One of my favorite places in the world is an unaffected “listening room” just outside of downtown Nashville. Unaffected is my word. Listening room is their term. Both make this acoustic setting unexpectedly electric. And in a town enrobed with the sequined sobriquet “Nashvegas”, this 100-person platform allows a song to shimmer naturally.
My first time at The Bluebird was in October 2004. I came to Nashville to prepare for my move here – to find a place to live, work, and perform. I went alone and was seated in a church-pew-with-a-view. I was lucky enough to be there on a night when Don Schlitz, Fred Knobloch, and Jelly Roll Johnson performed. Like a nerd, I kept my notebook (open) and pen (uncapped) in my lap – ready for moments of songwriting inspiration. I haven’t actually used any of those squiggly ideas (I haven’t been able to work “Patty isn’t loveless anymore” into a full song yet), but they’re nice mementos.
That was the night I realized my preference for a song in its raw form. Until then, I felt insecure for others to hear my music without drums and horns and strings and compression. But if a song ain’t good without its makeup on, ain’t no amount of production gonna make it perty.
The Bluebird Café is a friend to all songwriters. Do a search on You Tube, and you’ll find performances by Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, and Richard Marx. That’s just on page one. Look deeper and you will hear dozens of unknowns with songs from many genres as good as any ever written. This is reason enough for a songwriter to love The Bluebird, but here’s why we love it most. You’re not allowed to talk when someone is performing! Musicians are accustomed to being background noise to the drinkers, socializers, and shoppers of the world, but that doesn’t mean we like it. At The Bluebird, you will get shushed like a disrespectful teen at church if you talk over a songwriter’s performance. Yes!!!
But I’m sure they won’t have any trouble out of you, because the music at The Bluebird is mesmerizing. If you go to see famous performers like LeAnn Rimes or Amy Grant, their music will sound brand new. If you go to hear a songwriter not necessarily known as a performer, you might learn that you enjoy their version of a song even better than the artist who covered it. And if you go to hear an up-and-coming songwriter, you’ll be able to say with justifiable self-satisfaction, “I heard it first – live at The Bluebird” when their song makes its way to the radio.
That night in October 2004, I went back to my hotel room with CDs by Don and Fred. They remind me – of how pleased I was to discover that the writer of “When You Say Nothing At All” and “The Gambler” has a heart as big as his legend. They remind me of the four minutes of heaven I experienced when Fred sang “Which Side of the Glass” and “You Know How Women Are.” They remind me of the night when Nashville serenaded me in the cool Tennessee air outside of The Bluebird Café – and I knew I was home.
-Anita, Noted in Nashillve
If you’re going to be in the Nashville area, check them out.: http://www.bluebirdcafe.com/