Photographer's Note

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, in Nashville Tennessee, explores the vibrant and interesting history of country music in the United States, from its roots in the Appalachian folk songs of Scotch-Irish immigrants to the US, to its current place as an economic powerhouse within the music industry.

This shot is of the museum's rotunda, where the actual Hall of Fame is located. Surrounding the room are plaques honoring the great artists of country music's past (and, in a few cases, present). In the center of the room, coming down from the ceiling, is an inverted radio tower; there is also one atop the building at that very spot. This, I assume, shows the very central place of radio in the emergence of country music as a form in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

The words around the walls read 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken', a reference to an old Christian hymn from the turn of the 20th century which has become one of country music's most covered songs. One of the oldest - and I still think the best - is the Carter Family's recording of the song from 1935. It is a reworking of the original, with different lyrics, giving the song a mournful theme and sound. The title, in their version, becomes 'Can the Circle Be Unbroken'.

The Carter Family is one of the most important and influential country music acts in history. Generally classified more as Appalachian or Hillbilly music, the Carters became the first family of country music; deeply rooted in gospel, they emerged a a radio hit just before the Great Depression, and continued recording into the 1950s. The youngest daughter of the Carter Family, June, went on to marry Johnny Cash

The lyrics to 'Can The Circle Be Unbroken?' are below, and the link will take you to Grooveshark to hear the original.

Can The Circle Be Unbroken?, The Carter Family, 1935

I was standing by the window
On one cold and cloudy day
And I saw the hearse come rolling
For to carry my mother away

Can the circle be unbroken
Bye and bye, Lord, bye and bye
There's a better home a-waiting
In the sky, Lord, in the sky

Lord, I told the undertaker
Undertaker, please drive slow
For this body you are hauling
How I hate to see her go

I followed close beside her
Tried to hold up and be brave
But I could not hide my sorrow
When they laid her in the grave

Went back home
Lord my home was lonesome
All my brothers sisters crying
What a home so sad and lone

This is my last shot from Nashville itself for now; next, into Alabama and then on to Memphis!

Larger version on Flickr, here.

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Additional Photos by Andrew Lipsett (ACL1978) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 884 W: 75 N: 1695] (7511)
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