A Bittersweet Ballad for a Bygone Music City Mash-up
My mom and dad were fun-loving lounge singers with endless energy and outrageous perms to match. Then they became parents, Nashville became “cool,” and we all started to wonder what might have been.
Illustration by Ayun Halliday
I was in a bathroom stall at a bar when I read an ad on the back of the door: “Nashville is…cowboys with smart phones, southern belles with tattoos, southern hospitality and culture with a SoHo flair.”
I went back and sat at the bar and peeled the label off my beer while I wondered who the hell really believed that. Someone had to have thought it was brilliant. Someone had to have okayed it, proofread it and sent it off to be printed. A cowboy with a smart phone is just a Billboard country songwriter, churning out lines like sit on my tailgate, you look good in that skirt — trash that somehow makes a lot of money. A southern belle with a tattoo is just a sorority girl who got too drunk in Panama City. Southern hospitality with a SoHo flair is just a restaurant where a historic home used to be, with a middle-aged chef from somewhere else, who thinks that cheese grits are the essence of southern cuisine.
Glossy magazines drunk on a post-recession lust for Amer…