Sunday, April 21, 2013

I Went All the Way to Nashville and All I Got Was This Elephant: RSD 2013

I wondered if I was even going to write a blog post about my trip to Third Man Records in Nashville for Record Store Day. I originally decided that I was not. After all, I don’t have anything particularly exciting to report. There were no (personal) Jack White sightings, no surprise performances, no parties into the night (for me), no special unannounced releases. In fact, there was a lot of standing, a lot of waiting, and much more napping than I usually get in over a week-end. I overheard someone in line say something that made me chuckle, “I am standing in a ridiculously long line, in the cold, at the crack of dawn, to pay $30 for a record that I already own.” I could just add that I bought a plane ticket to get here so I could do it. So what is there to write about? That I am crazy?

I wrote a blog post before the trip about my apprehension about it. The initial excitement of actually going to Nashville for Record Store Day, something that I have wanted to do for years, wore off rather quickly when the reality of the situation set in. I am essentially going on a trip by myself to (hopefully) hang out with people I know only in an online world. This is not like me. I was nervous that the friendships would be awkward, that I wouldn’t make any personal connections, or that I wouldn’t have patience or tolerance for people, or they wouldn’t have it for me. I am not a really social person outside my close circles, I generally have no interest in talking to strangers. I started to dread the trip. I was excited in theory, but I couldn’t shake my social anxieties.

When I pulled into the parking lot of Third Man Records, or more accurately, the homeless mission across the street, my heart immediately started to pump. I was so excited to be here again. This place was essentially the homeland of one my biggest passions. This is where Jack lives. I was here once before, but I had the giddiness of a school girl as I parked my car.

Third Man Records in Nashville, TN

Before I could even cross the street, someone recognized me from our mutual online friendship and called out my name. Before I knew it I was standing in a small group of people, all of whom I knew from years of online communications about our mutual love of Jack. It felt easy and natural and I knew instantly that my fears were unfounded. Within minutes I felt comfortable, like I was hanging out with old friends, in fact these were old friends, people I have known in a certain capacity for years. In my anxiety I had convinced myself that these people were strangers, when in fact, we have been following each others lives online for years. It is a reality of our modern lives, I had formed real connections with people I knew online, I just hadn’t classified it that way in my mind, because it seemed strange to say that I was friends with someone I had never met in person. I proved myself wrong.

The one thing that really stood out to me that first afternoon in the parking lot in front of Third Man Records is that there was absolutely no pretension among fans. I was standing with a small group of people that included men and women, teenagers to adults (am I an adult? No not yet, I don’t think) of different races, ages, and backgrounds, all bonding on a mutual love of music and Third Man Records. Kindred spirits with likely not much in common other than our passionate love of music, and that was all we needed.

I went into the tiny crowded store and resisted the great urge to buy one of everything that was available for sale. I bought a slip mat, a magnet, and a couple of tokens to make an Airline guitar mold in the Third Man Novelty Shop.

Who wouldn't want a wax mold Airline guitar?

While I had friends who had tents set up affectionately known as “Tent City” or “Tent Yorba” in prime position to be the first people through the doors on Record Store Day, I ultimately was too unprepared for a night of sleeping on a sidewalk. While others had cold weather gear, sleeping bags, pillows, chairs, and tents, I had not much more than the lightweight sweatshirt. After considering the overnight weather forecast, I decided it was either too cold, or I was too old, for sidewalk camping. I planned to sleep in the comfort my warm hotel room and head back down at 5am to stake out a place in line.  I'd have to take my chances that I would still get a record.

In 2011 in LA I had met this awesome couple waiting in line at a Wanda Jackson show (featuring Jack White on guitar, of course) and had remained friends via Facebook these last couple years. When I announced on Facebook that I would be going to Nashville, I was excited to hear that they planned on going too. They were driving in from Kentucky, and we made plans to meet for a late dinner downtown Nashville on Friday night.

Me and my old friend. :)
We spent the evening rehashing our Jack White encounters, discussing our concert experiences, weighing the odds of laying our eyes (or ears) on Jack tomorrow. It was just like we were long-time, old friends reuniting, although we had actually only met once before on a chance encounter.

We arrived around 5:30am to claim our place in a line that was already to the end of the street, wrapped around the corner, almost to the next block, filled with mostly sleeping campers in their tents or sleeping bags.

I’ll spare you most of the details of the next eight hours, because it was a lot of standing, sitting, waiting, moving, not moving, wondering why we were not moving faster. We forged new friendships with all the people around us in line, all while listening to acoustic versions of our favorite Jack songs performed by fellow fans around us.

This is the line behind me after about six hours
Entertaining ourselves on the street
Eight hours after I first stood in that line, I turned over my credit card in exchange for a coveted copy of a limited edition colored vinyl release of the White Stripes 2003 album, Elephant. I was exhausted, but ecstatic. Mission accomplished. But was there more? I felt my trip was fully satisfied, but I couldn’t help but hope for the surprise Jack sighting or performance. Karen Elson was on stage in the infamous blue room, and I felt excited just to stand in the room where I had seen so many recorded performances (not to mention the Elephant head from Jack’s appearance on American Pickers.) Then the room starting buzzing…Brendan Benson just arrived, people reported seeing Jack’s kids get out of a SUV. Was there going to be a surprise Raconteurs appearance? Was Jack going to show his face? When asked if Jack would be taking the stage, Third Man employees responded, “I have no idea.” It really seemed like something big was going to happen…until the lights came on, and they announced that the performances were complete for the day. Thank you, come again. It felt like a letdown at the time, but honestly the buzz and the anticipation of those moments were some of the most exciting moments of the trip. It would have been nice if something would have materialized, but I wasn’t going to let it take away from the fun and success of the day.

In front of TMR
In the end, I walked away with exactly what I came for, and in the meantime, had an experience of a lifetime. I could see this becoming a yearly tradition.  

I went all the way to Nashville and all I got was this Elephant
The fruits of my labor

In closing, I will quote something one of my friends posted on Facebook after the event:

“The surprise was that after all was said and done, even though there wasn’t an “unannounced super-special record” or a Rac’s or Jack show, we still walked away fulfilled, knowing we all just had one hell of a good time, enjoying the company of our fellow music lovers…while experiencing just how bad ass TMR is, on every level…Sure, there were some employees acting coy, and occasionally giving bum information that would lead us to believe that there was something else up TMR’s sleeve, but at the end of the day, it didn’t matter. We came, we hung out, bought a bunch of kick-ass merchandise, caught some live music, and even the speculation was a blast. Best RSD @TMR ever? Hell yes…” - Ryan Muddiman

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I'm so happy that I didn't let fear keep me from this experience. Thanks to all my old and new friends who made this trip memorable, and to my husband who is so understanding and supportive of my crazy passions.


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