“Between the idea and the reality falls the shadow,” T.S. Eliot once wrote.
For all we know, the poet could’ve been talking about the artistic process, that is to say, the distance between the inspiration for a work and the finished product.
A new exhibit at the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame — “The Evolution Of A Great Song” — seeks to document that journey.
“We wanted to give visitors insight into what a song looks like when the idea is first born and put to paper, long before it gets on the radio,” said Layng Martine, Jr., a board member for the NaSHOF.
The exhibit, which is located in the Music City Center, features memorabilia and lyric drafts from Hall of Fame members Bill Anderson, Bobby Braddock, Paul Craft, Tom Douglas, Dallas Frazier, Dickey Lee, Richard Leigh, Layng Martine Jr., Hugh Prestwood, Curly Putman, Johnny Russell, Allen Shamblin and Hank Williams.
“I was fascinated to see the creative process as it developed in manuscript form of some of my favorite songs,” said Pat Alger, board chairman of the Nashville Songwriters Foundation. “Lyrics that seem so perfect when we heard the finished product often took a long and winding journey to get there. Every fan of songwriting will be interested in this display.”
The exhibit is located in the Hall of Fame Gallery on the first floor of the MCC (201 5th Avenue South) at the corner of Demonbreun St. and 6th Ave. S. In addition to the new exhibit, the gallery features interactive touch screens that allow visitors to access audio, video and other digital information about the history of Nashville songwriting and members of the Hall of Fame.