By Cheryl Costello
A Memphis recording artist has penned a song featuring some familiar geography along the Annapolis waterfront.
Former Navy football player Chris Nurthen wrote Bay Dale about a special neighborhood that became a haven for him to get away from the rigors of Naval Academy life.
We talked with Nurthen about the local memories that inspired the song.
Bay Dale, won’t you let me in, Nurthen sings as his music video plays images of the Bay Dale Drive exit sign on Route 50, recognizable to anyone who has ever sat in Bay Bridge traffic.
When Nurthen returned each semester to the U.S. Naval Academy, he stayed with his aunt and uncle in the Bay Dale community. They served as his sponsor family, and their home off Bay Dale Drive was where he felt at home.
The 2015 USNA graduate, who was a defensive lineman on the football team, sings, There’s one thing I look forward to before I head back to school, it brings me back into my bones.
“It was like my sanctuary before going back to the academy,” Nurthen says. “It was a major cornerstone of really good family quality time we had growing up.”
Nurthen often had his guitar out while spending time with family in Bay Dale. He started playing in high school and continued to write songs during the five years he was deployed on Navy warships.
He says the song gets right to the heart of what midshipmen feel: Back to the uniforms, wakeup calls…
“We kind of grew up fast at the academy. And it wasn’t like your typical college experience, so we were going back to work…No regrets at all about being there. It’s just hard.”
Nurthen came up with his recently released song while sitting around his aunt and uncle’s living room just after his aunt passed away.
“We had come back for her funeral a week or two later and I wrote that song with our family gathered around. At the end [of the music video] we have footage of us being in the kitchen that day, singing the song as a family.”
Now living in Memphis, Nurthen is focusing on his music and runs a mobile catering company with his wife Keri called SweetNur’s—a play on his last name. To get his music in to the community, he performs house shows at gatherings where they cater meals.
“What I hope is, even if we can’t become a national act, I hope there’s enough proof that I can write a good song and can be in the room with people who want to write with me,” Nurthen says of his musical ambitions.
The songwriter is still active duty in the Navy Reserve.
You can watch Nurthen’s entire music video for “Bay Dale” here: youtube.com/watch?v=IBLwvPEvq9k