USA Travel Blog #2
Exploring Nashville & Striking a Chord with Josh Morningstar
September 9-10: Exploring Nashvilles charms
September 9 and 10 were pretty chill, my sleep still wasn’t that great, so taking it slow felt like the right way to go.
I learned something interesting online. In 1897, they built a big copy of a famous building from Athens called the Parthenon in Nashville. They call Nashville the “Athens of the South,” so it made sense to visit this special place. Trust me, this monumental replica is a must-see when you’re in Nashville for a few days.
Next on my list was the Frist Arts Museum. I originally wanted to go to the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, but the lines were outrageously long, so I postponed that visit and changed my plan. The Frist Art Museum is a cool-looking building that caught my eye a few days earlier when I was walking around Nashville. I didn’t do any homework on their exhibitions, but it turns out they had one about Beatrix Potter, the English writer and illustrator famous for those classic Peter Rabbit books we all know. It was a great exhibit showing work spanning her entire career, including illustrations she made as a Natural Scientist. Impressive!
My Instagram feed had been filled with posts from the Nashville Zoo for years now, so I decided to pay them a visit while in town. It turned out to be a big and impressive zoo. As luck would have it, I arrived at the Veterinary center just in time to witness the feeding of adorable newborn animals, including baby Pumas and a baby Banded Palm Civet. That’s not something you see every day!
After spending three hours at the zoo, I had some time left. I looked up some music stores in Nashville and found Guitar Center, a famous music store in the US. It was only a 20-minute drive from my hotel. They have lots of guitars – acoustic, electric, and bass guitars. You can spend a long time there just looking at them! I saw a special instrument called a Bajo Quinto, which I thought was a regular 12-string guitar. I tried playing it, but it was hard because it’s tuned differently and has 10 strings instead of 6 or 12.
After the music store visit, I went back to the hotel to pick up my guitar and write some more music. Next up was a big day because I was going to meet one of my musical idols, Josh Morningstar, who’s a singer and songwriter living in Tennessee. He wrote a lot of songs for both himself and a couple of famous artists like Cody Jinks, whose song “Must Be The Whiskey” recently became really popular.
September 11: A Musical Encounter With Josh Morningstar
“I wake up too early, it is 4 AM again”, just kidding. I woke up around 7 AM. I was stoked because I was going to write songs with Josh Morningstar, who I admire a lot. I played some music in my hotel room and got ready for an Uber ride to East Nashville.
Josh told me to meet him at The Purple Building, which is Todd Snider’s rehearsal place. Todd Snider, a music legend since 1994, had even streamed live performances from the same place during the pandemic.
I got to The Purple Building a bit early, and Josh arrived shortly after. We had to wait for the building to open, so we talked about music, Nashville, and where I come from.
When we finally got inside, we took out our laptops. Josh asked, “Where should we start?” I had a song that was nearly complete but felt like it needed a little something extra. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, so I picked up the guitar and played and sang it for Josh. After hearing it, he thought the song was great as it was and didn’t need much tweaking. We both agreed it could benefit from a bridge, though, to tie it all together. So, we dove into the lyrics, made a minor adjustment or two in the final verse for smoother flow, and brainstormed ideas for the bridge. Having your musical hero work on one of your songs and sing your lyrics – it was truly surreal.
We collaborated on the bridge, and soon, we were jamming out the song. We even managed to capture a snippet on video – check it out below!
After finishing up the first song we had some time left so he asked me if I had more lyrics to work on. I had just started working on a song about the experience of playing music in Nashville, being a bit overwhelmed and just being a foreigner/outcast in a different place. I had two verses and a loosely formulated chorus which I then played for Josh.
It was a promising start! Josh has written tons of fantastic songs throughout the years and it was amazing to experience his songwriting process as well.
He liked it, and before we knew it the chorus was complete! Next, we worked on the final verses and chorus. This song didn’t seem to need a bridge, as the verses themselves painted a great story. We delved into my journey into songwriting, an interesting fact being that I began writing lyrics after my divorce in 2019. My life experiences seamlessly blended with the Nashville story we were creating, adding a personal touch.
Afterward, we recorded an audio version of Josh performing our song, a valuable recording for future reference.
Time flew by as we dove in the creative process. After writing two songs, the day was almost over. We talked about how Josh came up with some of his songs and how I love playing “Jerry Lee,” a song he wrote. We also reminisced about our first online encounter when Cody Jinks released “Must Be the Whiskey,” the song Josh wrote.
After saying goodbye, I was still amazed by what happened that day. I went to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum but couldn’t get in because I had a guitar case with me. I felt a little disappointed, but I brushed it off, had dinner, and a beer. Then I took an Uber back to the hotel and told everyone about my incredible day.
Even as I write this blog, it’s hard to find the right words.It was a dream come true, plain and simple, and I’m already thinking about finding a recording studio in the US to complete the experience. But I’ll talk more about that later.
In the next blog, I’ll share more about my last days in Nashville, meeting a music friend that I met on Instagram in person, and my journey to Atlanta.
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