Book Review: Nashville Songwriter

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Nashville Songwriter
By Jake Brown
(BenBella Books)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

It’s always been hard for a songwriter of any genre to get a cut. And it’s tougher than ever today, unless a writer has outrageously good connections and/or a song that absolutely floors not only an artist, but his or her producer, label, management, and everyone else who gets a piece of the pie. And then there are all the disappointments that come with the writing game – broken marriages, financial failures, ruined friendships…the songwriting business is about all of that, and only the heartiest of souls survive, much less thrive.

Author Jake Brown, in Nashville Songwriter, covers it all in interviews with writers who have given their lives to the craft, and in some cases, the stage. Brown does an excellent job of getting some of Music Row’s best-known writers to open up and tell about their trials, tribulations, smashes and crashes. Writers who had memorable hits decades ago, some who have bounced around the charts for years, and some who are currently on top of the heap are all there. Every one of them has a story or two or three about songs that got cut and went nowhere, songs they never imagined anyone would like that became number ones, and songs that changed the lives of the writers, the artists, and the listeners.

Featuring excellent, uncensored in-depth interviews with Craig Wiseman (Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying”), Rivers Rutherford (Brooks & Dunn’s “Ain’t Nothing ‘Bout You”), Lee Thomas Miller (Jamey Johnson’s “In Color”), David Lee Murphy (Jason Aldean’s “Big Green Tractor”), legends like Merle Haggard and Bill Anderson, and more than a dozen others, this is a book you won’t be able to put down. It’s no surprise that this book is as good as it is, given the fact that the author has written, or helped write, nearly three dozen published books about music industry figures from Tori Amos to the Meat Puppets.

This isn’t an expose, but a real account of what songwriters go through in their struggles to get in, and stay in, the game. It makes no difference if you love or hate what is produced by the Music Row of yesterday or today, or if you’re a songwriter, a lover of songs, or just a music fan. Nashville Songwriter is an outstanding read from cover to cover. If you have any interest at all in what goes on behind the scenes in the songwriting business, you need to read this book.

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