i posted up about this a while back. forgive the indulgence here again. i'm just amazed at how well it's been received. also in october's vanity fair, i believe. MIGHT get into film?? this story is totally 1940s punk rock, if you ask me. boredom, booze, creativity, youthful energy.
anyway, i have a few extra review copies if anyone is dying to get behind the scenes. bundled with a CD. email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
How Nashville Became Music City, U.S.A.: 50 Years of Music Row
By Michael Kosser
B+ "Invaluable for anyone considering how art and commerce can harmonize." ―Entertainment Weekly
In 1942, in Nashville, the Opry's biggest star shook hands with a reformed alcoholic, who was an extraordinary songwriter. That handshake was the beginning of the Nashville music industry.
The history of Nashville is the history of American music—country, blues, rock n' roll, r&b, soul. It's where Elvis cut "Heartbreak Hotel"; where Bob Dylan turned a corner; where early recording techniques were hammered out and nailed down; where songwriters created their hits and record labels exploited them; where country music song publishing came of age; where legends were made and where infamy reigns. Since the early 1930s Nashville has taken its turn as both the ugly stepchild and the favored son, and everybody who's anybody has walked down her streets. How Nashville Became Music City USA is the story of how thousands of musicians, millions of fans and billions of dollars turned a small southern city into a huge music mecca.
Harold and Owen Bradley, Acuff-Rose, Tree Publishing, Chet Atkins and RCA Records, Elvis, Willie Nelson, WSM and the Grand Ole Opry, The Jordanaires, the Quonset Hut, Columbia Records, Bobby Braddock, Brenda Lee, Hank Williams, Roger Miller, Bill Anderson, Decca Records, Patsy Cline, Charlie McCoy, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, CMA, Jerry Kennedy, Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Quincy Jones, Hank Cochran, Eddy Arnold, Harlan Howard, Billy Sherrill, Faron Young, Ray Price, Buzz Cason, Joe Tex, Muscle Shoals, Jerry Wexler and Atlantic Records, Johnny Cash, Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, Al Gallico, the Everly Brothers, Shelby Singleton and Mercury Records, Dolly Parton, Robert Oermann, Ray Charles, Neil Young, Jimmy Bowen, Charley Pride, Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn, Bob Saporiti, and many more built the legend of Nashville, Tennessee. Their start and their stories are in this book.
"Essential...a rich recounting of the creative geniuses behind musical geniuses such as Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette, Waylon Jennings, Patsy Cline, George Jones and Charlie Rich... [A]ccompanied by a CD with finished tracks and priceless song demos, such as Bobby Braddock's version of his George Jones classic 'He Stopped Lovin' Her Today.' " ―VARIETY
"An excellent history of the country-music business, told by those who know... Insider Kosser uses a medley of first-person recollections, often with sly country wit, to explain how a subculture of Tennessee's capital turned it into the world's country-music capital. It was never about the deals, they remind us: It was always about the music, hoss, the music." ―KIRKUS
"By allowing those who've been there to tell their stories, music journalist and songwriter Michael Kosser shows how Music Row evolved... [A] real and definitive overview of Nashville's music business." ―PASTE
"Kosser...succeeds in painting a vivid panorama of artists and executives, many of them larger than life. Much of his book reads like transcripts of conversations held after work at Bobby's Idle Hour or the Sunset Grill, which is appropriate, given how business is done in this town." ―AMERICAN SONGWRITER MAGAZINE
"The book succinctly traces the history of the country music capital, from its single studio inside a modest house to it current 10-block industry." ―DALLAS MORNING NEWS [regionally syndicated]
"...the anecdotes contain some juicy details...anyone addicted to Country Music Television documentaries will find value in the pages." ―LIBRARY JOURNAL
"[H]ow the capital of the Volunteer state rose to be the king of country is a story in itself, brought to life in How Nashville Became Music City, U.S.A." ―GOLDMINE
"[A]n interesting history in a book I couldn't put down." ―MUSIC CITY NEWS
"Kosser's book...doesn't shy away from debates which still resonate down on the Row." — NASHVILLE SCENE
"If someone wants to know what really went into the making of Nashville as Music City, USA, then this is the book really need to read." ―NASHVILLE BUSINESS JOURNAL
"As informal as it is, this book is a historical landmark. Kosser knows the power of a good yarn to bring history alive." ―NASHVILLE BOOKPAGE
Some of the stories told in How Nashville Became Music City, U.S.A.
Hank Cochran recalls Patsy Cline—
"I called Patsy, 'I found the sonofabitch!' She said, 'What?' and I said, 'That hit we've been lookin' for.' She said, 'Well go get a bottle of whiskey and bring the sonofabitch over here.' You had to go all the way into Nashville to get to a liquor store, 'cause back then, you couldn't buy it out there in Goodlettsville, unless you knew the bootlegger, which I did. But I couldn't find one, so I drove all the way in and got a pint—'cause the money was tight—and drove out to her house, which was in Madison or Inglewood or somethin'. I went over there and I set the bottle on the table and she just twisted the cap off and throwed it down, took a big drink, and handed it to me. I took a big drink and she said, 'Now sing the sonofabitch.' So I sang it to her and she just went all to pieces, you know, and she said, 'Sing that again.' I took another drink, and she took another one, and I sung it again and she cried some more. Then she called [her manager] Randy Hughes and we sung it to him, and that sonofabitch was cryin' on the phone. Then we called Owen and [we sung it] and he got to cryin', you know. So we had half the town a-cryin' over that song. We went into the studio within the next day or so, the same bunch, and then, I'm scared to death. She's had two smashes, and now this one's all my song, and what if it don't hit, and I'll be the one that... But it skyrocketed! 'She's Got You' was Patsy's last number-one record, 'cause a year later she was dead."
Hank Cochran recalls Willie Nelson—
"We were sittin' up back at Tootsie's passin' the guitar, and this feller was singin' some songs and I asked, 'Whose songs are those?' And he said, 'They're mine.' I said, 'Well, who publishes 'em?' He said, 'Nobody. Nobody wants 'em.' I said, 'You won't be able to say that tomorrow. Can you get out to the office?' He said, 'Depends on where it is.' I told him, 'It's in Goodlettsville, it's about twelve, fifteen mile out there,' and he said, 'I can get out there if you can get me back.' He came out the next mornin' in an old green Buick. I had two dollars and I gave him one of 'em for gas. I went in and talked to Hal about signin' the guy. Hal said, 'We're fixin' to give you a raise of fifty dollars, and if we give it to him, you don't get your raise.' So I said, 'Well, give it to him, and I'll have somebody to work with, and we'll make it up somewhere down the road.' So he gave my raise to the guy, and that's how we signed Willie Nelson."
Tons of obscure Elvis stories—
"So we'd pressed 35,000 copies of 'Heartbreak Hotel' — I went in in the morning and I added up the first day's orders on Elvis, and they came to 62,000. My boss came in about ten minutes later and I said, 'Dave, Dave, we got 62,000 orders on 'Heartbreak Hotel.' He says, 'Call those simple sonsofbitches back at the plant and get a confirmation on those numbers!' It took me about a half an hour to get through to all three plants. I went back into my boss and said, 'Dave, that 62,000 figure is incorrect, it's now a little bit over ninety thousand!' In response to Elvis's unbelievable single sales, RCA made a quick decision to put out an album of all the Sun sides. We were gonna do our regular schedule, which meant it would take six months. We were having a joint meeting with the distributors, so my boss says, 'We've got this Presley album gettin' ready, it's gonna be out six months from now,' and one of the distributors cries out, 'We need it right away!' So he explained to them the four-color process, da-da-da-da, it takes so much time...' The distributor says, 'How long does it take to make the record itself?' The plant manager says, 'Well, we can make'em overnight.' The distributor says, 'I'll tell you what to do. Press those Elvis Presley LPs, put 'em in a plain white sleeve, ship 'em to me and I'll sell'em like that!' That's why that first Presley album only had a black and white photo of him, with pink lettering down one side and green lettering down the other, they could do that almost overnight. The album sold out almost before they could be put on the shelves."