Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Friends in Drunk Places

There used to be an O'Charleys on 21st Ave., across from Vanderbilt. It has been torn down and replaced with a Starbucks. Like many good, struggling young Nashville musicians, I was a bartender in my 20s, and that O'Charley's was where I worked. One Sunday brunch, some guys were sitting at a table in the bar, really ripping through the free champagne. I must have gone through 10 bottles just on those guys. They were passing a napkin and a pen back and forth, yukking it up, and generally having a grand old time. They sat there for about three hours. I was doing the standard bartender bullshitting with them and they found out that I was a musician. They said they were in the music business, too. As they left, one of them said, "here's my number, maybe we can work together sometime." His name was Bud Lee. That's only six letters. B-U-D L-E-E. He was so drunk, it was illegible. Six letters! I never called him.

What's the point? As they were passing the napkin back and forth, they were writing "Friends in Low Places."

Never blow off a possible connection in this town, no matter how drunk he might be.

Mark Chestnutt recorded that song a while before Garth Brooks, but he didn't release it as a single. The story I heard was that Bud Lee assumed it was going nowhere, so he sold his rights to pay off a bar tab across town. I don't know if that's true, but it makes for a great Nashville drinking story, dammit.


At 5:28 PM , Blogger S-townMike said...

That's a great story. When I was at grad school at Vandy in the 90's we used to head over to O'Charleys after classes and unwind to the point of a nice buzz.

It was a Boston Chicken between being O'Charleys and Starbucks, and I'm not sure, but it seems like it could have had another generation between O'Charleys and Boston Chicken.

At 8:45 AM , Blogger Wally Bangs said...

Why in the world were they getting free champagne?

At 9:12 AM , Blogger Nashville Knucklehead said...

O'Charley's gave you all the free champagne you wanted if you ate Sunday brunch. Do they not do that anymore?

At 10:08 AM , Blogger SistaSmiff said...

Wasn't that the very first O'Charley's ever on 21st?

Bud Lee's son is also the one that allegedly died from being tasered. Sadly, he inherited Dad's tendency to overindulge.

At 10:59 AM , Blogger Nashville Knucklehead said...

That was the first one. It had a live magnolia tree growing in the middle of the bar. The founder, Dave Wachtel "stole" the concept from Cheeseburger Charleys. Now that first O'Charleys is gone and there is a Cheesburger Charleys next door.

I didn't know that was Bud Lee's son. How very sad. Bud was very likeable and friendly that one time I met him.


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