The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Sunday, July 11, 2004
THE GRAND OLE OPRY ON A SATURDAY NIGHT: I drove my woman to the Opry in a big ole Cadillac. Really -- R. and I were visiting my grandmother in Nashville, and Grandma won't drive after dark, so I ferried the three of us to the Opry last night in her '88 Caddy. It's a real tank of a car, and it doesn't handle very well. Still, it sounds kind of cool to say it: I drove my woman to the Opry in a big ole Cadillac.

It was my second time at the Opry. The first came when I was little: My late grandfather owned (and founded) a local ad agency, and one or more of his clients were advertising at the Opry, so we all got to watch the show from backstage. I was too young to appreciate it: The legendary Roy Acuff played, and I was disappointed that he wasn't Roy Clark. But I still had fun, and my brother got Minnie Pearl's autograph, so a fine evening was had by all.

And last night's show? Of course we enjoyed it. The best set was probably the Whites', but they were hardly the only good act on stage: It was a joy to hear Connie Smith sing "If It Ain't Love (Let's Leave It Alone)," to hear Anita Cochran's spare take on "She's Got You," to see minor legends like Porter Wagoner and Little Jimmy Dickens in the flesh. The organizers conveniently grouped the worst material at the end of the program, with around 20 minutes of "country" schlock-rock by David Lee Murphy and Lee Roy Parnell. I do try to listen to the pop stuff with an open mind; my taste may tend towards the trad and the punk, but I don't want to be trapped in an alt-country ghetto while some new George Jones (or even a new Larry Gatlin) takes the mass public by storm. And sure enough, I found that I really enjoyed the first song Hal Ketchum sang (wish I knew what it was called); and while I could barely stand to sit through Andy Griggs' generic hit "She Thinks She Needs Me," I have to admit I liked the second song he played, which I think was called "If Heaven."

While I only saw the Grand Ole Opry once as a boy, I went many times to Opryland, the theme park adjacent to the auditorium. Apparently the roller coasters and flume zooms didn't bring in enough dough, because at some point in the '90s the owners tore down the park and replaced it with the enormous Opry Mills Mall. My mom didn't believe me when I told her this -- she said it sounded like the sort of thing I'd make up.


posted by Jesse 8:47 PM
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