Even better than the STAX museum in Memphis however, is the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. I had friends in Nashville give me the whole rap about… “You don’t have to even know the music to love the museum”…to which I rolled my eyes, but it’s actually true. The CMH integrates music so beautifully in the museum. It could be an utter disaster in there musically, with listening stations bleeding into each other until it’s just a cacophony of noise. But through the intelligent uses of curled Nautilus shell shaped listening booths that control the sound yet still allow the listener to hear what they’ve chosen, the CMH is a model of keeping the music nearby yet allowing folks to look at cases of artifacts and talk among themselves without being blown out by music playing.

Again some highlights:

In one section they had six interactive screens devoted to “The Songwriters Craft,” which I thought was putting the emphasis in the right place although Miss Emmylou Harris, whose quote is splashed across one wall said it best: “The way to study it is to put it on the stereo and turn it up as loud as you can.”

A Williams Family exhibit was fascinating. I had no idea Hank was treated by a “self–described addiction therapist” before he died, who prescribed the Chloral Hydrate that, along with morphine and beer, killed the poor man in the back seat of his Cadillac in Oak Hill, W.V. on New Years Day, 1953. I loved the newspaper clipping about his death that were up on the wall, one of which, from his home state of Alabama asserted tests performed on his body found, “No indications of narcotics or other drugs.” Amongst the many cases of stuff that belonged to Hank was his liquor cabinet which I thought was very apropos.

In the actual rotunda that is the Hall of Fame it’s interesting to see who’s in and who’s not. I have to commend the powers that be there for keeping out useless pop assholes like Reba and Garth while inducting true engineering/producing pioneers like Ken Nelson and Owen Bradley. Vince Gill and George Strait are about as contemporary as the choices have gotten so far. Everyone who knows the music has a bitch about who’s not in so here are two of mine: Wynn Stewart and Tommy Collins, two of the greatest stars of California country music.