A tour of Nashville neighborhoods with Quincy Jones (but not that QJ) takes us to hidden parts of the city and walks us back in time to a forgotten creek and childhood.
Listen to his voice in the soundscape and you may find yourself walking back to a place in your own childhood memories.
Quincy “Q” Jones grew up in North and East Nashville. In September 2017 he took us on a driving tour of his childhood neighborhoods as a way of introducing us to the Nashville. It ended up becoming a tour of his memories and an introduction to the deep values of his town.
As part of the work to make a deep record of Nashville I moved into an apartment in the Preston Taylor neighborhood in order to begin recording Nashville neighborhoods at street level. I met Q at the neighborhood basketball court.
In Part I of our tour we visited the dense urban projects of Preston Taylor neighborhood, “Dodge City” near TSU, “The Bricks” in Buena Vista, and neighborhoods at the southern and western edges of “North” Nashville.
In Part II we head north to the suburbs along Brick Church Pike. We arrive at Westchester Drive just north of Briley Parkway.
Q says this is where he was raised. And behind “that wall of trees there is creek.” He and his friends used to use the creek to get to other neighborhoods—a kid highway.
Q A monument. That’s what the park was in this neighborhood. A monument. The creek was a monument. We had so many memories in that creek.
This is Westchester. This is where it all started.
Q You’ve got the first street. They sold firecrackers on this street.
Philip They sell firecrackers? (laughing).
Q For real, man. You got the second street.
Philip This looks pretty rugged here.
Q On this street… There was a man named Sarge. He would fix bikes. ‘Cause we used to ride ’em everywhere.
Q Hum (laughs and points to house up a street), that’s where I lost my virginity.
Philip In that house?
Q Third street, yeah.
Q Look, this where the park was. It’s that now. This was [where I had] my first fight. The creek is back there [on the other side of those trees].
Philip We gotta go see the creek.
Q We can.
Philip Yeah, let’s go see the creek.
Q That’s where I lived at. That first house right there.
Philip On the right?
Philip I don’t think there is anywhere to pull in there.
Q I mean, right here. I don’t think… I mean I don’t know if nobody live right there.
Philip I can park right here. Let’s go see the creek.
Q Want to see how… I ain’t been here since, since like, like… since I was like… since I moved.
Philip When was that?
Q Man, I think I was in fifth grade. (Vehicles doors shutting. Crunching through underbrush). I had many encounters with snakes back here.
Q If I see… I’m just… If I see one I’m gonna run..
Philip Yeah, it’s pretty thick grass.
Ashel It really is.
Q Now I’m nervous again.
Philip Looks like a trail right here.
Q When I was like eight or nine…
Philip I’ll break the trail.
Q You couldn’t tell me nothin’.
Philip Wow. You are right. Your suspicions were correct. It’s still here, but it’s dry.
Q Ah, wait. You should be able to go around. Man they cut this area. On the way here you can actually see… Ooh, I don’t want to step on that. It might be a [snake’s] house. You can actually see the creek, like, in the middle of the road, like once we passin’ by.
Philip Wait. Is this the creek or the creek’s over there?
Q The creek is back there,
Q This is just the open area.
Philip Oh, OK.
Q This ain’t it. Ooh, did you see that move?
Philip What’s this?
Q I don’t know. It looks like the sewer lines or something like, like the trail you will come through.
Philip Oh, yeah. This is… I bet you underneath us right now you could drive a car through it. Part of those tunnel systems that all cities have to have. I bet this is a major drainage area under us.
Q I know you would have to come through… And I’m trying to think… Like…
Philip So this used to be woodland right here?
Q What do you mean?
Philip Like, woods?
Q Yeah. Yeah, it used to be like that. But it was a trail. And a trail would, like, take us, like, all the way through. And it would be a creek just going along. Use to find like little baby lobsters.
Philip Yeah, little crawdads. I mean that’s… Looks like it goes down to something.
Q I can’t find the trail though. Unless you just walk down this one. It might be right here.
Philip So you would walk over here, go down the creek and walk all the way to where we just came from?
Philip And would you go…
Q See when we left there it was one more neighborhood called Northbrook and you reached there first. And then once you go through there you reach Village Trail.
Philip Now, I think we could probably go back through there but it’s gonna be…. I don’t think there’s…
Philip Yeah. So, do you, like a, you’re coming back here for the first time since how long?
Q Since like fifth grade.
Philip So what’s your mind doing right now?
Q It’s just showing me how everything changes. Without it being, like… I [mean] I just found out the park wasn’t there like a few months ago. I mean, it’s crazy ’cause that was, that was like a… what is a… What do you call it? A geographic… Something major. It’s a word for when something is important.
Q Yeah. uh. I don’t know how to describe it but that’s like where you went to as a kid, the park.
Q I remember my first encounter with a snake. I was in there. And I hopped on a rock. And the rock was in water. But, like, it was leaning, like, back and forth. And I see like a lizard head underneath. I was, like, hey, y’all, that’s a lizard. ‘Cause we used to play hide and seek in there. And base would be on the bench at the park. And so, like, wherever he popped his head out I would place the rock down on that side. And then eventually it just did like that (makes a rapidly slithering motion with hand and arm). And it went out and it was like the scariest thing in my life. And then we went in there because, uh, we was playing hide and seek again. And one of my friends… He lived right here, actually. He had a trampoline in the back. He, uh… He was fixin’ to run and as he went to run, it was a snake just right there. And he stopped. He was like, a snake! And we took off runnin’ again.
Q Yo, right here was the park, man.
Philip So what what is this concrete? What was it around [the park]?
Q The park? The park was right here.
Philip So, what was in it?
Q It was the monkey bars right here, the green monkey bars. There was a slide that went down. And then it was like, like the little pole that you can, like, go around each side. And then like you can go underneath. You can write stuff and, like, it was just, it was just… A monument, that’s what it is. Yeah. The important word I was trying to get. A monument. That’s what the park was in this neighborhood. A monument. The creek was a monument. We had so many memories in that creek. And then, uh… Let me see.
Q So. That’s where I lived. Best friend lived back there. This is the crazy part. So, Aunty Barbara lived in Village Trail. My Granny, Janet, she lived at the end of the street. And then, like, three houses down, my Aunty, her sister lived right there. And then right up here my Momma’s best friend lived up here. It was just deep out here. It was a whole bunch of us. And right here a dude named Didi…. We, uh… So it was a bunch of us kids, it was like… You ever seen “The Sand Lot”? It was like a whole bunch of us and we would play football, like, right here. And one day he decided, like, he was going to start a thing called Rack Squad. And basically what it was, was like a click. And I was, like, I’m not fixin’ to join that.
Q So he convinced all the kids in there to join. And I will never forget. Me and my best friend was sittin’ down on the monkey bar. We watched our friends have a free-for-all, Super Smash Brothers all-out like WWE warrior Romans. Like they were just all back there just fighting each other.
Q It was like, what’s going on? What is is? That was their initiation.
Q So everybody in the neighborhood had bikes. Man they stole everybody’s bike. Including mine. Mine got stolen. I remember coming’ home off the bus…
Ashel Like their own mini gang?
Q Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Basically. It was called Rack Squad. And I came home off the bus. I seen a dude ridin’ my bike to Village Trail. Told my granny. We went back and got it. Me bein’, what, ten or eleven and lazy I would just sit my bike on the side of the porch instead of taking it in. It ended up gone again. So when they take the bikes they just spray-paint them. They spray-paint it, change it up. You come over here: That’s my bike. No it ain’t. This ain’t yours. This don’t look nothing like yours. And then there were so many you ain’t fixin’ to do nothin’ about neither.
Q And so that lasted. It had a cool little period.
Ashel So was this like a field? Like an open field?
Q Yeah. All that was cut. It was two trees actually. Because one… that’s thick. It was one skinny tree that you could, like, climb. When I first moved out here we would climb like right there and just shake it. And then it was two thin ones because we used to use them as like touch-down poles. That was clear. That was the field. These bushes here, first there was like… it was like a whole bunch of them just separated. And then…
Q Every street had it’s own little significant thing. Like the dead-end down there. If you go through the woods down there, you can… This is big Westchester. It will take you straight to little Westchester. And then the fifth street… that’s like if you want to play basketball is always a hoop up there at the top of the street. And then my uncle, he got shot down by my Granny’s house. And then up here, this is just my street. Have my next door neighbor across the street, had a whole bunch of girlfriends on this street. And then on this street, it was the candy lady. This dude named Roger. Roger was like the neighborhood bully. That was my first ever fight. But Roger, he lived right there. His dad used to have, like, all types of four wheelers and stuff like that. And then candy lady. 4th Street, that’s Sarge. He used to, like, fix our bikes because we ride them so much you either get a flat tire or pop chain. Pop a chain you need a fix it. He gonna do it. Only thing he couldn’t do is change your inner tube. First Street they sold firecrackers. You know, firecrackers out here, being eleven or twelve, there was many wars. Many wars, a lot of man hunt. A lot of hide and seek. A lot of football. Basketball. That’s growing up. A lot of things we weren’t supposed to be doing but we did. So it helped shape us to who we are today.