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The Dashing Life and Exuberant Times of Brian Harrison....And Other Rare Anecdotes

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Music City U.S.A.

My times, my desires, my turn of events, and my feet have landed in Tennessee. Goodbye, Arkansas and the world of Harding. Goodbye, Alabama and my home. Hello, brother, sister, and darling companion. Greetings, Murfreesboro, Nashville, the music that pours out of the honky
tonks and into the streets and the back alleys of a Tennessee good-timin' metropolis.
What reasons do I have for such a move? I wish that I could say that I was starting a country music band. I would be that star twinkling out its song in the cool dark night air. These city rhythms are spectacular if one opens one's ears up to it. But no, my rhythm lies upon the sound of a more delicate beat. This is the beat not found in the snare and not found in the tapping foot, though hints can be traced in the tap of a shoe; I now live in Murfreesboro, where Kathryn lives and also my brother.
Regardless of how I got here, I happened to be wandering the streets of downtown Nashville last Saturday night taking in the musical measures wrapped in their celebrated twang. When I noticed the Ryman auditorium astir. This was the very place where the Grand Ole Opry began and where many country legends picked their guitars to the anxious audience. For some unkown reason, for a short while this highlight of Nashville life, the Grand Ole Opry, was back in the Ryman for a short while. The evening was getting close to 6:30 p.m., showtime for the Ryman; I decided to see what the shout was all about inside those ancient doors of bluegrass, honky-tonk, and the whining western world.
A swarm of people was moving in and I crowd among them with no ticket and no idea of a price for admission. In the hall of the Ryman, before I can say, "Hee-Haw", this lady dressed like Minnie Pearl comes up to me asking me if I was alone and if I would like to sit on the front row. Being absolutely honest, I say yes, I would love to sit on the front row. She hands me her ticket then she asks me where my ticket was for she wanted to trade. I again being absolutely honest admit that I didn't have a ticket and that I was just coming into the Ryman because I had never been here before and I had never seen the Grand Ole Opry. She takes one look at me and smiles and then hands me back the ticket telling me to enjoy that this was on her. I can't express the excitement I felt at this turn of fortune. Talk about luck. Then she walks with me telling me how she hopes that I have a good time.
Next, I make a stupid blunder. I somehow got my country music awareness mixed up with my western film awareness and trying to be polite, I say, "Thank you so very much. It's Miss Kitty, right?" Well, probably an utterance of pure sacrilege had never been spoken within these walls as calling this lady dressed with the old straw hat with a price tag dangling off, the wrong name. "No," she corrected me, "I'm Miss Minnie Pearl". Any other day I would have remembered her name, but for some stupid reason, in the excitement of the moment, it slipped my mind. She still beamed forgetting my blasphemy in this country music hall of fame and then warns me that I'd better smile for I was to be sitting on the front row and that there was a good chance that I would be on national television. I told her that I would be smiling, all because of her.
I went and found my seat on the church like pews of the Ryman. I saw many stars that night Little Jimmy Dickens telling his jokes, Porter Wagoner in the coolest suit gleaming like a disco ball, Ricky Skaggs picking his mandolin, Riders in the Sky in their fancy get up, Marty Stuart in his black leather outfit, Bill Anderson whispering up on stage and countless others whom those without much country music knowledge would find trivial. However, the fact that I was sitting only feet away from them absolutely free was something that I found very memorable. The television cameras zoomed back and forth on the singers and on the audience. All the while sitting there I was wondering if anybody was watching would they see me among the crowd. I thought but I couldn't think of a single soul who would be watching the Grand Ole Opry on a Saturday night. The next day I was proven wrong, none other than my own Uncle Esker saw me that night and even called my Bigdaddy and Grandmother about it. It seems you can't do nothing these days without someone finding out somehow. I should have guessed that Uncle Esker was watching the Grand Ole Opry that night but it had slipped my mind. My brother and his wife saw me on a re-run after they heard that I had gotten in for free. They said that in the 3 seconds that they watched it, the camera zoomed in on a close-up of me yelling "hee" in one of those crowd participation songs that Ricky Skaggs was doing in which one half of the audience yells "Hee" and the other side yells "Ho" to Ricky's cues. I now conclude only to say that I hope the rest of my time in Tennesse is similiar to this experience. Yee-Haw.