The late John Egerton and I co-edited Nashville: An American Self-Portrait, an “intentional artifact” documenting the city’s remarkable year 2000 through the work of scores of writers, photographers and other contributors. The book went to press in August 2001 and reached stores in late September. It thus became not just a multi-faceted portrayal of one of the most news-filled years in our history but also a portrait in deep detail of an American city at the moment before terrorism transformed the country.
Jim Ridley, now editor of the Nashville Scene, penned the day-by-day chronicle of the year that ran as a ribbon alongside the book’s essays, photos and art. I am posting some nuggets from that variegated ribbon as time permits.
Dec. 16—New country hitmaker Brad Paisley (“He Didn’t Have to Be”) gets an early Christmas present tonight onstage at the Grand Ole Opry. “You’ve been a good boy,” says Opry stalwart Little Jimmy Dickens, dressed in an outlandish Santa getup with Jeannie Seely as Mrs. Claus. At center stage, they are joined by Opry legend Bill Anderson, who asks Paisley before the crowd if he would like to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Paisley, 28, whose unfashionable reverence for the honor is genuine, is so overcome that he bows his head and weeps. He will be officially inducted in February.
Dec. 17—As the Christmas shopping season enters its final week, lines just to park at the new Opry Mills shopping complex sometimes wind onto Briley Parkway. But Gaylord’s gold mine is sending other nearby retailers down the shaft. Across from the Opryland Hotel, The Tennessean reports, business on the Music Valley Drive strip of souvenir shops, nightspots, hotels and restaurants suffered when the Opryland theme park closed in 1997. But the opening of Opry Mills has sucked away much of the remaining tourist trade, emptying the once-booming Factory Stores of America outlet mall and leading to the closure of at least two restaurants.