time to change the way we view music and the arts

“Nashville” – Everlasting editorial for songwriters?

Nashville TV show logo

ABC’s “Nashville” title logo.
(Cit. Nashville’s official Facebook profile photos)

Love is thing without expiration, right? As a subject, it has been the soul of more songs than can be counted throughout history. Nonetheless, it is an unfortunate truth of the modern day business we all work and take pleasure in, that not every one of these expressive tunes makes it to a place of equally powerful visibility.

Well, this is where ABC’s budding new show, “Nashville,” caught my attention.

I was intrigued right from the premiere of its first episode -and with good reason- as it hones in on the ever turning gears of the music industry in a way I had yet to see in any other music based show. Not only is the fictional story portion of the premise designed around musician/fan/management relationships but real life songwriters and real life recordings have hit the ears of the primetime public through each new installment; smoothly blended into both whole story lines and individual episode scenes with a level of grace that feels effortless. Names lesser known or having been previously shelved going the typical recognition routes are suddenly thrown center stage and not by the way of a simple little 30 second sync spot.

I just had a conversation with another accomplished writer; a man looking to stand out against the incessant river of news headlines that permeate the web daily, through his website, The Allegiant. Hearing that his site is meant to represent editorial material and that in his opinion, when compared to the sudden drop of news headlines, editorial doesn’t expire, that got me thinking. Then after I finished watching the newest Nashville episode, “There’ll Be No Teardrops Tonight,” off my DVR early this morning, it occurred to me:

“Nashville” is new but some of these songs are not. In this way, are the songs featured given an ‘immortal’ life much like that of editorial journalism?

Since ABC knows how crucial and legitimate the musical elements of Nashville are, and want to continue to be, the station has spared no expense for promotions. Not only is there plenty of push to make songs immediately available for purchase after first airing but the show’s webpage also contains video clips (serially titled, “Nashville: On the Record,”) uploaded after every episode, that feature the unseen songwriters of pieces from that night, often explaining the significance behind their composition (process) and how they feel about their song’s placement in Nashville.

Well, call it just a lucky collision of the show’s ambitions, a bit of instant musical attraction and one songwriter’s backstory but, after listening to the clip that accompanied last night’s song “Casino,” I couldn’t help contemplating where some of these tunes might be led to -whether it’s ongoing appreciation because of a love-driven lyric set or possibly ending up pigeon-holed as “just a song from that television show” because Nashville’s songs will always come back to that place.

The reason I connect to an idea of timeless editorial writing is because of the particular history to “Casino” that came straight from Natalie Hemby, one of Casino’s two writers:

Morgane Hayes and I wrote this song, probably back in 2008. We haven’t really written one since then ’cause we loved this one so much. I had just gotten back from a trip in Las Vegas. And she was actually telling me that she was going to be going to Vegas. So the subject matter was there but we didn’t actually sit down and go, ‘Hey let’s write Casino!’ We actually just kinda started from the top and slowly wrote our way through it. …I think it’s just sort of like a classic…

 I’m really excited about this song being on the show because, this song was written back in 2008 and a lot of people have looked at it and a lot of people have put it on hold and things like that. But um, I think that’s what’s great about Nashville’s show, is that these types of songs make it on the show and have a new life to ’em.

On the one hand, it is clear this treat of a tune had been overlooked until now. 2008 is ages ago in business years. Hits have come and gone in droves and yet, here is this song that is now deemed so perfect -not only for the episode’s emotional direction but as a piece of stand alone art unto itself. More over, as Hemby said, “classic” definitely goes together with love and loss.

Conversely, the interesting, somewhat unknown and ironic thing about such a timelessly themed song being permanently connected Nashville, is that one of the show’s other ongoing themes revolves around the two female leads, Rayna James (Connie Britton) and Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) both working tremendously hard to avoid getting locked in one place on the music industry’s map. James trying to reinvent to keep her long career relevant and Barnes trying to breakaway from the emotionally ‘one note’ artist package that brought her to fame.

Below is an acoustic performance of “Casino” performed by Hemby and Clare Bowen, who plays Scarlett O’Connor. Not the happiest song on Valentine’s Day but certainly a piece of music born out of sweet love that “started out full of promise.”

And I thought I had the chance, but I gave it away….
To the bright lights…
I was taken in by the spotlight, 
coming from the stare of your haunting eyes,
like a Vegas green glow.
 
Yeah…graspin’,
wishing I could roll the dice again.
You can always love but you can’t win.
A heart is like the money you blow.
…Casino

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