It’s ten years since I first set foot in Music City. My first time there was a beautiful baptism by immersion of (in no particular order) the south, the songwriting world and country music. I’m a fan of the USA. I enjoy being there immensely and I love experiencing new cities and new states …but Nashville…oh I could never live in LA or New York but I think I could get on fine in Nashville.
My publisher had set me up on writing dates for the best part of nearly two weeks and it often felt like house viewing; within five minutes you know you’ll never move in. Similarly with the writing sessions – you take a look at your fellow writer and your heart lifts – or on one or two occasions on that first visit – it hits the floor. I met some amazing people and I mostly enjoyed the ride with all songwriters having a great ability to tell a story or two. It was on this trip or the one a few months later where I first encountered Darrell Brown.
Darrell lived in a beautiful house out in West Nashville and we spent a great day together (including an introduction to the southern concept of macaroni cheese as a side dish.) It was Darrell, perhaps more than anyone, that confirmed what I had knew already: a good song is a good song and it doesn’t really matter what genre it’s in. We never finished the song – probably because we enjoyed each other’s company a little too much and by the end of my visit he’d called a friend and got me on the guest list for a sold out show at The Ryman by Patty Griffin. I have a lot to thank him for. On my next visit to Nashville and to Darrell I walked past his car in the garage and couldn’t help notice an oversized keyboard filling most of the back seat. ‘Were you doing a gig, Darrell?’
‘Oh yes,’ he smiled back. Turned out he’d been playing a round at The Bluebird the previous evening. I pushed him a little harder for details. How had it been, did he get nervous doing these things with these other ace writers? Turns out he did but…he looked at me knowingly…..’I had a ringer. LeAnn Rimes.’ It turned out LeAnn had turned up and sung with him on the songs he’d written for and with her. Now that is a Bluebird Night we’d all have loved to have seen.
Cut to 9 years later and Darrell Brown is sipping coffee with me at Pacific Quay as we wait on our guest to complete her preparations. Darrell is now on the promotional trail with the same LeAnn – still as songwriter collaborator, but now also as producer and manager. The last 9 years has been an interesting journey for both of us and we spend a little bit of time catching up.
It turns out that songwriting had brought such a strong bond between Darrell and LeAnn that he’d become the person she relied on to guide her career. So on this week’s Another Country we bring you the day I met Darrell again and he brought along his ‘ringer’.. the amazing double Grammy, CMA, AMC award winning Miss LeAnn Rimes. In a frank conversation about family, performing, her remarkable 20 year career and her relationship with my pal Darrell. Oh yes…and she’s singing exclusively for us too. Join us if you can this Tuesday on BBC Radio Scotland.