Four months in Nashville

I moved to Nashville because they told me I was talented and I stood a good chance of making it. The guys from Audio Adrenaline sat down with me in their office. They liked my EP. They had listened to it in the tour bus on repeat. They wanted me to sound Sheryl Crow-ish.

But I had a low J-count. So I lived in a constant state of Sherylitis while doing my best to be more like veteran Christian diva Twila Paris. Unfortunately, the only song I’ve ever written that felt true and goodly had a complicated verse.

_A scandalous girl was given a glimpse of grace.
But after searching her lover’s face,
her womb was scraped and became a barren place.
And she tried to find herself,
but she was forsaken between soiled sheets,
just like her dreams._

No one “got” that song. It wasn’t radioworthy. In the hyper-conscious Christian music biz that song just wouldn’t sell. So I sat down with worship rocker Jason Ingram. The guy was refreshingly normal in an industry full of pseudo-rockstars high on grandiosity and clothed in faux-ripped denim. Jason wrote for Rebecca St. James, the virgin who didn’t believe in going on a date without a third-person-chaperone. Weird.

She told a small group of young aspiring female singers they shouldn’t wear spaghetti strap tank tops. I was the only one wearing a spaghetti strap tank top. Damn.

Jason asked me what I wanted to write about. I raised my eyebrows in consternation. What I wanted to write, or what they wanted me to write? I suggested we could try anything that wasn’t obviously sugar-sweet and suffocatingly Christian. He understood straight away.

I lasted four months in Nashville. My best friend in the world, the Reverend, flew in and suffered my insufferable roommates with me for a week while I prepared to head home to the true north strong and free. We had tickets to see a worship band record a live concert. It was later released with significant additional clapping dubbed in between songs. The concert was uncomfortably sterile and stale, motion and emotionless. Everyone looked perfect. Nobody looked happy. The lady on stage finally cracked, and a mote of humanity, indeed spirituality, surfaced. She began to introduce a song that she and her husband wrote when she had a miscarriage. I sensed her brokenness.

It sounds strange, but after four months of the shiny, shellacked veneer of the uber-polireligious-Repubristian world of Nashvegas I missed hearing about the darkness people faced. What followed was the most fake and awkward piece of pop music I had heard in the whole four months. I leaned over and held my head in my hands.

When I packed the car and said my goodbyes, I had no idea what would become of me. The Reverend and I drove through the Kentucky hills listening to Patty Griffin. She sang us all the way to the 49th parallel.

Issue 11

This article first appeared in Geez magazine Issue 11, Fall 2008, Geez Rocks Out.

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Issue 11, Fall 2008

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