at the grave I most wanted to see.
I remember enjoying 'A white sports coat and a pink carnation' in the mid 50's. Then 'El Paso' snuck into the U.K top forty in 1960, but I only really got into Marty Robbins in 1963 when I got hold of a copy of the album 'Gunfighter Ballads', it had been released four years earlier and I probably got it cheap. I think I had that album until 1968 when it was probably worn out. Back in the U.K Marty didn't get a lot of coverage and only occasional airplay, usually Devil Woman, I seem to remember. I remember him touring the UK a couple of times in the 70's. Eighteen Yellow Roses got some airplay then. I never got to any shows, I think he played Hammersmith and Wembley. Every now and again the BBC would go mad and have Country Music Awards on in the middle of the night. My revival in Marty's music (It was always been there but latent) was watching old footage of him on TV in Calgary in 2003 and then on reaching America that same year, Country was king. Youtube and have been my fix since then.

N.B. He was also was an avid race car driver, competing in 35 career NASCAR races with six top ten finishes. The annual race in Nashville is called the Marty Robbins 420 in his honour.
Sadly Marty died prematurely at the age of  57 from a heart attack during cardiac surgery. 
Apart from the internet the only TV channel that you'll get Marty on these days is on 'Ireland West TV', on the Showcase Channel 191 on Sky Monday 10 pm and repeated Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
My Woman, my woman, my wife.

This is Larrie Londin
He was born just over a fortnight after I was. 
Drummed on more hit records than any other drummer in history.

It's only through Ireland West that I've ever seen Webb Pierce although I do remember his song
"In the jailhouse now"  

I came across this grave. I don't think this lady had anything to do with the music industry, I was just struck by the message. She drove a school bus for many a year.

I'd been a long time wandering around Woodlawn and although there were many other well known musicians I'd seen what I'd come to see. I'd again head to downtown Nashville. 

 I parked in my five dollar car park just off the Korean Veterans Boulevard, and began walking towards Broadway.  
It was quiet on the eve of Thanksgiving, it's even quieter now it is Thanksgiving, tomorrow America will go crazy on Black Friday. I'll be going across the road here to the Country Music Hall of Fame (It'll be open then) after visiting the Ryman Auditorium.

Now look who I see to the front of this poster. 
Maybe one of Marty's many impersonators is appearing.

Many U.S. Cities have an amazing skscraper skyline. I remember back in the 90's when travelling north from Cincinnati on the I71 that our first sighting of Columbus was like a speck on the horizon, and it was probably a couple of hours before we reached it. Nashville reminds me of that.

Music City Center was still closed, but I got to step on Chuck Berry's pavement stone.

This is another view of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

I've just walked by the Schermerhorn Symphony Center and set my camera up at this fountain. There's no one else around.

I'm walking towards the Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge.

Pigeons aplenty here. If i'd been up for it and had the time, apparently there are new pedestrian and cycle trails the 5 miles from the Cumberland Bridge back to my digs at Shelby Bottoms. Would have been interesting. If you live in Nashville, why not try it !.  

View from the bridge.

More bridge views.

The massive stadium L.P. Field, home of the Tennessee Titans and many other activities.

Nashville's Hilton goes under the name 'Hampton'

It's been an interesting day as I make my way back to my car.
I've made do with a coffee and bacon burger from the filling station today. I'll microwave tonight, but I'll eat out tomorrow.
The Ryman and the Country Music Hall of Fame are next.

Apologies for confusing some of you. I have been back in the U.K. since the 11th of December, it's just taking me time to sort out my photographs ( and memory) 


  1. Hello!
    I truly enjoyed this post. As much as I love music, this is like finding a treasure. Like you, I very much like the nice lady's grave, "Our mother, our friend, our everything", lovely.

  2. really enjoyable read through all the graves you visited and the quiet day in nashville. so interesting. i also like to know exactly what you had to eat so if you can remember more of your meal times for future posts, that would be very much appreciated.fantastic photos as always.

  3. I wasn't confused at all!
    Jim, a touching post and I'm reading between some lines but lots of gaps, with the P.Palace in the mix.
    I'm filled with a little envy but mostly admiration that you embrace such a big trip solo. Perhaps I need some tips.
    Glad you're home safe and hiking.

  4. What a classic road trip Jim. You've covered a lot of ground there. I'm not really a big country fan but I always liked Bobbie Gentry's 'Ode to Billy Joe'
    as it had an incredible story to tell with such clever, subtly ambiguous lyrics.

  5. Hi Kay, thanks for visiting. Just seen your profile and that you love to laugh. Ho ho ho.
    I came down through Georgia nearly three weeks ago, driving was good until I met a 28 mile tailback south of Atlanta. Didn't really get to see much of Georgia, had decided to stop at Vienna since it was just over half way of my drive. Not much there in the means of accommodation, I ended up in an Interstate Motel.
    At least I got my first look at your cotton fields. Have a good day.

    Hi Sez, looking forward to seeing you soon. My next post will have food details, I promise.

    I no I couldn't confuse you Rose, no it was an email and an earlier comment from someone else that they thought I was still travelling. The Pink Palace is still a while away yet.

    Hi Bob, I liked the subtleties of Ode to Billy Joe too.
    An early album of Hank Williams that I had back in the 60's was a used one from the 50's I'd purchased cheaply. Luke the Drifter 1955 had stories and one you might have heard of was 'Pictures from life's other side'. The song goes back way before Hank Williams.
    These songs weren't subtle, but they were real.

  6. Rose, that should be 'know', I knew something was bugging me !

  7. N.B That's the first 'no' that's wrong, the second no is OK.

  8. Oh deary me! I'm not sure I fancy the American idea of being dead. Just stick me under six feet of grass with a lump of sandstone that nobody will be able to read in 300 years time.

  9. -chuckle- I got it the first time, and I knew you'd be back to explain - and that's why I'm here now - to see you explain! :) I knew you'd just cringe if you thought, I thought - oh, haha you know what I mean!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Almost two years ago Rose, I knew then that you were someone special


Thanks for all your comments. I may not get to reply to them all, but you may be sure they'll be appreciated.

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