Since moving back to Tennessee 10 months ago, I’ve spent a good amount of time doing a lot of the things I never thought to growing up here. (And yet I still haven’t been to the Ryman!) But isn’t that how it always goes: the last place you ever do “sightseeing” is in your own town?
I have loved country music since my teen years when I finally realized it was cool to be country, and so CMT played on my TV in the background for much of high school while I sat at home doing Calculus homework. (I was that dork. Top five in Calc II in the state of Tennessee, boom.) In fact, if you asked me what job I could have of any careers on the planet—and “Taylor Swift’s BFF” and “professional chocolate taster” were already taken—then it would be “working for CMT,” hands down.
I’ve always been a fan of CMT Crossroads, so when my friend Jenny invited me—along with her fantastic friend Meg—to a taping earlier this month at the Factory at Franklin, I knew I would cancel anything else on my calendar to attend. (Jenny is an awesome friend, y’all. She also took me as her date to All for the Hall in the spring, where we had 10th row seats to watch Keith Urban, Vince Gill, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert and the Pistol Annies, Alabama, Diamond Rio, the Band Perry, Little Big Town, Thompson Square, Rascal Flatts, Merle and more!)
Even better? This particular CMT Crossroads taping would feature Mumford & Sons playing with the legendary Emmylou Harris and “Uncle Jerry” Douglas! Suddenly, I wasn’t feeling so pitiful that I finally made it back to Bonnaroo this year, and Mumford didn’t.
I have a pretty broad musical taste—ranging from Florence + the Machine to the Avett Brothers to Blackeyed Peas to (do I even need to say it?) Taylor Swift—but if I had to choose my absolute favorite kind of music, Mumford & Sons’ bluegrass-folk hybrid sound would be it. Plus, it goes without saying that Marcus Mumford has the most perfect voice on the planet, uncontested.
When Marcus got the call a few months back from CMT to appear on the show, they asked him with whom he would want to perform: Without pause, he immediately responded: “Emmylou Harris!” I love the meeting of such creative minds—it’s such an unexpected, yet genius pairing of musical mastery.
I’d never been present for a TV taping like this—unless Late Night with David Letterman or Late Night with Conan O’brien count—so was interested to find that while it was indeed “live,” after a couple songs, they would launch back into a second take because the first wasn’t deemed good enough. Jenny and I couldn’t decide who determined this, as to our untrained ears, the versions sounded exactly the same. Still, that meant we got to hear The Cave and Emmylou’s Orphan Girl twice (all artists for Crossroads perform every song together).