The Grand Ole Opry

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Nothing is more associated with Tennessee than country music, and nothing is more associated with country music than the Grand Ole Opry.  Many southerners grew up on a steady diet of country music and love it.  Others have an attitude that seems to vary from being perplexed to indifference to hatred.

A joke about country music among newcomers to the Nashville area is, “If you live here long enough, you’ll get to where you can almost stand it!” This author was among those who thought it unsophisticated and hated it until, after suffering a personal loss, I had the radio on in the car and was shocked to hear the singer voicing my feelings exactly. That is the way it is with country music.  It speaks to the soul.

Whether you love it or hate it, no trip to Tennessee or Nashville would be complete without a visit to the Grand Ole Opry, rightly billed as the “shrine of country music.”  This is the long standing variety show where older country stars got their beginning. Even now, some of the biggest names in entertainment are associated with The Opry and perform there.  The show has become legendary and several shows are performed in the Opry House every weekend, unrehearsed.

A visit to the Grand Ole Opry will easily show why it has reached the level of legend that has come to be associated with it. With tickets as low as $35 per seat, it is without a doubt the biggest professional entertainment bargain you will every encounter.  The Opry House itself is plain, comfortable and functional. The atmosphere is casual, more like a ball game or movie than a live stage performance.

People munch on popcorn and watch the three-hour show, which is almost continuous with only brief pauses of a few minutes.  Fans leave their seats and walk forward to the stage to snap pictures of favorite stars. Yet, there is no chaos, but complete order and almost an awe of what is going on. The performers and audience alike seem to be caught up in the nostalgic aspects and enjoy being a part of history, something somehow greater than any one performance.

When attending it is necessary to “let go” and get into the spirit of the music to enjoy it. It is folk music — music of the common folk.  The songs are about loving, lying, cheating, drinking and common life.  It is interspersed with unsophisticated comedy acts, a bit of dancing for variety, and toe-tapping, fiddle and banjo playing.

When you make a reservation for the Opry, you never know who will be performing.  The lineup is announced Wednesday prior to the show.  Probably the most interesting aspect of the whole thing is that it is live on the radio, and live radio commercials can be heard by the audience and seem to tie the various parts of the show together. Part of the show is also carried live on cable television. The cameras are there filming and monitors show the audience what the television audience is seeing. It is truly amazing how everything continues to flow and the show goes on without interruption.

Why is it called the Grand Ole Opry?  It seems that way back in the 20’s when the show first began, it followed a radio show of classical music. The announcer made a crack about the Grand Opera being followed by the Grand Ole Opry and the name stuck.  It is, of course, about as far from opera as music can get.

Nashville is now a cosmopolitan southern city with live theater, an orchestra, and a ballet.  But the roots of southerners and of Tennessee and the heritage for which they will probably always most be known, is still the music of the common folk, country music.

©1999 Sheila Moss

About Sheila Moss

My stories are about daily life and the funny things that happen to all of us. My columns have been published in numerous newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and websites.
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17 Responses to The Grand Ole Opry

  1. fearlessgirl2016 says:

    Love your blog !!! I’ve been obsessed with the TV show Nashville and the place for a very long time. I love country music although it’s “uncool” amongst my friends to like it. I have got some songs and poems from the TV show on my blog . Would love to know what you think….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OK. Maybe a little Greek drama: Aeschylus, Sophocles ,Euripides.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. “cosmopolitan southern city with live theater, an orchestra, and a ballet.”

    Yuk. Not for my pedestrian blue collar taste(or lack of). Now arts and crafts festivals just might make me hop on a Greyhound bus…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sheila Moss says:

      I’m writing about such a festival this week. Unfortunately, it is over already. I’m not really doing a commercial, LOL, it is just something to write about. I’m not much on musical arts either, but I do enjoy performing arts if I can afford a ticket.


  4. Peyton says:

    Love the old country music. A trip to the Opry is on my bucket list.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. sniderjerry says:

    I love country music, great writers, great entertainers.
    My mother-in-law went to school with Tom T. Hall.
    The most charismatic singer I ever saw was Johnny Cash.
    And my big claim to fame – in 1987 I was a contestant on the Country music game show called Fandango – filmed right there in Nashville with host Bill Anderson.
    What fun…Yeee Haw!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sheila Moss says:

      Ha, you made me LOL for real. Some of the old singers were giants in the field. Country music has changed a lot, but I supposed it has to stay relative to what people like today. I’ve not been to the Opry in a long while. People who live here don’t do the tourist things.


    • Sheila Moss says:

      LOL, pretty funny comment. I’ve not been to the Opry in a long while. People who live here don’t do touristy stuff. Strange how that works.


  6. I attended a performance when I visited Nashville. I loved it but I do love country music. I also loved Memphis as a music mecca too.

    Liked by 1 person

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