Thirty years ago I spent a lot of time on Broadway (Lower Broad) in Nashville fostering my love for live music and country music. Especially at a very famous old Honky Tonk called Tootsies.
Lower Broad is much different today from when I was there in the mid-eighties. I would bravely and cautiously venture into Nashville on a Friday or Saturday night, sometimes by myself, sometimes with friends, seeking something I was never sure of. It was dirty with homeless people on the street sharing space with prostitutes and pimps and also musicians who were hoping one day to be able to get to the Grand Ole Opry. Many buildings were vacant next to the peep shows and XXX movie houses. I recall Ernest Tubbs Record Shop and a few minor store for tourists. There were a handful of bars, none of which were good places to be after dark, but I visited them all watching the characters in the crowd and listening to the live music all the time watching my back and for errant beer bottles flying through the air. The tourists tended to stay down on 2nd Avenue or Music Row back then.
In the midst of the chaos and debauchery was a little bar I became fascinated with; Tootsies Orchid Lounge. Tootsies was small, less than 25’ wide and maybe 40 or 50 feet deep, if that. It had a sticky bar with grumpy bartenders, old diner tables and non-matching chairs with ripped vinyl seats. Then men’s room had a custom-made trough and I am still not sure what you did if you needed to sit down. Continue reading From Tootsies to “Crazy Arms”