Beyond Words
Nashville Arts Magazine
September 2012

During the dog days of summer, it’s east to question living in Nashville. I have friends who have second homes in places like Montana just so they can avoid ….

Read the entire article ››


Beyond Words
Nashville Arts Magazine
August 2012

Have you ever noticed the fine line that runs between being cool and being a fool? Between “just right” and over the top? Between eccentric and just plain crazy? I recently encountered yet another fine line—the one between potential disaster and magic….

Read the entire article ››


Beyond Words
Nashville Arts Magazine
July 2012

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your physical urges defy all logic? You’re thinking, I can’t believe I’m doing this! … yet you continue doing it?

Read the entire article ››


Beyond Words
Nashville Arts Magazine
June 2012

Have you ever seen an unusual insect in your yard and wondered what it was? Something that stopped you dead in your tracks? Something that made you yell out, Hey Myrtle, come look at this weird bug!

Read the entire article ››


Beyond Words
Nashville Arts Magazine
February 2012

There’s something liberating about letting yourself fall apart and letting someone else – preferably a stranger – pick up the pieces. I have experienced this twice, once in a Hertz parking lot in Los Angeles and the other in Terminal 2 at the Mexico City International Airport.

Read the entire article ››


Beyond Words
Nashville Arts Magazine
January 2012

It’s that time of year again—January. Time for the post-New Year’s, post-Christmas blues, right? Come ye tired, ye poor, ye hung-over, ye sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder!

I feel your pain. January used to be the most depressing month of the year for me, for sure. Then, in the mid ’80s, I started going to Vanderbilt basketball games which seemed to help. The lights, the crowds and the excitement were the perfect antidote to my winter blues. And playing music, of course.

Read the entire article ››


Beyond Words
Nashville Arts Magazine
December 2011

Bah Humbug?

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little Bah Humbug about Christmas. Seems like the older I get, the faster Christmas seems to roll around. You’ve no sooner taken down the tree, than it’s time to put up another one. I once suggested to my family that we celebrate Christmas every other year. My suggestion was met with silence.

Then last week something happened within my family that has me back in the Christmas spirit like never before. I received an email from my older sister Mary announcing that she and her husband were sending no presents this year. They were going to give a donation to a favorite charity and asked that the rest of us do the same.

Read the entire article ››


Beyond Words
Nashville Arts Magazine
November 2011

Grits Galore!

Okay. This is for all you cheese grits aficionados out there. And I imagine there are plenty of you, since Nashville is considered part of the southern United States.

This past week, I played a string of concerts along the South Carolina and Georgia coast, with stops in Savannah, Charleston, Sea Island, and Beaufort. The Charleston gig was a benefit for the Nature Conservancy of South Carolina and the Charleston Library Society (“The South’s oldest cultural institution, founded 1748″). It was well attended by a diverse crowd that included everybody from Arrington Walker (flower girl at my parent’s wedding) to former Vanderbilt football coach Bobby Johnson and his wife Catherine.

Read the entire article ››


Beyond Words
Nashville Arts Magazine
October 2011

Okay. I admit it. I got somewhat depressed after I returned to Nashville from Mexico. I lost weight. Like, ten pounds, which is significant when you don’t weigh that much to begin with. Thinking maybe I’d picked up some amoebas In Mexico, I went to my doctor for a blood test. As it turned out, everything was normal. So I decided to surrender to whatever this was. I stayed home and moped.

Read the entire article ››


Beyond Words
Nashville Arts Magazine
September 2011

Sunrise in San Miguel

For over a month, I have been in San Miguel de Allende, an artists’ retreat located in the highlands of Central Mexico. This is my fourth trip to San Miguel, a charming colonial town founded by Spaniards in 1542. The altitude here is approximately 6,500 feet, which means that, once the sun goes down, a sweater or jacket is required— even in July and August.

Read the entire article ››


Beyond Words
Nashville Arts Magazine
August 2011

Cornbread or Rolls?

That question gets asked a lot around Nashville. And unless I’m at Rotier’s, it’s hard to answer. But at Rotier’s it’s easy.

“Rolls!” I say, without hesitation.

Sometimes I drift by Rotier’s in the mid afternoon when it’s quiet and peaceful. I usually grab a newspaper, or talk with Margaret Anne (whose parents founded Rotier’s in 1945) or Eddie Cartwright who’s been working there for over twenty years.

“You doin’ all right?” Eddie asks.

“Oh, I can’t complain,” I say.

Eddie is good at reading customers. He instinctively knows when to leave you alone and when to engage in conversation.

Read the entire article ››


Beyond Words
Nashville Arts Magazine

July 2011

Last week I played my first hippie music festival—Hippie Jack’s Sixth Annual Memorial Day Festival, which takes place on Hippie Jack’s farm about a hundred miles east of Nashville. The festival has become sort of the Bonnaroo of Americana and roots music. This year’s lineup included Jim Lauderdale, David Olney, Malcolm Holcombe, and Darrell Scott.

Read the entire article ››


Beyond Words
Nashville Arts Magazine

June 2011

It’s amazing how quickly life can go from absolute pits to heaven within a matter of minutes. Take what happened last weekend. My husband Chris and I had flown to Key West for the Key West Songwriters Festival. We had heard good things about the festival and were excited to be participating. The festival had even taken care of our accommodations and ground transportation, which helped offset the cost of our airline tickets.

Read the entire article ››


Beyond Words
Nashville Arts Magazine

May 2011

Every now and then, I ask myself: Why do I continue to call Nashville home? In this day and age of Internet and satellite radio, a singer-songwriter like myself could live anywhere, right? Am I going to put up with the pollen, humidity, traffic, mosquitos, chiggers, and increasingly unpredictable weather (i.e., tornadoes) until my dying day? Then something magical happens, and my contract with the city gets renewed. I realize it’s the people that keep me rooted in Music City.

Read the entire article ››


Beyond Words
Nashville Arts Magazine

April 2011

Every now and then, something happens in Nashville that could only happen in Nashville. Take what happened last week. I was asked to be the guest host for Music City Roots, the wildly popular radio show that’s broadcast Wednesday evenings live from the Loveless Café Barn. This particular episode was to be a celebration of Jewly Hight’s new book Right by Her Roots: Americana Women and Their Songs, which profiles eight singer-songwriters. Three of the eight—Mary Gauthier, Elizabeth Cook, and Abigail Washburn—were slated to perform that night, along with emerging artist Bailey Cooke. I was told I would open the show with a song, then banter around with announcer Keith Bilbry and Jewly before leading everyone in a grand finale known as the “Loveless Jam,” which would be a song of my choosing.

Read the entire article ››


Beyond Words
Nashville Arts Magazine

March 2011

I’ve always had a lot of conflict around the Southern lady thing. Whenever I see restroom signs that say LADIES and MEN, I become offended. LADIES and GENTLEMEN doesn’t bother me. At least the playing field is level. Also, LADIES and GENTLEMEN has an elegant, showbiz tone I find somewhat appealing. (Ladies and Gentlemen! Lend me your ear!) As for restroom signs, the egalitarian WOMEN and MEN is my preference. LADIES and MEN drives me to distraction . . . and, in some instances, to deface property.

Read the entire article ››


Beyond Words
Nashville Arts Magazine
February 2011

One of the most wonderful feelings in the world is the euphoria that follows being reunited with a treasured object you had given up for lost.

Take what happened a few weeks ago. I was at a hair salon in Green Hills having my hair washed. As I settled into the shampoo chair, I removed my pearl earrings, carefully placing them in the left pocket of my sweat pants. The earrings—a Christmas gift from my husband—are one of my most treasured possessions. I always remove them before having my hair shampooed. The thought of one of them coming loose and disappearing down the drain is more than I can bear.

Read the entire article ››


Beyond Words
Nashville Arts Magazine
November 2010

As I awakened this morning, it dawned on me that Nashville is entering into some sort of Golden Age as far as the music scene. It’s true. The level of talent these days is mind boggling. And I’m talking about all kinds of music, not just country. The Atlantic recently reported that more musicians live and work out of Nashville than either Los Angeles or New York City.

Read the entire article ››


Beyond Words
Nashville Arts Magazine
August 2010

On June 29, I was scheduled to play in the round at the Bluebird Café with Tommy Womack, Peter Cooper, and Will Kimbrough. Since these guys are good friends and Will played lead guitar on my soon-to-be released CD, I was especially looking forward to this event. Then I heard Kimbrough had to bow out. He’d been summoned to do something with Jimmy Buffett. As every musician knows (myself included), a call from Buffett is a call that can’t be ignored.

Read the entire article ››


Beyond Words
Nashville Arts Magazine
July 2010

A week ago (June 6), I happened to be sitting in the back seat of a Ford Expedition barreling down a cobblestone highway in north central Mexico at speeds hovering around a hundred miles per hour. This particular highway spans the desert floor between Federal Highway 57 and the Catorce Mountains. The Ford Expedition was big and black with blacked-out windows, fancy chrome-plated hubcaps, and chrome-plated dual exhaust. Other than the Alabama license tag, proclaiming “Sweet Home Alabama,” everything about this vehicle screamed Drug Cartel.

Read the entire article ››


Between The Lines
Nashville Arts Magazine
June 2010

One thing that struck me in the aftermath of the Great Flood was the contrast between total devastation and unscathed. My husband and I were among the fortunate. Our basement remained dry as a bone.

Sunday morning (May 2), as the heavens continued unleashing Biblical torrents of rain on our fair city, I turned on my computer to check the neighborhood message board. Our neighborhood is the historic Richland-West End district. Even though we were spared major flooding from nearby Richland Creek, it seemed everyone’s basement was flooding. I read with horror accounts of neighbors wading through chest-high water, desperately trying to reach their fuse boxes ahead of the rising tide. One message suggested everyone check their gutters. One clogged downspout, it said, and the water pouring from your gutter could not only flood your basement but weaken your house’s foundation.

Later, while having breakfast with my husband, I happened to glance outside where, to my horror, I saw a rushing stream of water gushing from both sides of one of our gutters. It looked like Niagara Falls out there.

“Damn!” I said, “Would you look at that!”

Chris seemed unfazed, whereas I was on red alert. A rumble of thunder sounded in the distance.

“I’m going outside,” I announced.

Read the entire article ››


When The Rains Came
Garden & Gun Magazine
August/September 2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I awaken to rain. Lots of rain. Damn! I’m thinking. My hair appointment’s at noon. What a waste! My hair looks best in low humidity. High humidity or rain, and it’s Frizz City.

Normally, I don’t worry much about my hair, as it seems to have a life of its own. But tonight is no night for normal. I’ve just received word that Jimmy Buffett wants me to sing with him at Bridgestone Arena, so I should at least try to look my best. I grab a big umbrella and head for Green Hills as the rain continues to fall. Sheets and sheets of rain. And now the wind has kicked up, which makes the umbrella hard to handle. At Heads Up, conversations revolve around tornadoes. The last thing on anyone’s mind is a flood.

Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville is where the NHL’s Nashville Predators play ice hockey. It’s also where Jimmy Buffett will play host to eighteen thousand Parrotheads. I’m told Jimmy wants me to sing and play on “Smart Woman (in a Real Short Skirt),” a song we wrote together over a crabmeat salad the summer I played guitar in his band.

My husband, Chris, and I head toward downtown in my Land Rover. Meanwhile, rain continues to fall in torrents. I reach for the Weather Band dial on the radio. A computerized voice issues flood warnings. If you see water standing in a road, turn around, don’t drown. They always say that whenever it rains hard. Then we hear something about Interstate 24 being under water, and Chris wonders aloud if the weather will affect tonight’s attendance. “Are you kidding?” I say, laughing. “Jimmy’s fans will be there, come hell or high water!”

Read the entire article ››


Dunkadelic!
Vanderbilt Magazine
Fall 2009

Melanie Balcomb can stand the heat. I discovered this firsthand the day I met her in the spring of 2002. At the time Vanderbilt was in the throes of finding a new women’s basketball coach. I had been asked—along with my husband, Chris Fletcher—to be part of the search committee.

“Her name’s Melanie Balcomb,” we were told. “She’s the coach at Xavier.”

Read the entire article ››


Keeping Secrets
Garden & Gun Magazine
August/September 2009

Sometimes it’s best to let a secret remain just that—a secret. Say you have a favorite restaurant where everybody knows you, where it’s always cool and comfortable, where you can always find a seat at your favorite table by the window. If you go around blabbing about it, next thing you know, the restaurant is no longer yours. Your favorite table no longer available, your favorite waiter unable to acknowledge you because he’s too busy dealing with the invading riffraff.

Read the entire article ››


Whole Lotta Christmas
Garden & Gun Magazine
December 2008/January 2009

Sometimes I wish Christmas would just go away. For the past three Christmases, I have come down with a flu-like virus that managed to suck the holiday spirit right out of me. On some level, I think my body shuts down to avoid participation. It seems the older I get, the more I want to shout, “Hold it! Just hold everything!” I recently asked my husband if we could start celebrating Christmas every other year.

Read the entire article ››


The Sweet Sounds Of Nashville
Garden & Gun Magazine
November 2008

There are nineteen towns and cities in the United States with the name Nashville. But only one captures our imagination, and that’s Nashville, Tennessee—otherwise known as Music City, USA.

I came to Nashville in the fall of 1967 to attend Vanderbilt University. My parents had wanted me to go to Hollins, Sweet Briar, or Agnes Scott, but I was set on Vanderbilt only because it was in Music City.

“But we don’t know anybody out there,” my mother protested.

Exactly, I thought. And that’s why I’m going.

Read the entire article ››


Dear Coach
Garden & Gun Magazine
September/October 2008

I’ve always had a thing for coaches. Especially Southern coaches. A woman I know has made a career of marrying them. I’ve never gone that far, but I’m in the neighborhood. A few years ago, Jim Foster, who coached Vanderbilt’s women’s basketball team to the Final Four in 1993, gave me away at my wedding. Several family members initially questioned this. “Marshall, you have two brothers-in-law who adore you,” said one. “Not to mention three uncles. Have you thought about family?” “Marriage is a play only a coach should call,” I replied. Foster now coaches at Ohio State. We became close during his eleven-year tenure at Vanderbilt. He’s a Philly guy, and I consider my inability to convert him to our Southern way of life one of my biggest failures as a Southerner.

“Too many churches” was his terse comment upon fleeing Nashville.

Both Foster sons have since married girls from the Deep South. This fact alone has done more to strengthen my belief in a just and loving deity than all the churches in Nashville.

Read the entire article ››


Minton Sparks Catches Fire
Garden & Gun Magazine
May/June 2008

Imagine, if you will, Flannery O’Connor and the ghost of Hank Williams having an affair that results in the birth of an illegitimate child. If you’ve ever seen the movie The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, then you know this is not completely out of the realm of possibility. O’Connor and Williams were born within a year and a half of each other. They both grew up in the Deep South. And they both got around: Hank’s touring took him to juke joints all over Georgia — to Columbus, Macon, and possibly even to Milledgeville. So it could have happened. In fact, I would swear on a stack of Bibles that it did. I have seen Minton Sparks. And if she’s not the ghost child of the woman who wrote Wise Blood and the man who sang “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive,” then cotton doesn’t grow in a cotton field.

Read the entire article ››


High Heels And Air Rifles
Garden & Gun Magazine
Fall 2007

I was raised by a Southern family that didn’t carry guns, at least not the kind you use to shoot people. My father, of course, had a 12-gauge shotgun that he used for hunting dove and quail. When he wasn’t hunting — which was most of the time — the gun stayed unloaded and locked in its case behind coats hanging in a downstairs closet. In our world, there were no handguns in bedside drawers or car glove compartments. If you weren’t in law enforcement, to carry a handgun would mean you were either a criminal or — God forbid — a redneck.

Read the entire article ››