Nashville

 I’ve had a calling from Nashville for a number of years now. I’m not exactly sure why. My perception of the city could be all wrong. In my dreams, it is a city that breathes music and builds legends, one of the last great american cities.

I have a fantasy that I can go there a fool, a child, and come back a country singer. After all, that’s where the legends got their starts. I feel like Hank William’s ghost is waiting on every street corner, for ever lost soul with a dream. Dolly Parton is waiting in every gas station to give you a kiss on the cheek and tell you not to give up.

Every writer struggles, it is the nature of the profession. Every human being struggles, writers just acknowledge it. When you write, you just feel it more. I respect the notion of paying your dues, cutting your teeth and waiting your turn. I understand the concept of respect. Without pain you can’t feel beauty. Music is a pilgramige of love and it requires self-sacrifice and a dismisal of many material items. A leap of faith.

Maybe this is part of the reason I want to go. It’s my pilgramige. 

The plan is to drive my old car down to Nashville alone. Leave my job, my phone and my comfort all at home and try something. Spend some time roaming the streets, seeing the sites, meeting people and having an adventure. I want to play open mic nights and busk on the street. I want to drink at dive bars and go to church on Sundays. I want to head down to Memphis for a few days, tell everyone I learnt to play the blues in Memphis for my entire career, a white lie for stage banter.

Going anywhere by yourself is frightening, If anyone says otherwise they are a liar. I know I will experience great waves of lonliness. I will call the girl I think I love from a payphone and pour my heart out over a drunk, long-distance line. But I will write songs, I will learn other people’s songs, I will become better acquainted with my guitar, I will talk to strangers and tell my stories. I will perservere. I will come back broken, or, better than I have ever been.

Kids these days are cowards. My father told me in a not-so-poetic way, ‘that myself and my friends were drunks posing as musicians’. That line haunts me. He was right in many ways. I feel like we go to school and then work safe jobs, we practice on weeknights and get drunk and perform on weekends. Trust funds fund punk rock today. I am okay with being a drunk, I just don’t want to be a coward.

I can’t remember hearing Neil Young or Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan ever talk about the times they waited around, worked safe jobs, got drunk on weekends and then made it as legendary musicians. I can’t remember anyone great talking this way. I think that’s what my father was trying to tell me.

So here I am. Working a safe job, having a beer...on a weekend, writing this to you. Praying that I will follow through with my plan to take my pilgrimage, my journey to Nashville. I am afraid, but I am more afraid of being a coward. I am more afraid of writing this post and not following through.

So if I call you on the telephone don’t be alarmed, I’m just drunk and lonely in a town I’ve never met.

-Tanner James

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