A Nashville Icon: Mourning Jim Ridley

I’ve mentioned the Nashville Scene—our alternative newspaper—several times here as a great resource for when you’re planning to come to Nashville.

When I was a newly single mom in 1990, the Scene was new too. It came out on Thursdays, and there were racks for it in strategic places around town. Stopping to pick up a Scene was part of my Thursday routine (because by Friday afternoon they might be gone). This wasn’t because I had such an active social life. I had a six-year-old at home.

No, it was because I’m a reader, and the Scene was then and is now a great newspaper, full stop. The editor, Jim Ridley, is (was) a guy I never truly knew (met him a couple times) though several of my friends did, in varying degrees. Back in the very early ’90s Jim was a student at MTSU and working at a local record store. When he graduated and moved to Nashville, I happened to be the person who was hired to fill his slot on the work schedule at the store. He was much loved, even then, by a bunch of cool kids at the record store. When I made that remark on Facebook, a friend of mine said, “As far as I know, he’s always been king of the cool kids.”

Jim was known far and wide in Nashville; he never met a stranger. He wrote brilliant film reviews for the Scene. And he died unexpectedly yesterday, just fifty years old. I bring all this up simply because there have been some lovely things written about him in recent days—

Scene Editor Jim Riley Dies at 50

Kicking and Punching and Straining for the Sky

A Farewell to Nashville Film Critic Jim Ridley: A Civic Institution and Everybody’s Friend

—which also says, I feel, something about our community. My friend, who knew him, says, “He just happened to be one of the nicest and warmest people I have ever met. There was no one like him and Nashville was lucky to have him.” Indeed we were.




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