The first Saturday of May is approaching, and with it comes derby day in Louisville, Kentucky, the city where I was born. It's a time when celebrities flock to town, the bars stay open all night, and the nation focuses on Louisville for the two minutes the Kentucky Derby takes to run. These books, films, and recording artists will give you a little bit of Kentucky any time of year.
Hunter S. Thompson. Born and raised in Louisville, he penned the 1970 article "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved." Johnny Depp, also a Kentucky native, played Thompson in the film adaptation of his Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream.
F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Daisy Buchanan was a Louisville debutante. When she married Tom Buchanan, he reserved an entire floor of the Seelbach hotel for his guests.
Musicians connected with Louisville
Will Oldham. This Louisville native has been putting out records since 1993, first under the name of Palace Brothers, then as Bonnie 'Prince' Billy.
Some Louisvillians contend that Guns N' Roses' song "Paradise City" is in fact about Louisville. While there doesn't seem to be any real evidence of this, I choose to believe it.
Slint. A Lousville band from the 1990s. The cover of their album Spiderland is a photo taken by Will Oldham.
Silver Jews. David Berman's project, with Pavement's Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich, among others. In the song "Tennessee" Berman sings "You know Louisville is death; We've got to up and move, cause the dead do not improve."
She's not associated with Louisville, but it would be impossible to publish a Kentucky list without "Butcher Holler" native Loretta Lynn. A Kentucky hero, she has been releasing albums since 1963.
Sissy Spacek earned an Academy Award for her portrayal of Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter (1980) and Tommy Lee Jones played her husband, Doolittle Lynn. In "Story of my life" on her 2004 album Van Lear Rose (with The White Stripes' Jack White), she sang about the film: "Some big shot from Hollywood thought a movie about my life would be good. It was a big hit, made a big splash, what I wanna know is what happened to the cash."
Movies filmed (though not necessarily set) in Louisville
Stripes. (1981) Bill Murray's memorable taxi scene was filmed on the streets of Louisville, ending with his stopping on the bridge to Indiana and throwing the car's keys into the Ohio river.
Sheba Baby (1975) starring Pam Grier, and directed by William Girdler, a Kentucky native who shot several films in Louisville.
The Insider (1999) directed by Michael Mann, starring Al Pacino and Russell Crowe. A thriller revolving around the tobacco industry.
Elizabethtown (2005) starring Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst. "E-town" is an hour's drive south, but much of this movie was filmed in Louisville.