About This Website   |   Who Am I?   |   Site Map   |   Music   |   Contact Me










The Karaoke Man 

(Reprint from News: July 5, 2001)

July 2, 2001


I said goodbye to Meriwether Lewis that morning and continued heading north on the beautiful Natchez Trace Parkway through Tennessee while watching endless pastoral scenes rush by, each worthy of a photograph.  I drove into Tennessee's capital, Nashville, that evening, where I stopped at a grocery store and got restocked with supplies.  I knew this was the South because of the endless bags of fried pork rinds, cans of grits, and jars of chitlins on the shelves.  Pork rinds are pretty disgusting, grits are really disgusting, and as for chitlins... I won't even go there.  Of course, I'm sure Southerners feel the same way about bratwurst, so we're even. 


I pulled into a campground on a reservoir outside of Nashville that night.  The next morning at the campground, while sitting at my picnic table in the steamy sunshine, I decided to work on my website, so I turned on my laptop computer and started typing away.  A few minutes later, I noticed a gray-haired, shirtless guy cautiously approach my campsite.  I greeted him as he walked towards me and he broke into a sheepish smile.  "I was just wondering what you were working on, with your computer there," he said with a Southern drawl.  I told him about my website and my trip, invited him to sit down at the table, and we talked for the next half-hour.  He told me his name was Walter Shannon and that he was a retired telephone line worker from Kentucky.  Walter was soft-spoken, polite, and a little shy, and he said that he was visiting relatives here in Nashville for a few weeks.  


As we talked, Walter told me with an embarrassed smile about his recent passion:  karaoke.  "I go to karaoke clubs about twice a week and I really enjoy getting up and singing."  I had to suppress a smile because Walter was the very first person who had ever confessed to me about being a karaoke addict.  After we'd talked for a half-hour, Walter said, "Well, I don't want to bother you anymore so I'll head back to my campsite."  "You're no bother at all," I assured him, "I enjoyed talking to you."  I shook his hand, he walked away, and I started packing up my truck. 


A few minutes later, Walter shyly approached again.  "I wanted to give you a present for your trip," and he handed me one of his karaoke CDs.  He'd written on the cover, "To Del, may you travel safely."  I was touched by this gentle man's kind offering, smiled, and shook his hand.  Twenty minutes later, I headed into Nashville while listening to Walter's version of "Ring of Fire" cranked up on my truck's stereo.  



Above left:  Back on the Natchez Trace Parkway, heading north.

Above center:  One of the many beautiful vistas along the Parkway in central Tennessee.

Above right:  View from a Natchez Trace Parkway bridge, overlooking Highway 96 near Franklin, Tennessee  



Above left:  I said goodbye to the Natchez Trace Parkway here at its northern terminus near Nashville, Tennessee, after traveling on it for four days and 500 miles.

Above center:  Getting groceries in Nashville (note the beautiful truck in the foreground).  They didn't have Krispy Kreme donuts, though, darn it!

Above right:  Walter Shannon, karaoke devotee, with the CD present he gave me.



Home > Travels (2001-02) > Story List > U.S. Stories > The Karaoke Man