The Scene’s Most-Read Stories of 2022 | Pith in the Wind

Our readers in 2022 flocked to stories about loss, local controversies and beloved celebrities’ connections to Tennessee. Not counting our Best of Nashville issue (always the biggest of the year), here are the top 10 most-read stories we published last year, with links in the headlines and brief excerpts below. And for a more music-centric list of top stories, check out the most-read Cream posts.

10. Down on Junior’s Farm: When Paul McCartney and Wings Tracked a Hit in Tennessee

Paul McCartney on the Grand Ole Opry grounds with his wife Linda, escorted by police

Wings made themselves at home. They had endless crates of oranges delivered (the McCartneys loved freshly squeezed orange juice) and stayed stocked in Johnny Walker Red (for the grownups) and Ovaltine (for the girls).

Curly told Troy to put his dirt bike away before the family took off. Troy said he tucked it away in a small shed, but McCartney must have gone snooping, because one of the persistent memories of Lebanon residents of a certain age is seeing one of the world’s most famous men speeding around the sleepy little town atop that Honda XR75 (that had no headlights or taillights). Linda, who was a talented photographer, took dozens of photos of Paul on the bike, some of which were published around the world—a dirt-biking Paul was even spotted by the vacationing Putmans.

And spotted by a state trooper.

9. Founder of The Nashville Food Project Tallu Schuyler Quinn Has Died


tallu schuyler quinn

Quinn grew up in Nashville. After getting a bachelor’s degree in papermaking and bookbinding, she headed to seminary at Columbia University. With a Master of Divinity degree, she went to Nicaragua, where she worked on food-security projects with resident farmers. It was there that she started to see food differently: not as a commodity, but as a “vibrant tool for healing.”

The Food Project partners with anti-poverty organizations across the county, making and delivering 5,000 nutritious meals every week for Nashvillians in need. Its agricultural program includes a 3-acre farm at Mill Ridge Park where community members grow their own food. Another arm of the Food Project’s agricultural program is Growing Together, a market garden program that supports people who want to sell produce for income and connect more deeply to food systems.

8. Harpeth Hall Confronts Gender Diversity

Harpeth Hall

Harpeth Hall

The elite college prep school enrolls students from fifth to 12th grades and traces its history to 1865. In the past few years, nonbinary students (who do not identify exclusively as male or female) and trans students (who were assigned female at birth but identify as male) have publicly acknowledged their gender identities, prompting calls for a clear policy on gender inclusion from the school. Harpeth Hall has yet to formalize any public policy or statement about gender diversity. According to the school, gender diversity has been an internal focus for more than six years.

7. Jefferson Street Bridge Campsite Fenced Off

Jefferson Street Fence

A fence blocks off a former encampment beneath Jefferson Street Bridge

Councilmember Ginny Welsch calls the fence “appalling,” and says the program circumvented the city’s coordinated entry system. Welsch and advocates have argued that because people get prioritized by needs and vulnerability, members of the camp are jumping the line.

6. Local Man Goes Crazy During Children’s Sporting Event, Isn’t Ashamed of Himself

Clay Travis

Clay Travis

Over the weekend, the worst person you know’s favorite radio host, Clay Travis, got the old heave-ho at his kid’s baseball game. We know this because Travis, the lawyer-just-ask-him turned sports-talk host turned Rush Limbaugh replacement, went on one of his various grifts content platforms to talk about it.

5. Tennessee Becomes Second State to Pass DAO Legislation

DAO Graphic

Members of the business and tech communities have applauded the bipartisan bill, which passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. Ron Shultis, the director of policy and research for the Beacon Center of Tennessee, calls the legislation “groundbreaking.”

4. Worrell History: A Look at the Making of a Cult Classic With Nashville Ties


Jim Varney in Ernest Goes to Camp

Of course, Ernest couldn’t exist without [Jim] varney. He had the knack for voices and the face that he could paradoxically say so much while knowing so little. But neither would Ernest have lived without [John] Cherry, who died in May at age 73. The ad man honored Ernest’s shtick, basing the character on a man who worked for his father years before. After the success of the Sgt. Glory ads for Purity, Cherry suggested Ernest P. (which stands for “Powertools,” by the way) Worrell as the new pitchman.

3. Looking Back at the Rushed 1997 Closure of Opryland USA


Opryland, May 1972

Opened in 1972, Opryland was a popular destination that featured roller coasters and other rides, along with a plethora of live shows that highlighted Nashville’s unique performing arts talent. For a time, the park accompanied both the Grand Ole Opry House — home of Nashville’s iconic Grand Ole Opry radio program since 1974 — and the Opryland Hotel, an architectural marvel featuring an indoor jungle and a river flowing through it. If you find a Nashville native and ask one of us about Opryland, you’ll probably hear us wax poetic with nostalgia for a park that now lives only in our collective memory. What few seem to remember is the clumsy nature of its rushed closure by ownership group Gaylord Entertainment 25 years ago this month.

This is the story of a bad — and very unpopular — business decision. Old newspaper reporting and Gaylord’s financial filings reinforce current company executives’ call that the decision was a “mistake.”

This is the story of how a beloved local landmark was sold out from under the city that made it.

2. Code Snitching: Nashvillians Are Weaponizing Metro Codes Against ‘Undesirable’ Neighbors

Code snitching in the tall grass

[Freddie] Benford says the first complaint that put the couple on the city’s radar came from a white neighbor in 2003. “That lady would ask me to come help her move things, or fix something,” Benford says. “She’d ask for rides to and from the bus stop. Come to find out she was reporting us to the city the entire time.”

Those reports attracted the attention of a particular Codes inspector, who then became a thorn in the couple’s side for nearly two decades. “At first he’d only come around when she called in a complaint,” Benford says. “But then he just started showing up on his own from him. He’d just come into the backyard and start telling me to put things away. Neighbors told me he’d sometimes park in their driveway and watch us with binoculars.”

The Coronet also became an issue. Nashville prohibits residents from keeping inoperable or unregistered vehicles on residential properties unless they’re stored in an enclosed garage. Paradoxically, the city also forbids residents from making major repairs on their own vehicles—again, unless it’s done in an enclosed garage. For Benford, that means when the Coronet has broken down over the years, his only legal option is to have it towed to a garage and pay someone else to fix it, even though he has the skills to fix it himself. According to Benford, the same Codes inspector has repeatedly shown up at his home over the years solely to demand that Benford prove that the car is operable. “I lost count of how many times he made me do that,” Benford says. “More than 20.”

1. They’re Burning Books in Tennessee

book burning-3.jpg

[In January], McMinn County made news when the school board voted to ban beloved graphic novel Maus—a Holocaust story told with anthropomorphic mice and cats—due to instances of swear words and nudity. While the vote happened in early January, it went viral following a report from TN Holler.

[But in February], Mt. Juliet pastor and pro-Trump conspiracy theorist Greg Locke decided to turn it up a notch by organizing an old-fashioned book burning. The books included millennial staples like Harry Potter and Twilight—hits of the early Aughts that were targeted by Christian book burnings back in the day.

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