How High’s The Water Mama? – Flood And Treasure Swept Away In Music City

I was struck by a story by Randy Lewis, in today’s LA Times, (http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/music/la-et-nashville-flood-20100514,0,7376955.story) just as in New Orleans, the hidden cost of the recent flood in Nashville may be the loss of priceless musical instruments and recording facilities, which has claimed the gear of the everyday joe musician and the famous alike.

The big names affected, according to Lewis, were folks like the Who’s Pete Townshend (who had stuff stored there) and Nasvhillians Vince Gill, Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley and Keith Urban (who report having lost most of their stuff) a . The flood even affected the stars of the past, with gear belonging to both and Johnny Cash submerged for just under one week.

Most of this occured in just one warehouse, Soundcheck Nashville, a 160,000 square foot space that is both the rehearsal hall and storage facility of choice for over 1,000 musicians, making it, in the words of Randy Lewis, “something of the Fort Knox to the city’s music community.”

Here’s a really sad clip from Lorrie Morgan, on her way to Soundcheck to see what happened to her own stuff…

Lewis spoke to Joe Chambers, founder of the newly opened Musicians Hall of Fame, who sagely points out that gear, no matter how priceless, is still not the same as losing one’s life. “So many people lost the pillow they lay their head on at night,” Chambers tells Lewis, “much less a guitar. But the fact is, a lot of historical instruments were stored at Soundcheck.”

Two basses, once belonging to Opry bass player Lightning Chance, were lost, including the one Chance used on Hank William’s “Your  Cheatin’ Heart.”

Lewis also speaks to a member of Vince Gill’s band who lamented on behalf of non-famous, rank and file, guitar pickers who had invested in their vintage gear the way Manhattan folks invest in the stock market (in fact, he says, the guitars appreciate far better than stocks!) only to see their investments washed away, biblically, in the Cumberland river waters.”

Lots of people are helping, and help is always welcome.

Jack White of the White Stripes is auctioning off this marimba!

The Nashville Musicians Union has set up a fund and is soliciting donations to help musicians get their gear replaced and keep working. The Recording Academy MusiCares program is also doing something to help. And there’s always the Red Cross, http://www.nashvilleredcross.org

Somehow it seems appropriate to go out with a little Johnny Cash…

Five Feet High And Rising by Johnny Cash

My mama always taught me that good things come from adversity if we put our faith in the Lord.

We couldn’t see much good in the flood waters when they

were causing us to have to leave home,

But when the water went down, we found that it had washed a load of rich black bottom dirt across our land.

The following year we had the best cotton crop we’d ever had.

I remember hearing:

How high’s the water, mama?

Two feet high and risin’

How high’s the water, papa?

Two feet high and risin’

We can make it to the road in a homemade boat

That’s the only thing we got left that’ll float

It’s already over all the wheat and the oats,

Two feet high and risin’

How high’s the water, mama?

Three feet high and risin’

How high’s the water, papa?

Three feet high and risin’

Well, the hives are gone,

I’ve lost my bees

The chickens are sleepin’

In the willow trees

Cow’s in water up past her knees,

Three feet high and risin’

How high’s the water, mama?

Four feet high and risin’

How high’s the water, papa?

Four feet high and risin’

Hey, come look through the window pane,

The bus is comin’, gonna take us to the train

Looks like we’ll be blessed with a little more rain,

4 feet high and risin’

How high’s the water, mama?

Five feet high and risin’

How high’s the water, papa?

Five feet high and risin’

Well, the rails are washed out north of town

We gotta head for higher ground

We can’t come back till the water comes down,

Five feet high and risin’

Well, it’s five feet high and risin’

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One Response to “How High’s The Water Mama? – Flood And Treasure Swept Away In Music City”

  1. musical instruments…

    […]How High’s The Water Mama? – Flood And Treasure Swept Away In Music City « The Pulmyears Music Blog[…]…

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