Celebrity sightings in Nashville always amuse me. You see them everywhere: walking on the street, cruising through the drive through at the Cool Springs Starbucks, buying something at Target, worshipping at a local church. I’ve had a few sightings myself, most notably Dave Mustaine, who did indeed come through the drive through at Starbucks where I worked when I first moved to town. Who knew the Megadeath axe grinder liked lattes?
I hear about sightings all the time from friends and coworkers, but I think the most intriguing I’ve heard of involve Ben Folds. As most hipsters in this town know, the piano-playing crooner lives near Hillsboro Village, and is often seen at Pancake Pantry and Fido. The thing that gets me is I’ve never heard of anyone actually approaching Ben Folds in one of these sightings. One girl saw him pick up pancakes one morning, another guy saw him at a music industry party in east Nashville and a third saw him teaching his daughter to ride her tricycle. Two of those three said they would have loved to walk up and say hello, but they didn’t. So Ben Folds gets to live in quite a bit of peace in good old Nashville, as opposed to some music artists in town.
It got me thinking why that is the case. He’s a better musician than any number of well-known artists living here, but being good doesn’t equate with popularity, unfortunately. Chances are, the casual music fan (or country music fan…ugh) are going to have no clue who he is, and quite frankly, he’s a rather non-descript sort of guy who blends in with the natives of West End. In addition, I think the type of people who actually listen to Folds’ music are the sort who are beyond autographs; not in a snobby way, but in a respectful way. They intrinsically get that this is their neighbor, a guy who loves pancakes and private time to spend with his kids. He deserves time away from the public eye as much as the next person.
Now that I think about it, even popular celebrities get a certain measure of space by the locals. My church has a small entry in the corner of every bulletin mentioning the fact that celebrities come there to worship on occasion, and kindly asking people not to ask for autographs or pictures. Genteel Nashville, never wanting to impose, understanding the rigors and triumphs of celebrity life. Just one more thing I’ll miss about this town.