Marshall Chapman is a great storyteller and apparently a great listener as well. Because after publishing a memoir of her journey from South Carolina debutante to Music City maven, rocking singer songwriter and confidante of outlaws (Goodbye Little Rock and Roller), she followed it up with a book of interviews, where she does only about ten percent of the talking. It’s titled They Came To Nashville, and it’s a fun and probing set of conversations with 15 country music hot shots about THEIR Nashville journeys. Most are old friends, so Marshall draws out great stories and smart, funny repartee – from the likes of Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, John Hiatt, Bobby Bare and Kris Kristofferson.
Marshall, who has played our show before, is a great ambassador for Music City, so we asked her to come back and curate a show built around some of her super-talented musical friends. And man, did she deliver. This Wednesday will be a songwriting spectacular with three guests who have been part of Marshall’s life and who are part of her book. So by way of introducing them, and by way of doing as little work on my blog as possible, I thought let’s hear a snippet from the tales of Nashville arrival from each of her guests and ours.
Mary Gauthier was a late bloomer in songwriting, so she didn’t come to Nashville impetuously: “I didn’t fit in the folk scene in Boston, but I knew I didn’t want to come to Nashville prematurely, ‘cause somebody early on had told me, “You’ve got one chance to make a first impression.” So I knew I needed to suck in Boston – get that out of the way before I came to Nashville. I was old enough to know I had some growing to do as an artist, and mountains to climb on stage before I could even begin to be comfortable with it. . . But I knew I was going to come to Nashville, because in my mind – and I still believe this – the best songwriters in the world are in this town.”
Rodney Crowell didn’t know he was going to make friends with Guy Clark or release an album with five number one hits when he first arrived in town. Hell, he didn’t know where to find a room: “I had a guitar case. I don’t even know if I had a suitcase. So I laid down in the grass and slept until I got all dewed up and woke up with the sun, then started to take stock: ‘Okay, We’re here. Now I wonder what’s going on?’”
Don Henry, writer of CMA Song of the Year “Where’ve You Been” and dozens of other wonderful songs, came to Nashville having done his homework: “I knew all the songwriters before I even moved here. But you know what? I knew all the engineers, and I knew ALL the musicians. The musicians were my heroes. And the songwriters, of course, because that’s where I wanted to be But new every credit and who played what on every record.”
Everybody has their own unique story about how they discovered the Nashville dream and made it their own. We’ll hear from all four artists on stage about what makes Music City special in their eyes. And we’ll hear some of the songs that have made it special in our ears. It’s certainly going to be a special night.