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Classic Rock Legend Norman Greenbaum Receives a Spirited Standing Ovation at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville Return

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Classic rock legend Norman Greenbaum accidentally "discovered" Nashville during a 2018 trip to the state to visit some of his relatives here. By a matter of luck and a little bit of fate the city's eclectic and all-consuming week-long music festival AmericanaFest was taking place at the same time. So, Norman and his partner Bonita Kay Capps bought themselves a pair of tickets and a love affair with Music City quickly ensued.


Norman Greenbaum onstage at the Ryman Auditorium.

The pair returned in 2019 and Norman appeared onstage at the Basement East performing an extended and celebratory version of his singularly amazing song "Spirit In The Sky" with the help of top East Nashville talent. Greenbaum also found himself behind the microphone as a guest on WSM's Coffee and Cody and that organization invited him out to the Grand Ole Opry where they brought him out from behind the curtain to introduce him to the large audience during the start of the second act.

In a lot of ways, this Nashville chapter of Norman Greenbaum's life represents an exciting second act for the friendly and gentle musical giant who turns 80 in November. Norman was excited and energized by the players in this town - and the city itself - as he got a first hand education in just how important music is to Music City.


The Ryman Auditorium is still making history in Nashville.

Things were going so well that a new band was being wood-shedded in California and dates were being drawn up for a comeback tour with many scheduled to take place on the cruise ship circuit. However, the momentum killing global pandemic and ensuing lockdowns tragically cut those plans short and stopped them in their tracks. Norman and Bonita like the rest of the world hunkered down and waited for the all clear. When the pair felt comfortable with the idea of travel again it wasn't tough to figure out where they were headed - back to Nashville.

And somehow - in another case of extreme and unlikely coincidence - a band who themselves also achieved a great amount of success with "Spirit In The Sky" happened to be playing at the Ryman Auditorium as the Kentucky HeadHunters were opening on a co-bill with Steve Earle on Wednesday, September 21, 2022. But, it couldn't happen - could it? It seemed too good to be true. Sure enough, during the band's two-song encore they talked about the time they recorded the famous track and said the writer was in the building before bringing a flashy Greenbaum out wearing an Old Glory shirt and striking silver sneakers. The Ryman faithful were in awe as history was being made once again at the Mother Church of Country Music and a standing ovation ensued at the end of the song. Now, only one question remains. What does Norman Greenbaum do for an encore in Music City?


Norman Greenbaum and the Kentucky Headhunters in Nashville.

Related Links: For more information on NORMAN GREENBAUM and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Norman Greenbaum | The Kentucky Headhunters | Norman Greenbaum - Classic Rock Legend's Spirits Are Elevated in Nashville Return | There's Still Spirit in the Song at Americanafest | Is There a New Wave of Jesus Rock Rolling Right Out of Nashville? | AmericanaFest 2022: Wrap-Up and 10 Additional Reports from the Music City Nashville Reporting Team


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