People across the nation’s midsection have music in their blood and ice in their veins…. (More)

The Winter of Our Discontent, Part II: Slip Slidin’ Away

This week Morning Feature surrenders to winter. Yesterday we began in Massachusetts, where residents brace for yet more snow, because education. Today we see the nation’s midsection, where residents chip ice, because music. Tomorrow we’ll conclude with the Midwest, where residents wear thermal scrunchies, because history.

“A foundation built on music”

Nashville prides itself as Music City, and for good reason. The very first record in the U.S., Ugg McUgg’s “She Done Took My Mammoth,” was made there in 12,056 BCE. Alas, it was recorded on a disk of ice and melted at the end of the Ice Age – the refrigerator had not yet been invented – so you can no longer hear the plaintive ballad of the caveman whose wife caught him with his mistress and left with his pickyderm. As if the heartbreak could get no worse, he had just tied torches to its tusks to make the first light bar.

And the real history is pretty cool too:

From its very beginnings, Nashville grew from a foundation built on music. Music has been the common thread connecting the life and soul of the city and its people. And visitors have ventured here to experience the music that weaves such a fundamental pattern in its cultural, business and social fabric.
Nashville’s earliest settlers celebrated in the late 1700s with fiddle tunes and buck dancing after safely disembarking on the shores of the Cumberland River, a spot now commemorated on First Avenue North with a replica of the original Fort Nashborough. Nashville’s first “celebrity,” the noted frontiersman and Congressman Davy Crockett was known far and wide for his colorful stories and fiddle playing.

“I mean, it almost shook my car”

Now that foundation of music is causing problems for the city’s roadways:

All the freezing and thawing has caused a big problem on roads across middle Tennessee, as some huge potholes have shown up.
“That pothole that I hit, that was real bad,” said Philip Madison. “I mean, it almost shook my car, I thought my windows were getting ready to break, it hit so hard.”
Michael Good with West Nashville Wrecker Service also warned about the potholes on area roads in the coming days.

“If you hit a pothole at 60 miles an hour, you’re going to break a tire, and in some cars, you’ll pull a bumper off, and maybe break a radiator,” Good said.

Is it just me, or should that be set to music?

I thought my windows were gettin’ ready to break,
It almost shook my car and made me ache,
You’ll pull a bumper off and pop a tire,
As your radiator cracks at sixty miles an ‘ire.

I got the pothole, oh yeah I got the pothole blu-hoos….

“I was sent there for a reason”

Of course not all country songs are sad. Some are downright beautiful:

The rural Williamson County road Keith Sheldon explored Friday morning is rarely traveled save for construction workers and those who are lost, like Patricia Madden was.

As Sheldon snapped photos of the storm’s glistening damage, he found an abandoned car in a ditch outside Franklin. Then his eyes discovered a woman huddled on the ground, her brown jacket frozen to the earth.

She “looked just like the dirt,” Sheldon told WKRN-TV.
“I walked over to her and when I got next to her, she opened her eyes,” Sheldon said.

“I was sent there for a reason.”

I bet Nashville stars Luke Bryan and Lori Stegner could turn that story into a heartstring-tugging duet:

LORI: I was so lost
LORI: It was so cold
LUKE: You opened your eyes
LUKE: And then I took hold
LORI: In the depth of the season,
LUKE: I was sent for a reason.

Pop the glowsticks and pass the tissues.

“It’s very difficult to compare one disaster to another”

Alas, not everyone waxes lyrical:

When the winter weather pummeling the region prompted Gov. Bill Haslam to declare a major disaster Saturday, bumping up the state of emergency in Tennessee to Level 2, it may have left residents wondering how this storm stacks up against other weather events in the state’s history.

But that’s sort of a tough question to answer, said Tennessee Emergency Management Agency spokesman Dean Flener.

“It’s very difficult to compare one disaster to another,” he said.
And the state of emergency level reflects more of an accumulation of costly damage – debris to be cleared from roads, power outages – than specific conditions in the moment.

“It communicates the level of response not only to the public but also to federal agencies, other state agencies – just how seriously everybody up and down the chain needs to be taking this incident,” he said.

I’m sure Flener is very good at his job, but his words would need a heavy rewrite to top the charts:

That ice sure looks thicker, but it’s hard to compare,
Disaster to disaster, we all have to care,
Up’n down that big chain, the lev’l of response,
Will get us all through, at least for the nonce.

Umm, yeah. Not so much.

So if you’re thinking like Marc Cohn …

… try not to imitate Simon & Garfunkel:


Happy Friday!