On a morning like this, crisp, bright and bathed in autumn colour my mind goes back ten years or so to an early visit to Music City. It was mid October in Nashville and on every stoop and porch they were preparing the ground for Halloween. Pumpkins and fall fruit would be scattered over the entrances to the houses of the songwriter as I found my way to suburban writing sanctuaries. The sun was out but there was a little chill in the air compared to my earlier visit in the heat of late spring. In my midtown hotel no-one was seriously thinking of dipping into the swimming pool apart from the odd visitor from Scotland and fires were lit in the grates where dried flowers had been laid months before.
On these early visits to Nashville I stumbled from one writing session to the next. Sometimes the thrill of the experience could be as quickly extinguished by the trauma of the writing session. I’ll never forget my excitement at realising I was to be writing in the Orbison building only to find the session itself made me question everything I’d ever known about the craft. I came back to my hotel room and started to look for the quickest flight home. I was still searching for an exit the next day when I met the great Bob DePiero and he made me feel like I could hold on until the end of my visit. In miniature my experience of these writing days made me understand what many of the artists we play on Another Country experience. Stars in Hicksville Alabama, Georgia or Mississippi; they step off the bus in Twang Town believing it’s where they belong only to find they have to start climbing up the ladder of a lifetime. You may never be convinced about the worth of some of Music Row’s brightest stars but it is only fair to say they have worked a gruelling apprenticeship. All year round they assemble in writing rooms, publishing houses and back bedrooms as they clamber, one song at a time, to the top of the tree.
On this Tuesday’s Another Country we’ll walk some of these streets and cross the thresholds with our very own correspondent who has been in the rooms and knows the city as well as anyone…Mr Bill DeMain. Bill will be telling us a little about that Dolly Parton celebration at the Opry a few weeks back. Dolly, if it needs pointed out, followed the same songwriting career path outlined above and is still the inspiration for so many young hopefuls who come to the city. Bill will give us his own tales from the city live from The Row as well as bringing his tips for future listening.