My name is Shira Gur and I’m the person behind Nashville Forever. One of my favorite things to publish is stories about how ‘Nashville’ touched the lives of its viewers. Over the past year I published several of these stories and now I’m adding another one – mine. So here’s the story of why and how I became an ‘Nashville’ fan and how ‘Nashville Forever’ came about
How it Started
In the realm of Nashville fandom there’s a nickname for the die-hard Nashville fans – Nashies. I suppose running a website and a Facebook page as well as Twitter and Instagram accounts, all dedicated to Nashville, qualify me for this title.
That wasn’t the plan.
There was no plan.
And yet somehow one thing led to another and Nashville Forever happened.
When Nashville entered my life, I was back in school for the completion of my master’s degree.
It was a big deal for me going back, a personal triumph.
The story is I was supposed to complete my master’s 10 years earlier. It was meant to be just another step on my way for a PhD, an academic career and some other things that together formed my then version of a good life.
That was the plan!
And it failed.
And it hurt. A LOT!
What happened was one day I just…stopped.
One day, a day like all others, I lost the ability to function. My thoughts were lucid and I knew exactly what I’m supposed to do but for some obscure reason, when it came to converting my thoughts into action, my brain refused to give the correct order for the rest of my body.
This “paralysis” first manifested itself in my academic work, when I missed one deadline after another (and then the extensions). Gradually it expanded and included all aspects of my life until I couldn’t do anything.
Eventually it got to a point where just getting out of bed in the morning was considered a big victory and I didn’t have many of those.
What made things even worse was I couldn’t pinpoint the cause and that made trying to stop it much harder.
It stemmed from everything and nothing at the same time.
Still, I tried to fight it; I used everything I had to do it but nothing seemed to stop my fall.
Life tested me before more than once and I thought I was strong but this was stronger than me.
To say it got worse before it got better would be an understatement. It was a long fall down. I lost years…and so much more.
Then it was a long, slow, inconsistent and excruciating climb up.
My decision years later to go back to school and pick up where I left off was the final step on that journey.
I had no expectations going back, just hope history wouldn’t repeat itself and this time I would be able to show up and do the work. That vanity of thinking I’m invincible and can do it all was no longer a part of my vocabulary. I could only do my best and hope it’s enough.
Thankfully, this time around it was.
Once that became clear a strange thing happened – I started to have fun!
I had nothing to hold me back anymore so I could enjoy the road and the simple pleasures that came out of spending more time in a place that always inspired me doing work I love. Learning the hard way how nothing in life can be taken for granted made it even sweeter and more gratifying.
Then another strange thing happened – I realized an academic career is no longer my dream and perhaps never was.
READ: More About Shira Gur
It was one of those unexpected defining moments. I ran into an old acquaintance in the hallways. Unlike me he stayed on the academic track and was now a professor at my old department. He was married with two kids, lived not too far from the university and just got back from a conference abroad. In other words – he had my life!
While we talked I expected a certain feeling to emerge inside of me – jealousy.
Not jealousy, not regret. Nada!
All I felt was…relief. It was his life, not mine and I didn’t want to trade.
There’s a quote by Lewis Carroll: “I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” I love that.
Getting a second chance in life isn’t the same as getting a time-machine; nothing can turn back the time. Instead it’s a unique and precious opportunity to ask the same old questions and see if we come up with fresh new answers.
The girl I once was delighted on the opportunity to mend the past a get her old wishes, but the woman I became knew the moment had passed and fixating on it was turning back on the natural stream of life.
From where I was standing it was a waste of time and I didn’t have more time to lose.
It wasn’t a sad moment but a liberating one that brought peace to my heart and fresh new energy into my body and soul. It made everything feel lighter in a way and made me want to embrace life in a new way.
The Nashville Effect
While I was getting used to this new state of being and started to explore life from the other side I stumbled upon a TV show about musicians at the heart of Nashville, Tennessee.
It was TV love at first sight. Nashville was fun, funny, smart, sexy, feminist and creative with a killer soundtrack. Seriously, what was there not to love?!
So on my spare time I was more than happy to immerse myself in this far away and exciting world that was so different from mine.
Related: A Road Trip to Nashville for The Love of Nashville
Nevertheless, it took me a little while before I became a Nashie.
That happened half way through season 1 on episode 1.14 ‘Dear Brother’ (Written by Nancy Miller and Dana Greenblatt), or to be exact, after I watched Rayna Jaymes, the queen of country music and most things in general, go on stage at the Bluebird café, and sing in front of her friends, colleagues and one Deacon Claybourne, a song called ‘Stronger Than Me‘.
That song, written by the wonderful Sarah Buxton and Kate York, can also easily be labeled as one of the most inappropriate birthday songs ever, since I believe there are few death-row songs happier and more festive. And yet this is the song Rayna sang to Deacon at his birthday party and this is what drove me to cross over to the dark side of the Nashies.
“Oh here I go again, walking the line killing time between my sins…”
From the first crooked note and first line I knew this song; I knew exactly what it’s about and felt it in my bones.
One of the many things you lose with depression is the ability to mask your emotions and adjust your behavior to norms. The more you fight it by trying “to behave”, the harder you fall. But if you don’t fight it – depression takes over and there’s no way of knowing where that fall will end.
That’s if you will the catch 22 of depression and that’s why one of the dominant feelings during depression is exhaustion. This constant struggle wears you out in every possible way and isolates you. Oh yes, if I forgot to mention, depression is a very, very, very lonely place.
So you search for ways to get better and try to escape because the pain is unbearable, but one of the perks of depression is it comes with a false view on life you mistake for an absolute truth. You feel like the darkness you see and feel is the world as it really is and everything else is a lie.
At this state one can do anything to numb the pain and just rest (and that’s why I think so many people who suffer from variations of depression become addicts).
Once you experienced it, there’s no turning back. It’s not like the flu when once you heal, you forget you had it. Every little disappointment, challenge or cancelled plan can trigger it again and in one split second you’re overwhelmed with this exhaustion, pain and cold, harsh pessimistic “realism”. It took me a long time before I felt stable and strong enough to take upon myself new challenges without the fear of breaking down.
Everything about ‘Stronger than me’ from the lyrics through the melody, the arrangement and the delivery reflects what I just said and then some. It’s an accurate description of what happens when you trigger a painful dark place you have no desire to revisit because another trip might, literally, kill you.
It was raw, exposed and truthful. I was beautiful.
“I should write something like that” was my first thought. That jealousy I couldn’t find at the university appeared here. There was something there I wanted for myself; I just didn’t quite know what it was.
My second thought was how brave Rayna Jaymes is. In front of me appeared this powerful and beautiful woman. All eyes were pointed at her and she was very much aware of that but didn’t let it distract her. This woman wasn’t a slave to her image and we know it because at that particular moment she went against all common sense and chose to open up and share her truth, as melancholy and inappropriate as it is, instead of engaging in small talk, sing ‘Happy Birthday’ or stay at home.
The reason for her decision was it felt right to her. Her truth was relevant for her and another person in the room and for her that was enough.
Related: More About Rayna Jaymes
My third thought was how brave Connie Britton, the actress behind Rayna, is. There she was, standing in the middle of the Bluebird café surrounded by the who’s who in country music and accompanied by JD Souther, Pam Tillis and one of the writers of that song, Kate York – and pretending to be this legendary country artist. She immersed herself completely in her character and that world and I believed every word that came out her mouth.
My last thought was how wonderful it is there is a community that enables it. I may have felt nervous for Rayna Jaymes and Connie Britton for taking risks like that, but on-screen at least it all seemed perfectly normal.
No one at that scene acted as if she did something out of the ordinary – just another artist sharing a story. Even later, when Rayna talked to Deacon, he simply said it’s a pretty song.
Related: Letting Music Tell A Story – A Life That’s Good
When it ended I found myself shivering.
I didn’t expect that.
I didn’t know what to do with myself. I felt edgy; like I have so much to say but don’t know where to start.
I got up, went over to my computer and started writing.
How It’s Going
Then I did what I always do when something catches my attention – research! I tried to find out everything I can about Nashville. That led me to Twitter and from there the way to becoming a full-fledge Nashie was short.
Whenever I stopped to think about my new-found status as a TV fan it felt a little…odd. I couldn’t fully explain or justify it, but knew it had awaken something inside of me that’s been sleeping for too long – my sense of adventure. I also knew that unlike my depression, it expanded my world and frankly, that’s all I needed to know.
The most valuable lesson I learned on my journey was to go with the flow and that there’s a big difference between that and drifting aimlessly. I wasn’t drifting anymore; I simply trusted my heart enough to let it lead me and stopped questioning everything for once.
This adventure opened a new world to me.
I met interesting like-minded people from around the world and formed new friendships. Several of these friendships didn’t last but a precious few did.
I discovered the world of social media and built Nashville Forever. I used my academic skills to teach myself new skills and researched my way into creating a website, writing a blog, managing a Facebook page, twitter and Instagram accounts.
When I think about it, today I use all the tools and skills I acquired while trying to achieve my other previous dreams – I write, edit, research, build and organize communities and above all – learn new things every day.
Where I’m Headed
This adventure also led me to Nashville, TN.
It’s strange how sometimes the things you want the most and work so hard for, you don’t get, but the things you don’t even dare to dream come true, almost effortlessly.
One of my dreams as a little girl was to be on the set of a TV show, but it always seemed so far way. The first time I got to Nashville I visited the set and met the people behind it and I didn’t even ask for it.
And there was more.
Nashville, the city, was probably one of the biggest surprises of my life.
When I arrived there I realized I’m one of them. No, I’m not a songwriter or any type of musician but I’m a writer and someone who is constantly looking for that authentic voice and those illusive accurate words.
In Nashville I found my tribe and I keep coming back ever since.
Nashville didn’t change my life – I did. Nashville inspired my life, directed me to a road I didn’t know existed and reminded me I don’t need to wait for approval to do what I feel is right.
Now I am sitting here, in Nashville, writing and sharing this part of my story with you. It’s relevant to me and maybe just another person but that’s good enough for me because it’s the truth.
I don’t know where this road will lead me eventually.
I don’t have a plan.
I don’t need a plan.
“It’s a long, long road to independence …but I’m already gone.”
Great story! Beautifully written!
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Thank you for all. kindest regards from Paris (France)
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Thank you so much!
Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story. What a talented writer you are. I love how you respond to our comments and I was sure you were part of Abc or the Nashville show with your knowledge. I wish you well as you continue your journey through life.
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Thank you so much for reading and for these kind words. That means a lot!
Very flattered you thought I was from ABC and promise you if I were I would make it my business to promote Nashville better and give it the attention it deserves 😉 Hope you continue to read and comment during the season!!
Beautiful, honest, and brave. You have so much to be proud of, and I think that this post is something that will surely inspire others.
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Thank you so much for saying that my dear! I definitely get inspiration all the time from the beautiful Nashville stories I get to read and sometimes publish…like yours! X
Reading this made my day, great history!
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Wow, thank you!! Glad you loved it!!
I’m so glad that you shared your story. This story– it’s what life is made of– learning the easy and often hard way, falling down and getting back up, learning to love yourself and trust yourself, and most of all, letting yourself be vulnerable. Wow! I’m very inspired. We share a few similarities in our detours on the road to academia– that’s so interesting– I always sensed something common there :). Thanks for writing this beautiful piece!
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Wow, thanks Ellie…don’t really know where to start to reply but guess that means we have much more in common than we thought and lots more to talk about 🙂 Lots of love and thank you so much for your kind beautiful words!
Reblogged this on Shira Gur and commented:
In the past year or so I’ve been asked a lot what’s my story with ‘Nashville’ – the TV series and the town. I made up all kinds of answers becasue I didn’t really have a coherent one, or at least not one I was willing to share. Now, a year after my first visit to Nashville, I feel it’s time to share. So here’s the story about how I got here and how I found the inspiration I was looking for in an unexpected place.
That was so wonderful to read, moments when art inspires life;) We share so many similarities, I had a similar experience with uni and spent 10 years on my master’s cos I just fell and eventually just crawled my way to the end by tooth and nail. The reasons we love the show are a little different cos for me it’s a love story first (and this song had a very strong effect on me but for that reason), and the songwriting they describe comes second. They learn to understand themselves through music and I can relate to that even though I have zero musical talent. I have jealousy there lol! But it’s always interesting to see all the ways you look at this show. It’s just very special to see how many ways there are to look at the world when you stand in a different spot. Loved it!
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Thank you so much for reading and for that comment Suvi!! Who know we’re master’s sisters? Glad you also found a way to finish it eventually.
I love that love story as you know but yes, the soul-searching and the struggle to create your own destiny comes first to me. Un an earlier version of this story though, appeared my love for the songwriting and the way music tell stories and people, as you say, understand themselves through music. I think we are similar there.
It is really special how there are so many ways to view this show and I think maybe that’s the best thing about it and probably what it will leave behind as a legacy – the interpretative aspect of it. It’s a show about artists in an artistic city that invites you to join in and look for your voice and your point of view. If only ABC would have realized what a gem they have in their hands….well, we can’t win them all!
Looking forward to your videos next season no less than I wait for the season in general!!
Admittedly not much of a TV fan, I am however a great fan of human spirit, and yours is a unique and brave one. So very proud of you, and incredibly happy you have found your tribe and path.
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I became a fan because my friends live there and we’re extras on the show. We came down from Philly and became extras too. We love Nashville, the town and the show and the cast is awesome. We love the music and the story line.
We saw the cast in Philly in concert, had a great time !!! Love love love them !!!
Truly your story is one of the most moving stories ever, and one that I can relate to in so many ways. Thank you for sharing your truth and for creating this Blog.
I went through a transformation as well around the time Nashville began. I was hooked from the 2nd episode when Rayna had to be interviewed by the men who were vetting Teddy for office.
I could see how deep this show was going to be, by the way she answered each question, while takes of Juliette’s song Undermine played.
I love Nashville and it has created an outlet for me.
I have hoped for the show to dig deeper as it once was that first season, and would just love to see Rayna and Deacon have some happiness.
I think my friends and I have just been rooting for this couple, so that the old saying my mom always said, “what’s meant to be, will be” ends with happily ever after… (I know, a bit urealisitc but, this is after all, TV.
Many Blessings your way!!!!
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Thank you so much for those words Nicole. I’m so glad my story spoke to you the way it did. The moment that got you hooked is one of my favorite as well. The beauty of it I felt was it was so minimal – the most important part was what that remained unspoken that with the combination between Juliette’s song and Rayna’s face made it clear it’s the thing that…undermines everything. There were many moments throughout the show since where I felt they dig deep and others where not. I do know that when they do Nashville is not like any other show on TV. In any case it sure has inspired and still inspiring so many lives and I believe there is nothing more beautiful than that.