Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Let's Say Goodbye Like We Said Hello

Bumper Sticker purchased at Ernest Tubb's Record Store

The title of this post is actually the title of a song recorded by country legend Ernest Tubb. I just heard the news that Ernest Tubb's Record Shop is closed as of yesterday. 

Do you suppose that John Hartford had a premonition when he wrote this song?

No, I expect that Hartford observed the trends of 1972 and thought them through to a natural conclusion. Makes me sad, though. 

I don't go to Nashville on a regular basis, never did, but any time I went, a visit to Ernest Tubb's was in order. I enjoyed browsing and exploring the vast array of music, most on compact disc, and made quite a few discoveries. I honestly can't tell you that they carried "hit country" stuff (though it's a reasonably safe bet that they did) -- I was more interested in the traditional country and bluegrass, the obscure and hard-to-find. I enjoyed browsing the souvenirs and memorabilia, and always let my imagination take me back to times never personally experienced, daydreaming about the legendary musicians who performed on Ernest Tubb's Midnite Jamboree Radio Shows.

It's telling that on my last visit to Nashville's Lower Broadway, after an early lunch at Jack's and a visit to the Mother Church -- Ryman Auditorium -- I didn't cross the street to visit Ernest Tubb's; just couldn't stand the noise and the crowds. And maybe it's the recent years' crowds' appetite for the loud and flashy that helped to drive the old record shop out of business; the brief announcement of the closing said only that "due to changes in circumstances out of our control, it’s now clear the best way forward is to sell the business and the real estate."

Linebaugh's, the restaurant/barber shop mentioned in Hartford's song, once served the likes of Patsy Cline and Jim Reeves but is long since closed. The Grand Ole Opry left the Ryman for Opryland almost 50 years ago. At the time there was talk of removing all of the Ryman's memorabilia to Opryland and tearing down the Mother Church! But I'm here to tell you that the Ryman's walls talk, and I hope that enough of the throngs who visit Nashville nowadays will actually listen.

Gruhn's Guitars, another of my favorite Broadway "wonderlands," has moved away from Broadway. Hatch Show Print has relocated. All but a couple of the gritty old honky-tonks have vanished, replaced by glitzy, expensive and L.O.U.D. celebrity establishments. 

And now Ernest Tubb's is gone ... seems like nothin's left of what made Nashville, Nashville.