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Nashville

Bourdain’s Field Notes

We’ve done a few music-centric episodes, but this one is epic.

Nashville is changing fast. About a hundred people a day are moving to the city for reasons that will become obvious when you watch the show we made there.
Chefs and restaurateurs in particular are finding the city attractive. There’s a gold rush of talented operators setting up shop, eager to take advantage of relatively reasonable rents, a good economic climate, and a welcoming public. So far, born and bred Nashvillians have greeted the torrent of carpetbaggers from the North with open arms.

We originally intended to do a show about that. Nashville may be Music City, but we thought, perversely, that it would be interesting to be the one show to ever visit the city and NOT cover the music scene. Especially country music. Everybody features country music in Nashville, I figured, so no way.

But then a couple of things happened. A casual conversation led me to Third Man Records, where they introduced us to Margo Price: a country music artist who reminded us what country music really is, should be, and—simply by virtue of playing—how far much of the rest of the country-music industry has wandered from its roots.

Her songs ain’t pop tunes with a cowboy hat. They’re coming at you from the same barroom floor, busted car, and broken heart where Hank Williams, George Jones, and Johnny Cash bared their souls. Real deal. And we were lucky enough to spend time with her and capture her music just as the rest of the world was catching on to how great she is.

The other thing that happened was Alison Mosshart. Alison is one of the absolute best singer-songwriters in rock-and-roll and one of the hardest working.
She’s been touring and recording and touring again almost nonstop since she was 16 years old. She’s recorded with just about … everybody, but most times these days as half of the band the Kills, with Jamie Hince. And with Jack White, Dean Fertita, and Jack Lawrence in the Dead Weather.

If any “guest” on our show should ever get a producer credit, it’s Alison. She single-handedly wrangled, coerced, cajoled, and organized appearances by both the Kills and the Dead Weather—a logistical feat on par with the invasion of Normandy.

She opened her Nashville home, Disgraceland, to us, our crew, and an army of invited guests. She dragooned her brother, Matthew, a talented chef, into catering this unruly affair. She also let us rig up her beloved Dodge Challenger, the Black Shark, and drove us around town.

She liquored us up on fine tequila, made sure that I and every member of my crew had an awesome time in Nashville and that we would—all of us—wake up with unexplained bruises and Mosshart-designed tattoos.

No one has ever been nicer or more awesome.

In the end, my crew took casualties. We limped back to New York damaged but happy—and with a truly once-in-a-lifetime show in our memory cards.

This is a woefully inadequate thank-you.

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