If you love music as much as I do (and chances are, you do) there are times where you get all emotional and feel really stupid and cheesy about it. (Which I’ve done multiple times.)
One of the places that impacted the very framework of my soul was The Ryman Auditorium.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit this place twice, but still haven’t seen a show there…yet.
I’ve never been a big country fan. And by country, I mean the current stuff. Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan make me gag a little.
But one thing I’ll always respect is roots. Whether it’s blues or old country/bluegrass, I eat that shit up. I love seeing the progression of a genre and how influences trickle down.
So let me set the stage for you:
When you enter the Mother Church of Country Music from 4th Avenue, you’ll wonder why in the hell they gave her a facelift. It’s really just so they could fit in a gift shop, newer offices and ticketing. So ignore it. Her facade is still there.
When you walk into the auditorium, something changes immediately. The modern and hideous architecture fades away, and she gives you a giant hug full of warmth and history.
You’ll enter on the lower level, which to me, almost reminds me of vintage amusement park rides. It has the whitewashed wooden planks and small support beams sprinkled throughout. The top deck overhangs pretty low. Almost too low to be convenient or feel safe, but low enough to also be PERFECT. Even though she was a church first, my heart goes to amusement park. Feel free to judge me.
She seriously has this inconvenience to her that says, “Try to change me. I dare you.”
But wait until you hear the acoustics. You’ll understand her ego. The acoustics have never seemed so perfect in my entire life. It immediately let me know that every sound I’ve ever heard was impure and unworthy. I will forever judge venues by The Ryman, and that just isn’t fair.
Her acoustics make you feel like there is some presence in there. Like at any second, Patsy Cline is going to walk by, or you’ll hear the echo of Johnny Cash’s bass-baritone.
No joke. The lingering air isn’t creepy. It makes you feel like this place is sacred. Try to imagine somewhere with that much history. With roots that go deeper than The Ryman’s. The idea of going to some large stadium and seeing a show makes me shudder after being in this place.
The Opry may have retired her and moved to higher water, but even they return once a year to pay their respects. And she still acts as a stage for countless modern acts. Her wall covered in concert posters looks like a dream playlist or hall of fame.
The first time I visited, a band was playing that night. The sound booth is directly in the center of the upper-level, and needs to be walked through to get to the other side. I took pause, thinking I’d need to find a new route. One of the engineers stopped and said, “Go on. It’s your home too.” And damn, I wish I could make The Ryman my true home.
Needless to say, this post doesn’t do her justice. So I’d suggest taking a trip to The Ryman. She’ll be waiting with open arms.