When I was a kid my big sister brought some of her friends round. One of the girls in her class played guitar and sang. The hapless school chum was marched into the kitchen by my sister and asked to perform for my mum and dad. I remember thinking how powerful that moment was. Everyone was captured by the song and the voice…but the song…oh the song was the thing.
I can’t remember which song it was though it might well have been Tom Paxton’s, ‘The Last Thing On My Mind’ or Joni Mitchell’s ‘Circle Game’ or another late sixties post folk revival classic but the main thing was the song stopped me in my tracks and it was another event which made me want to get my name in brackets.
On this week’s Nashville Special (Part 2) we explore the songs and the songwriters. Such is the potency of the former in Music City that it is estimated up to 30,000 of them live in the city. Such is the influence of the latter that you’ll find them credited at the end of each Music promo shown on CMT – a credit unimagined in the world of pop, rock and R ’n’ B. I’ve said it before but if you want to give Nashville capital status for anything it may well be the centre of the Country world but it is also the world centre of songwriting. A couple of years ago Beth Nielson Chapman told the story of her astronomy project in which she collaborated with one of the scientists who also happened to be…yes, a songwriter. On our walking tour of the city Bill Demain shared a great story of how Conway Twitter escaped jail for tax fraud by a judge who also happened to be…a song writer.
This week we meet the songwriters: Liz Rose the woman who ‘discovered’ Taylor Swift and along with the Love-Junkies, Lori McKenna and Hilary Lindsey brought us Girl Crush, Shane McAnally whose recent hits include Sam Hunt, Musgraves, Sheryl Crow and Kenny Chesney.
We will also take you inside the Bluebird Cafe and meet the women behind the songwriters’ showcase venue of choice. We’ll hear the story of how Nashville the soap is changing the fortune of songwriters from the executive producer, Mr Buddy Miller.
Finally I want toe explain that we are devastated at the news of Merle Haggard’s death. We want to take time to pay respects to Merle properly and we will certainly be doing that next week when I’ll talk more about his incredible career in this blog. Join me this Tuesday evening if you can from 9 on BBC Radio Scotland.