Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Battle of Nashville, Burning Bridges, and Chely's New Music

"View from Capitol"
Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville wasn't thinking much about country music 151 years ago. Although September of 1864 was a relatively quiet four weeks in the American Civil War, Nashville sensed this was the eerie quiet before the storm.

To the south, Union General William T. Sherman (a resident of St. Louis, Missouri and celebrated sociopath) had vanquished Atlanta and it's environs--in eight more weeks he would strike out on his March to the Sea, leaving a mile-wide scar across Georgia that partially remains visible to this day.

In May, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston had burned his own bridges in an effort to delay Sherman. It didn't work. Sherman plowed through anyway. There's a reason they named a tank after that guy.

And up in Nashville they looked at each other, wondering how to prepare for what would certainly come. Should they burn their bridges in protection? Dig trenches? Gather ammunition and materiel, or hide it? Evacuate? Capitulate? Just plain surrender?

Ultimately, they made the wrong choice. History remembers Confederate General John Bell Hood as the guy who lost the Battle of Nashville, devastating the city and claiming nearly 6,000 lives.

I'm glad I'm not Nashville. I'm glad it's not 1864, and I'm REALLY glad that nothing on my plate has the substance and consequence faced by either Johnston or Hood. I am facing my own battles, though, and certainly handling some better than others. Like Johnston, I burned a couple of my own bridges about a week ago in a reckless and unnecessary battle. Like Hood, I am guilty of nurturing a grasping, almost predatory concern for my own professional reputation. (Ridiculous. I know better than that.) And like Nashville in 1864, I am preparing for my future by choosing among options that bewilder me.

I'll move forward, one foot in front of the other. I'm not really sure what else to do. More than once, in situations like these, I have turned to Emmylou Harris' tunes for comfort and relief . (Where Could I Go But To The Lord?) This time, I find myself suspecting (truthfully, hoping) that Chely Wright's new collection of tunes will offer a similar consolation. Lifted Off The Ground adjured me to "crawl from the wreckage and walk in the sun," which is what I did. The walk has been gorgeous, and I'm still singing the anthem.

As I step into my uncertain future, I'm looking forward to new songs to sing along with. And those new songs, I just betcha, will become part of my cadence through this next season of my life.