There’s a cool museum in Nashville with exhibits and memorabilia from the life of the Man in Black, Johnny Cash. Oh, and a bunch of other people, too. The Country Music Hall of Fame is worth a visit no matter how much (or how little) you enjoy country music. They even have part of the set from Hee Haw!
I’m not what you would call a diehard country music fan, but I definitely love the classic artists – Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Kenny Rogers, Reba McEntire – and a number of modern acts as well, like Alison Krauss, Taylor Swift and Blake Shelton.
Back on my cross-country road trip in 2009, I had hoped to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, but as I was on a restrictive $5/day spending limit, the museum’s $20 admission price wasn’t in my budget.
This time around, I wasn’t going to miss out, and thanks to Visit Music City, I was able to see both the museum and RCA Studio B, a legendary recording studio that offers a separate tour which can be purchased at the museum. More on the studio tour later this month.
Sights from the Country Music Hall of Fame
The Hall of Fame welcomes non-flash photography, so I’m able to share with you a number of the sights from this hallowed institution. This place is huge – bigger than the Grammy Museum and bigger than just about every music facility I’ve been to except for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
That thing in the middle that looks like a dinner plate is actually a 78 speed vinyl record from 1946 of a Patsy Montana song.
A collection of Chet Atkins records in a special temporary exhibit dedicated to the 14-time Grammy winner.
This is very cool – a pair of blue suede shoes worn by Carl Perkins, who had a hit with that iconic song. Next to the shoes is a very old short worn by rock & roll icon Jerry Lee Lewis, who was also honored at Sun Studio in Memphis.
The museum houses a “gold Cadillac” and a “gold piano,” both from Elvis Presley. The Cadillac has gold plate highlights and was painted in a mixture of crushed diamonds and fish scales called “diamond dust pearl.” The interior had a record player and a tv, which were almost unheard of back then.
I love this display of old-timey instruments like The Whomper!, which appears to be the world’s largest banjo, and a triple-necked stringed instrument.
The cornfield set from Hee Haw, live and in-person. Bonus points to everyone who remembers that show.
Smaller exhibits focus on current artists like Taylor Swift.
Another exhibit includes the handwritten lyrics to Miranda Lambert’s “White Liar.” Her writing is so girly!
Personal, handwritten items are one of the coolest things any music museum can display. The Hall of Fame also has Merle Haggard handwritten lyrics. I wish they had even more of these original lyric sheets because they’re fascinating to see.
Here’s my favorite handwritten item in the museum – a set list to a 1994 Johnny Cash concert written by the Man in Black himself.
Here’s eleven Grammy Awards in one place, all won by Roger Miller in 1964 and 1965.
The massive wall of gold records is a fun sight.
On the other side of the gold records wall is another endless collection of records.
For some reason, I was really happy to see this poster of Eddie Rabbitt alongside other ‘80s and ’90s hitmakers like Lee Greenwood and Billy Ray Cyrus. Go Eddie! I love a rainy night!
Clothing from legends Tammy Wynette and George Jones inside a display case.
I went through the entire Hall wondering why the inductees didn’t seem to have their own busts, like most museums. It turns out the individual plaques are in the final room.
About the only thing missing from the museum was a listening station where you could hear music by the inducted artists. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has those, and I’ve literally spent hours there standing and enjoying artists’ entire catalogs of work. The Country Music Hall should really incorporate something like that, so we can actually listen to the music of the people who are being honored.
Otherwise, I thought the Country Music Hall of Fame was an outstanding facility with great memorabilia and lots of memories.
I was a guest of Visit Music City at the Country Music Hall of Fame.