I want to introduce a term to you: Nashvilled. It is a multi-faceted one, full of nuance and fitting for many occasions, but to be sure, most all of these occasions will reek of cheapness and insincerity. Although the following examples all find their source actually in Nashville, i hope you'll see how this term is entirely ready for widespread use in current culture.

Let me start with a few benign uses of the word. I'll finish with the full-fledged, balls-to-the-wall, Nashvilling a friend of mine told me about this morning.

In Nashville, people in the music industry will hardly ever say anything even vaguely negative to each other. Although this penchant to never criticize most likely finds it's origins in genuine Southern politeness, it has devolved into a mode of self-preservation. For example, the guitar player may know Dixie Mae can't carry a tune in a bucket and that the only reason she got this gig is because the club owner wants in her britches, but is he gonna tell her? Hell no. Why would he want to lose himself a gig?

Sometimes the Nashvilling happens under duress and is only meant to let someone down slowly. Once, a mastering engineer was finishing up a terrible project for a rock and roll band while the lead singer stood behind him, vibrating with excitement, and pestered him for an opinion. Well, what'd'ya think? Huh? Huh? he kept asking like a demented ferret. The engineer finally judiciously responded "well, I think this project is gonna transfer to disc really well."

Sometimes being Nashvilled is done in an entirely unnecessary way. Unlike the two fairly universal situations above, in which one person is merely guilty of holding his silence and the other is forced into saying something, sometimes someone will go out of their way to offer a compliment that, upon closer examination, means "You Suck." The finest example i know of is when one guitar player says to another "Man, you've got great tone!" When someone says this to you, it's time to move back to Tulsa.

Another example, and maybe the original use of the word, is found in the following conversation between me and a friend of mine whom we'll call Sam. Sam and i were talking about another musician in town and i said:

"What do you think of that guy? He seems pretty cool."
"Well," says Sam, "i've seen him like 20 times now and he never can remember my name. Plus, when he talks to me it seems like he's always looking over my shoulder for someone more important."
"Yeah," i respond, "he's pretty Nashville."
"Yeah," Sam says back, "he was Nashvillin' me."
"Huh," i respond Beavis-style, "you got Nashvilled!"

This is where the use of Nashvilled really comes into its own as a viable member of current culture. In this day and age of high stakes, constant networking and self-promotion, what better way to describe that warm and entirely fake friendliness you experience at parties as someone has a conversation that seems directed about three inches to the right of your own head?

And here, finally, is probably the embodiment of the term in all its vile glory. This is the story Sam (in Nashville) told me about his girlfriend just this morning (names and precise details changed to protect the innocent):

Betty is upset. Sandra--you know her, she's one of our best friends--had invited Betty to do a few songs at the "WestEnd Coffee House Night" that Sandra was putting on at the Broadway Methodist church. She'd asked Betty to do it with her because Sandra was kind of nervous to do it by herself. Well, Betty was all excited about getting back out and everything and now Sandra has sorta uninvited her because a bunch of other more big name songwriters have started to express an interest in coming down. Man, Betty just feels so Nashvilled.

What are we to do when the stakes at the local church coffee house are so high that we're willing to sacrifice a friendship over it? I guess it's Nashville or be Nashvilled in this day an age.


Kenneth said...

I feel a "too good for radio" song coming on.

Biffle said...

get to it. i gave that writin' stuff up for lent.