Nashville Nights, Hollywood Endings: A Travelogue
I write a lot about Nashville and the sunrise, that radiant, golden hue that emerges from the Appalachian Mountains and casts its light on the 688-mile-long waterway that flows past rural towns and meanders through Kentucky and Tennessee, whose current carries rafters under the double arches of the Edward Moss Gatliff Bridge — a sandstone and concrete edifice that spans the banks of grass and greenery, and through which the river reaches its descent into the nighttime reflection of moonlight amidst the air of hemlock and pine — I see this mighty river, this “St. Lawrence Seaway of the South,” and I think about the history of this place.
I think about a fellow musician’s song about another great city of the Volunteer State, a kingly sight to behold and a site that commemorates the King of Rock and Roll.
The place is Memphis, the king is Elvis and the man is Paul Simon.
For “Graceland” is Simon’s ode to a road trip into the Mississippi Delta, shining like a National guitar and coursing through the cradle of the Civil War; a glorification of the rebirth of the Union and a source of grief involving the end of Simon’s own marital union; a city of poor boys and pilgrims with families — a journey the singer cannot explain, as he sees ghosts and empty sockets — where he has reason to believe that, by the spiritual accompaniment of Southern blacks and the musical assistance of South African blacks, we all will be received — in Graceland.
That is Memphis.
I am recording a new album — in Nashville.