Beginning Monday, Nashville residents are required to wear masks, according to a new order by the Metro Health Department. There’s a lot of exemptions, so the mandate is more a helpful suggestion than stern commandment, even if failure to comply can earn you a misdemeanor citation.
But one local musician is encouraging Nashvillians to heed the mandate and mask up with a new parody song set to the tune of Johnny Cash’s “Man in Black.” Adam Kurtz has played pedal steel and guitar as a member of Chris Shiflett’s band, for American Aquarium, and for Joshua Ray Walker, and recently released a song-for-song steel-guitar tribute to Randy Travis’ debut album Storms of Life. This weekend, however, Kurtz transformed into “Man in Mask.”
Dressed all in black, the Maine native descended upon Nashville’s Broadway entertainment district to film a scrappy low-budget video for a song that, like Cash’s, spells out all the reasons he wears what he does: for trips to the store, in support of healthcare workers, those failed by their government, and “for the elderly and immunocompromised/who won’t just get a cough/they’ll fucking die.”
Unsurprisingly on Broadway, where tourists can pose for selfies with guys dressed up as Trump and Kim Jong Un, no one seems to listen. Bachelorettes “wooooo!” by on party buses and in tractor wagons, unmasked people walk the streets, and patrons stream into Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk and Rock & Roll Steakhouse, one of Broadway’s most visible flouters of coronavirus protocols.
But Kurtz is undeterred. “I’ll lead by good example/for as long as pandemic lasts,” he vows, “until things are safer/I’m the man in a mask.”
Hopefully, he likes masking up: on the day Kurtz filmed his video, Nashville/Davidson County had an increase of 350 new cases in 24 hours.