Picks and Pans Review: Nashville: the Pilgrims of Guitar Town

updated 07/03/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/03/2000 01:00AM

Photographs by Michel Arnaud, text and stories by Robert Hicks

French photographer Arnaud has worked with Princess Diana, Cindy Crawford and other celebrities and has published his work in leading international fashion magazines. He knows something about dreams. On a trip to Nashville he found them in a pure and alluring form.

The best picture in this collection is of Chet Atkins, sitting in a comfortable chair tuning his guitar. There are less engaging shots of such performers as Dolly Parton, Pam Tillis and Earl Scruggs and cozy pictures of spouses Matraca Berg and Jeff Hanna, among others. Yet while there are many interesting pictures in the book, Arnaud seems not to have grasped the peculiar combinations of hope and disappointment, art and commerce, subtlety and garishness that characterize the city that is the capital of both Tennessee and the country-music business. Where are the telling pictures of struggling young performers at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge or the Bluebird Cafe, or big-name stars in unguarded moments, or rabid admirers at Fan Fair? (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $27.50)

Bottom Line: Music City keeps its secrets

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