When it comes to American music, there is no other genre that represents the cultural roots of the nation quite like country music. The greats like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Marty Robbins and many others helped pave the way for those hits you hear on country radio today while you’re driving to work. The love of the country genre has witnessed it touch up against blues, western, swing, rock, and other genres. You might even be one of the millions of people trying to break into the industry, as a singer, writer or both. So, do you have what it takes to become the next Nashville Flash?
In a fantastic song from Elvis Nash, the writer speaks about a man and woman who’s surely going to make it on “Music Row,” the famous musicians’ area of Nashville, Tennessee, where so much of America’s greatest country music was born. He writes songs, so why wouldn’t they be hits?! She was a fan favorite, so surely she’s going to make it. This is paradoxically an attitude one needs to push through and make it in the industry, while simultaneously being the thing that chases so many out of the industry.
At this point in the proliferation of country music and its countless songwriters working tirelessly to contribute songs to labels and artists, some have taken to believe that there is no formula for success per se, and instead it’s more like a lottery. Will your number be picked?
Nashville Flash is a fun, upbeat, motivational song. Though the reality is that we don’t see too many overnight successes in Nashville anymore. Some of the top stars you see and hear, like Chris Stapleton and Luke Bryan, struggled for years as singer-songwriters before catching a break.
Murder on Music Row
Over two decades ago, country music legends Alan Jackson and George Strait sang “Murder on Music Row,” a song about how record labels had gotten so far removed from traditional country music that they wouldn’t even play Merle Haggard or George Jones on the radio. Many years later, country music is really more commercial than ever.
To hear that sort of raw, traditional country music today, you’re better off muting that radio and instead checking out independent creators on platforms like YouTube, SongCloud and other similar sites. What you hear on today’s radio is generally derivative with a lot of work put in via the studio to make songs very short, very catchy, easy to churn out, and more likely to profit for the merchants in charge of the labels.
A Competitive Sport
Songs like Nashville Flash speak to a dreamer’s perspective about country music and stardom in the genre. Artists like Elvis Nash remind us that you don’t have to turn on the radio to hear great music. The fact is that songwriting is a competitive sport all its own, and being a good singer is so common that there are dozens of reality shows based on it.
Anybody telling you they have answers to the questions within this genre is lying to your face. The only universal truth in country music is that good music can be found anywhere, and you don’t have to be the next Nashville Flash to make it.