Nashville is my very favorite city. I loved living there. I visit as often as I can. It just sparks the creative process for me in a way that no other place can. It’s the perfect mix of small-town and big-city. Trends arrive there about a year after they hit Brooklyn, and a good 18 months before they make it to Louisville — just in time for me to have a firm opinion on them!
Because I love Nashville so very much, i spent a good chunk of last autumn waiting for the release of Nashville: Scenes from the New American South by Heidi Ross and Ann Patchett. Of course, I waited to purchase it from Parnassus Books, author Ann Patchett’s bookstore, on my annual Christmas shopping trip to the Music City. I wanted a signed copy, of course, and I never pass up an opportunity to visit Parnassus.
If you love any aspect of Nashville — the music scene, the meat and threes, the history, or anything else — then you’ll love this coffee table book. The foreword by journalist/Presidential biographer Jon Meacham touches on the city’s role in the civil rights movement, popular culture, and Southern life. Ann Patchett’s accompanying essay intersperses these themes with her own experiences of growing up in 1960s Nashville. While I never miss a chance to read what either of these folks have to say, the true star of this work is the stunning visual spread of Heidi Ross’s photographs. You’ll see everything you love about Nashville in this work. The Nashville I love — the Pancake Pantry line, musicians like Margo Price and Sturgill Simpson, the iconic hot chicken restaurants — is well-represented. So are everyday sights like high school cheerleaders and street musicians, art galleries and parks, diners and farmers’ markets. It’s a gorgeous reminder that Nashville is far more than the Disney-like strip of celebrity-inspired bars and bachelorette parties offered on SoBro. If you love Nashville, you’ll love this book.