The Critic Went Down to Nashville



Tootsies (Nathan Rabin not pictured)
I don't know about you, but I've loved reading Nashville or Bust, the series written by The A.V. Club's hip-hop critic Nathan Rabin, chronicling his dive into country music and its history. I'll say this: Probably no one has ever gotten me to read that many words about Toby Keith before. Go read them all! You probably won't be disappointed, although I wouldn't rule it out.

Of course, the natural conclusion to a series called "Nashville or Bust" is either A) Nashville or B) Bust, and luckily, Rabin made it to Music City instead of whatever would constitute Bust — Wrigley Field, perhaps? Goodness knows the guy's dealt with failure enough lately. Anyway, it's always kind of amusing to listen to a smart person who's one of your favorite writers talk about your town as a country-music tourist:

The relentless professional striving upward of the folks onstage at Tootsie’s and off gives Nashville a simultaneously hopeful and poignant energy. The air is thick with ambition, along with ambition’s running buddy, crushing disappointment.

Rabin also draws some pretty astute parallels between hip-hop culture and country music culture. (Hint: It involves diamonds.) I'm kind of bummed that he came down here the week I was unwittingly hanging out with Don Draper at SXSW — I was hoping to introduce him to hot chicken, Jim Ridley or, ideally, both. Maybe we can convince him to make a return visit. Hey Rabin, have you heard there's more than country music here? We even have hip-hop, if you can believe that.

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