So, WSMV is bringing Bill Hall back for an interview, just in time for November sweeps. That ought to tell you something. Bill Hall is something of a Nashville icon. Nashville transplants may not understand when the word ‘beloved’ is tossed around whenever Mr. Hall’s name is mentioned. We lifelong Nashvillians (all four of us) understand completely.
Bill (Mr Hall just doesn’t seem right) is a throwback to the “old” Nashville; the one that was smaller and less important than Memphis (and had an inferiority complex about it), the small big town, or the big small town, the one whose tallest building was the L&C tower. Harvey’s, Opryland, Cain Sloan, sold-out Vanderbilt football games: Bill is the symbol of the Nashville in which I grew up. It’s kind of sad he’s been put out to pasture. It’s even sadder that I remember his first day on the Ralph Emery show.
It’s only a matter of time, we’ll see the other old icons go, too. They’ll be replaced by generic anchors who are vying for a shot at CNN. I cannot imagine a Nashville without a Bob Mueller, Anne Holt, Cris Clark, Dan Miller (although we had that for a while), Hope Hines, even Demetria, who as a transplant is still one of the most iconic of Nashville news personalities. I refered to her only by her first name, and you knew who she was: that’s an icon.
No matter where you went away, or for how long, you could come back and these folks were still here waiting. They “were”, and “are” Nashville in that they retain the pleasant, friendly persona that was Old Nashville. We took them for granted. If you could time-lapse video from the 70’s to the present, the passage of time could be marked by the lines on Chris Clark’s face. I am sad that Nashville will, in the not too distant future, just become another mid-sized market, indistiguishable from Indianoplis, Charlotte, Columbus, at least as far as our newscasts go.
One final thing about Bill Hall: he may have been the world’s most preeminent African American redneck, and that may be the biggest reason of all to miss him.