If you ever find yourself in Nashville you will doubtless find yourself taking a walk down Music Row, You’ll then realise it’s really two rows and and a few side streets. I often imagined these streets before I finally managed to arrive in 2007. On my first night there I decided to jog round the block. It quickly became clear that it was far too warm for that and I ended up strolling down 17th and 18th Avenue Sth on a warm Sunday evening when there was no one around. I loved the banners – ‘Fifth Straight week at #1 for….’ and the writers of the song’s names and their photographs would be beaming out from various offices of music publishers. Each of them would highlight their various successes and each banner would puzzle me a little further. Half-thinking I’d perhaps know a few of the names of the artists or even the occasional writer, I was dismayed to realise I knew nothing. Going round the block in 2015 there will still be many artists and writers who I haven’t yet discovered…so it’s an ongoing knowledge battle.
Of course, I did what I always do in these situations; I turned to the radio. I travelled around in my (over-sized) rental car and I trawled the megahertz to find country music I liked and didn’t like. I found country stations, top forty, college and I dipped in and out of all of them. When I’d had too much country I would find an oasis of soul or an obscure indy half hour with mumbled hipster DJs. I loved it. Following hot country songs isn’t difficult. When a song is hot it’s hot and you’ll hear it on all the FM Country stations. That may either prove a deterrent or a draw but when you find a gem the chances are you’re counting down the minutes until you hear it again.
On Tuesday night we welcome an artist who gave one of these moments a few years back. Chris Young’s Neon came on during a journey around Nashville one day and I went home and found it. It brings together two great things: a monstrously great country-barritone voice and a rather subversive lyric that implies all is not well, or it is if only you could share this lonely soul’s slightly skewed world-view. :
The windows are tinted
That’s why they invented
Neon, the light they always leave on
The weekend on the rocks
An old school jukebox
With a little Johnny Lee on
It’s the buzz I love to be on
You put a double on your troubles on line
This end of the tunnel is always neon
But wasn’t it ever thus? Neon – interestingly – stopped a run of 5 singles which went to the No.1 spot on the Country Chart. I wondered what the banners on Music Row that day. We will be honoured to have Chris Young and his band live in session on Another Country this Tuesday squeezed between their only two UK shows At London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire and Glasgow’s ABC. We will hear songs from the past as well as some exclusives from his forthcoming new album, ‘I’m Comin Over.’ It’s going to be a very special night indeed.
We’ll also hear new music from Craig Finn, Carrie Underwood, Tom Russell and Flo Morrisey. We’ll hear some pre-loved songs from Roy Acuff and The Louvins and we’ll please (at least) one of our regular listeners by revisiting that Delines album from last year.
Join us from five past nine this Tuesday if you can.
My special guest will be the BBC’s former India correspondent, Sir Mark Tully. We’ll talk about why he has spent his entire life on the sub continent and why he is happy to remain there even in retirement.
As politics fail again in Northern Ireland we’ll take the spiritual temperature from our Four-Corners friends across the ecumenical divide to ask how their own parishioners are getting on with the ‘Peace Process.’
Music from Trembling Bells, BB King, Joan Shelley and Sandy Denny. We’ll be on from five past ten and you can find both shows on BBC Radio Scotland.