TV Review: Nashville

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     I went on a terrible date last week. If you could harness our total lack of connection into a turbine, you could have powered the whole bar. One of the worst disappointments was when she told me, in quick succession, that she had lived in Nashville and that she didn’t watch television. I was all ready to start gushing about Nashville on ABC, but my words died on the vine, and I suffered through a rocky series of abortive conversation and awkward silence until we both scurried from the bar, relieved it was over. Then, I went home and made cookies and you damn well better believe I watched Nashville.      One obvious bridge to Nashville is Friday Night Lights; while Nashville doesn’t rise to that show’s level (nor is it meant to), they both...

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Music Review: Blown Away...

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     American Idol is a behemoth, and an enduringly and particularly popular one in the South. Without American Idol, pop culture would be missing a lot of things: the explosion of televised singing competitions (Glee included), the song “Since U Been Gone,” Simon Cowell as an American-recognizable brand, Jennifer Hudson, and a particularly distinctive big-gunned singing style that’s defined American pop music for the last decade. And, of course, Oklahoma’s Carrie Marie Underwood. She’s one of the biggest names in country music; she’s hosted the CMAs with Brad Paisley more consecutive times than anyone else who isn’t named Vince Gill, she’s got three multiple platinum records, and here’s her sure-to-bestsell fourth, Blown Away. This is more weapons-grade pop country, make no mistake, but a surprisingly relatively moody and restrained collection.      The opener and...

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The Vault: Nashville (1975)...

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      In the realm of pop culture, the South tends to get a rather bum rap. When I mentioned to friends of mine that I was working for a Southern culture magazine, most of them started laughing and asked if I’d be writing about Deliverance every month. It feels that no matter how much I trumpet about the sheer beauty of Breece D’J Pancake’s short stories or the stark, cold magic of Winter’s Bone, people still have these stereotypical images of wackadoo accents, guns and God. The purpose of the Drawl Vault is to highlight areas of Southern pop culture that people may not have experienced. Our first nomination to The Drawl Vault is the 1975 Robert Altman film Nashville.     Nashville is a wide-ranging, glorious mess that takes a look at humanity...

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