Here's a collection of movies to get you in the mood for a road trip to Nashville and Memphis, plus a good selection of car music to pass the time in transit.
Nashville — The Robert Altman classic. Lots of intersecting characters in the Nashville music biz of the 1970s.
Dill Scallion — A Spinal Tap for the country music crowd. An underground cult favorite.
Walk the Line — Local girl Reese Witherspoon wins an Oscar and Joaquin Phoenix plays Johnny Cash.
Neil Young: Heart of Gold — The master hits the stage of Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, backed by the city's best. Shot by Jonathan Demme.
Coal Miner's Daughter — Loretta Lynn was from Kentucky, but in this true life rags to riches story, Sissy Spacek's Loretta finally makes it big in Nashville.
Hustle & Flow — Terrence Howard gets an Oscar nomination and Three 6 Mafia takes home the statue for the single.
Blues Brothers — Not placed in Tennessee, but the Stax music plays a central role and Memphis stars like Aretha Franklin, Duck Dunn, Matt Murphy, and Steve Cropper all have cameos.
Great Balls of Fire — A fun Jerry Lee Lewis romp starring Dennis Quaid, Wynona Rider, and Alec Baldwin (as Jimmy Swaggert!).
The Rainmaker — Local author John Grisham's The Firm was filmed in Memphis, but this one is closer to the book and has more local flavor.
King Creole — Most of Elvis Presley's movies are campy and far from memorable. This 1958 one usually gets the nod as his best.
The Blind Side — Not much music, but an Oscar win for Sandra Bullock and two sides of Memphis.
Trying to pick a representative sample of music from Tennessee is like trying to pick the best barbecue restaurants in the south—an impossible and thankless task. But here is a good sampling that runs across a lot of styles and decades.
Otis Redding The Very Best of Otis Redding
Various Top of the Stax, Vol. 1
Various Hustle & Flow Soundtrack
Al Green Greatest Hits
Big Star #1 Record
Judds Why Not Me
Patsy Cline The Very Best Of
Lucinda Williams Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
Waylon Jennings Greatest Hits
George Jones The Essential George Jones
Kings of Leon — Aha Shake Heartbreak
Loretta Lynn — Van Lear Rose (produced by Jack White)
Both (These performers have straddled both cities)
Roy Orbison Essential
John Hiatt Slow Turning
Elvis Presley The Sun Sessions or 30 #1 Hits
Johnny Cash At Folsum Prison
Ray Charles Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
FOR THE BACK SEAT OF THE MINIVAN
Hannah Montana: The Movie
Taylor Swift — Fearless
Carrie Underwood — Some Hearts