You know the one; the white station wagon in the background of the world’s introduction to country wave-maker, Sam Hunt. The retro, white car on the album cover of his Between The Pines acoustic mixtape.
Affectionally called Belle by its owner, Old Gringo Music’s Chris Hunter, the car has sat between the office buildings of Hunter’s and MusicRow Magazine’s on 17th Avenue South for years. Until, recently, it was to be moved to a new location, and was destroyed in the process.
The car was headed to a friend, Chris Trull‘s garage, to perhaps be worked on this winter.
“I cleaned it up, started it, drove it around town that morning,” Chris Hunter tells MusicRow. “[Chris Trull] got in the car and said, ‘Well, I’m going to head to my house.’ He called me about 30 minutes later and said, ‘Man, I’m on Moores Lane and this car has caught on fire. It has burnt to the ground.'”
The cause of the explosion is unknown. Hunter believes that perhaps the fire was caused by a bird’s nest under the hood, or a fuel line that had been damaged by icy weather.
“This car has had such a history,” Hunter says. “I bought the car in 2012. We drove it down to Cedartown, Georgia, which is where we made the ‘Raised On It’ video. Chris Trull was with me! We drove it down there that weekend and that’s where we shot the photo [for the Between The Pines cover].
“I signed Sam in 2009,” Hunter continues. “I found him through a mutual friend, and moved him and John Worthington—his tour manager—up at the end of 2008, and started the publishing company. We ran the gamut, writing with everybody in town and trying to find his sound.”
This is not the first adventure Belle has endured. She was once stolen, and then recovered by Hunter himself.
“I came into work one morning, and my car wasn’t there, and there was broken glass on the ground. I called the police and then I put a post on Facebook that said, ‘Someone did not know how much I loved this car. It’s hurting my heart, I just can’t stand it. I have to have my car back.’ It wasn’t two hours until a lady called and said, ‘I just saw your car!’ I said, ‘Where?’ She said, ‘The Cracker Barrel on Harding Place. It’s parked in the parking lot.’
“So I drove out there and there it was. The window was broken out, so there was snow inside it. The police said that [some criminals] will steal those old cars because they can hot-wire the steering column easy. They will steal them to go commit a crime; and then they will leave them somewhere. They said it happens all the time.”
Belle has since been laid to rest. “It’s going to the giant junk heap in the sky,” Hunter said. “I’m heartbroken.”
To quote Hunt, himself: She was over me before the grass grew back where she used to park her car / She’s leaving those same marks in someone else’s yard.
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