The best thing about old men is that they're so full of shit. You know when an old man is about to tell you a story because he'll get all "Now..." and draw that "Now" out about half a minute. The second I hear some old Nashvillian start "Now, Betsy..." I know I'm going to get told something delightful, but probably completely untrue.
And that, my friends, is how it is whenever any old man in this town tells you about the day 'Marbles' took on Johnny Jones and lost. First of all, because they all tell you about watching Marbles dragging his amp up from the Club Del Monacco to the Club Baron, like they were all there. Like every sixty-something year old man in Nashville had nothing better to do with his time back then than stand around waiting for Marbles to do something crazy, like play the guitar with his teeth or march up to the Baron to challenge Johnny Jones to some kind of guitar duel.
But what do I know? Maybe so many men did stand around loitering on
Jefferson, just waiting for Marbles to do anything, that they regularly
had to shut the street down, call for the police to move those men
along. I don't know. Though I doubt it.
I think the truth is probably that Marbles was good, but that few
people had any idea that he was going to be great. It's just that,
this many years on, who's going to tell you that they guessed wrong?
No, they all have to say they knew, they knew he was something special.
But then, in typical Nashville fashion (and I say this out of the
deepest love), they have to tell you about how he got his ass handed to
him by some guy you've never heard of--in this case, Johnny Jones, the
guitarist at the Club Baron. So, you see, they all knew Marbles was
great, but while he was here?
Eh, even guys you've never heard of were better than him.
If that's not Nashville, I don't know what is.
Anyway, the best part about Nashville, I think, is that things and
people get lost and found again. I didn't know, because I never know
as much as I want to, that Johnny Jones was a real person, is a real
person, and is still around and playing. And back in the day, his band
often served as the house band on the tv show "Night Train."
If random old men aren't available to pull your leg, you can learn all
about Jefferson Street either by kidnapping Michael Gray from down to
the Hall of Fame (which I must strongly recommend against doing) or by
reading this handy article from some paper I've never heard of.
Isn't the internet grand? That stuff's just lying around out there for
anyone to find. Even this footage of Marbles on "Night Train."
(Check out the guitarist.)