1. If you collect vinyl, then you’re S.O.L.
Sure, Nashville is home to United Records Pressing, which has pressed records for artists such as The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Jack White, Justin Timberlake, Kings of Leon, Stevie Wonder, The Roots, Radiohead, and The Black Keys. But let’s be honest — who’s ever heard of them anyway? Truth is, Nashville not only hosts the largest vinyl pressing plant in the United States, it’s also home to Jack White’s Third Man Records as well as Grimey’s New & Preloved Music, a record store that played a prominent role in the recognition and growth of independent record stores. This would later influence the third Saturday of April as Record Store Day, which is when a bunch of pretentious hipsters congregate and fight over the crackle and pop of their favorite albums.
Nice try, Nashville. But everyone knows vinyl is only good for stacking on bookshelves next to rows of novels you passionately recommend but have never actually read.
2. There’s no musical diversity.
It doesn’t matter if The Legend of Zelda is reverberating off neoclassical architecture at the Nashville Symphony or if the Jerry Vinett Big Band is flooding Centennial Park with their Boot Scootin’ Boogie, the diversity of music here is about as dry as a shriveled up bone.
3. Musical artifacts, shmartifacts.
Because where else would bore you with Elvis Presley’s gold piano, Buddy Holly’s bass, Maybelle Carter’s 1928 Gibson L-5 guitar, and other lame stuff like handwritten letters from George Harrison, Webb Pierce’s 1962 gun-obsessed Pontiac Bonneville convertible, or Jimi Hendrix’s lefthand guitar?
4. There’s absolutely nowhere to record.
Blackbird Studio is where musicians from all genres create and invent, including Beck, R.E.M., Red Hot Chili Peppers, My Morning Jacket, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Pearl Jam, The White Stripes, Manchester Orchestra, and Martina McBride; RCA Studio B is where legends like Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, Jim Reeves, and The Everly Brothers spilled their influence; and Quad Studios Nashville is where Jimmy Buffet wasted away in Margaritaville.
Which is all well and good until someone is ready to step up and record with the big boys — not some dinky recording studio with a collection of over 1,000 vintage microphones and state-of-the-art technologies. You either rock or you suck, Nashville. Get it together.
5. It’s not actually the birthplace of country music.
The Grand Ole Opry, founded in 1925 as a one-hour radio “barn dance” on WSM, is the longest-running radio broadcast in history. Hailed as ‘The Show That Made Country Music Famous,’ its stage has hosted regular legends such as Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Bill Monroe, Kitty Wells, the Carter Family, Minnie Pearl, and Dolly Parton. There’s also the Country Music Association, which was founded in Nashville in 1958 as the first trade organization created to promote a music genre, but let’s not get it twisted — due to the genre’s deep roots in Nashville, many forget that Bristol, Tenn., is actually the birthplace of twang.
6. There’s too much free music everywhere.
Free music readily available 365 days of the year? What gives? We’re not a freakin’ charity case.
7. Musical history? Yeah right.
Jefferson Street is Nashville’s own Beale Street, where the culture of rhythm and blues, jazz, and soul once thrived and manifested itself in Ray Charles’ soulful singing, Jimi Hendrix’s teeth cutting, and Etta James’ first recording.
But, as you know, Nashville’s real history lies on Honky Tonk Highway where you probably spent your first night hugging a questionably sticky toilet during your cousin’s bachelorette party at Tootsie’s.
8. There’s no personality behind the music.
No one walks into the Bluebird Cafe and leaves the same as they were before. It’s where musicians sit in intimate circles, surrounded by dimmed lights and contemplative listeners as they acoustically perform songs accompanied by personal stories; it’s cleansing, therapeutic, and detoxing. Here, your soul is in gratitude for the art of music.
Or you can listen to someone slur and stumble their way through ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ as a personal shoutout to their ‘dickhead ex-boyfriend’ while someone inevitably yells ‘Freebird!’ in the background. The latter is just as detoxing, but more in the sense of blowing chunks all night and ridding yourself of that Baja Burrito from earlier.
9. As a musician, you’ll be homeless, jobless, and on your own.
In addition to the Nashville Entrepreneur Center helping those in the industry make their startup sing through the 14-week initiative Project Music, Nashville opened Ryman Lofts as the city’s first subsidized housing designed for artists at an affordable rate. However, there’s simply not enough jobs in the industry here. According to the local Chamber of Commerce, for every 1,000 working-age population, Nashville leads the nation with 7.8 jobs in the music industry as opposed to Los Angeles’ 2.8 and New York’s 2.0.
So good for you, Nashville, but we’re not buying it ‘til that number is at least a solid 8.
10. Nashville just thinks it’s Music City.
Ever wonder where Nashville got its acclaimed name of Music City? In 1866, Fisk University opened in Nashville, becoming the first American university to offer a liberal arts education to “young men and women irrespective of color.” The Fisk Jubilee Singers began performing in small towns, and then larger cities like Cincinnati, Boston, and DC, later going on to perform in Europe. In 1873, they sang for Queen Victoria who was so impressed with their musical abilities, she said that with voices like theirs, they must have come from a musical city. In other words, if you’re really looking for music, whether to dive into the industry or simply to go to a free concert, you might as well pass this city up.
But don’t worry — there’s always LA.