“I played on three of Bob Dylan’s albums. I have very pleasant memories, especially the Nashville Skyline album was a real fun album to do. He was glad to be in Nashville, where the musicians were very laid back and very creative.” -Charlie Daniels
They say that more songs are written before noon in Nashville than in any other place in the country. Visiting there recently I surmised that this declaration is true, as nearly every other person you meet claims to be a songwriter. (Brad Tisdel would surely be impressed.) This is a town full of energetic, creative and hopeful musicians all conspicuously eager to make it big, especially in the world of country.
Loretta Lynn remembers a different kind of town. When she first came to Nashville, people hardly gave country music any respect. She said she lived in old cars and dirty hotels and ate when she could. But she was hopelessly devoted to her craft.
Times have changed as Taylor Swift, who wanted to be a country artist since she was ten and began dragging her parents to festivals and karaoke contests, got discovered. She went to Nashville for the first time when she was 11 with a demo CD of Dixie Chicks and Leanne Rimes songs. She was unwaveringly bound to be a country singer/songwriter and has a home there now.
This star packed area, which is on the edge of a growth spurt with Music City Center at 1.2 million square feet (designed in the shape of a guitar), has been home to many country legends including Johnny Cash, Kenny Chesney, John Rich, Kellie Pickler, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Miley Cyrus, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw.
Faith has remarked that Nashville is one of the greatest places for the best songwriters in the world. “It’s been fantastic to live there and to raise our family there. It’s a great town.”
The recording studios are celebrated, emitting numerous stars from the Woodland Studios, where Steve Earl now lives (and records), to The Castle Recording Studios (Keith Urban, Etta James and Neil Young), once home to Al Capone and now a state-of-the-art studio. Music Row is well-known quarters to hundreds of businesses related to the country, gospel and Contemporary Christian music industries.
At The Castle we encountered some of the most successful songwriters of the day: Don Sampson, Wynn Varble, Darryl Worley and Mark Daniel Sanders, who created hits songs for the likes of Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley and Alan Jackson.
And what would country music be without costumer and artist Manuel, the legendary designer of Johnny Cash’s black ensemble, some of Bob Dylan’s funky fashions and Dwight Yokum’s sexy country boy look? We visited his studio with his charming son, Manny, and were treated to a view of country pop culture complete with extraordinary embroidery and rhinestones.
When I went to Nashville I expected to hear great country music, the city even plays the genre from loud speakers in the streets. What I didn’t expect was to encounter so my songwriters, creating the true foundation of a remarkable recording, their experience, travels, love and loss all strung out in a great story. I could write an entire book on Nashville, but for today I’ll just say I love Nashville!
Have a dreamsicle kind of day.
by PAMELA HULSE ANDREWS Cascade A&E Publisher