Monday, September 11, 2006


Amy Ray no longer plays her song "Nashville." She wrote it 20+ years ago, at a time when, the story goes, she felt a lot of animosity toward the city, Vanderbilt University, their oppressive racism and sexism, and the hoops musicians and songwriters must jump through there. She left and transferred to another school. The song on one level indicts Nashville and its ruinous effects on musicians. On another level, of course, it can be interpreted to be about much more than the games the music business plays...but by all accounts, Indigo Girls will never play the song in concert again because she is older and wiser and has let go of her bitterness toward the city. There are a couple other songs from their earliest albums they have also declared we fans will never again have the pleasure of hearing live.

That sucks for me about "Nashville" in particular because it's one of my absolute favorites of theirs. And not just because I, too, left my first choice university in a conservative city with its own special rules, singing as I went: "As I drive from your pearly gates I realize that I just can't stay, all those mountains, they kept you locked inside and hid the truth from my slighted eyes. I came to you with a half-open heart, dreams upon my back, illusions of a brand new start..."

I have found a recurring theme in my life of breaking up with places as if they were people.

I've never heard the Girls do "Nashville" live, but I've worn out multiple copies of the cassette and/or CD on which it is found, Rites of Passage. But for the first time this morning, I found myself singing it about a person, not a place.

"But I'll be walking proud, I'm saving what I still own
I fell on my knees to kiss your land
but you are so far down I can't even see to stand
In Nashville...
I'm leaving
I got all these debts to pay
You know we all have our dues, I'll pay 'em some other place
I never asked that you pay me back
We all arrive with more, I left with less than I had
Your town is made for people passing through
Last chance for a cause I thought I knew
You tell me what you are gonna do with all your southern style
It'll never pull you through
I can't place no blame but if you forget my face
I'll never call your name again, no, never again, no never again
I fell on my knees to kiss your land
but you are so far down I can't even see to stand
I'd like to know your fate, I'd like to stay a while
But I've seen your lowered state today
I'm running away, I'm running away
I'm running running running away."

--amy ray, 'nashville'

1 comment:

Bocepheus said...

I read this a long time ago, but I never commented. Until now. You just sent me a very long and powerful email. I'm afraid to reply, so I'll come over here and add a coment. I'm chickenshit. WHATever... I feel bad for Elton John. He started saying in '73 that he was sick to death of playing Your Song. In '75 he would tell the audience that if he drank enough during the show to forget the encore, he'd play it then. If he didn't get that drunk, he wouldn't. After his surgery in '88, he now performs it at every. damn. concert. Be it a TV performance, concert, guest appearance, etc. He's a slave to it. And if he stops playing it, the blue hairs in the audience don't buy his next greatest hit CD. $$$ And Elton is driven by money. Nothing but. So do I really feel bad for him? I don't envy him, I guess I should say that. So anyway, yeah, IG blacklisting their own songs is a sad thing. To me, at least.