Beyond Words
(from October issue of Nashville Arts Magazine)
By Marshall Chapman

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.

This lasted about a week.

I looked at my calendar. “Oh, my God, I’ve got a gig!” Time to rise up out of my funk and shine.

And not just any gig. This was Music City Roots, the syndicated radio show that broadcasts live every Wednesday from the Loveless Cafe Barn. They were having a special show to honor my book. I was scheduled to perform, along with Mary Gauthier, Don Henry, and Rodney Crowell. There were email messages from old friends like Danny Flowers, saying they’d be there. A text message from Mickey Raphael. A rumor Bobby Bare might show up.

I was thinking I’d have to write the script for the show, but no, it was all taken care of. The script was written. Jim Lauderdale would be at his post as MC along with seasoned radio announcer, Keith Bilbrey. Craig Havighurst would interview us between sets. Our set times were set. This train was stoked and ready to pull out of the station. All I had to do was get on board.

“But what if Bare shows up?” I asked.

“Don’t worry, Marshall. We’ll take care of him if he does.”

As it turned out, Bare did indeed show up. As did a lot of other longtime friends like Virginia Team, who rarely comes to town any more. And Gary Nicholson who sang with us in the finale. And Danny Flowers who accompanied Bare during his set. And Bill Lloyd who accompanied Don Henry. One of my favorite moments was sitting onstage with Bobby Bare, watching him watch Mary Gauthier while she sang “Mercy Now.” (I’ve got chills right now just thinking about it.) The Loveless Barn was packed to the rafters with people who love songs and the people who craft them.

Later I heard it was the first Music City Roots show to have scalpers out front.┬áSometimes all you have to do is shower and show up. And I’ll tell you something else: I don’t miss Mexico nearly as much as I did before.