Tuesday, February 06, 2007

How Nashville Became Music City, U.S.A.: 50 Years of Music Row by Michael Kosser

I read How Nashville Became Music City, U.S.A.: 50 Years of Music Row by Michael Kosser to prepare for a trip as a chaperon for my daughter's high school choir. Knowing that we were going to the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium, and other country music sites, I wanted to get more background on the history of Nashville music and learn the important names. This book was a good choice as it had some of the history that I wanted.

The subtitle of the book really indicates the focus. There is only passing mention of the Grand Ole Opry in this book. The main topic is Music Row, the Nashville neighborhood that includes all the recording studios and music publishers. Kosser tells how WSN radio technicians set up a studio in an old house and began recording musicians after their day jobs over 50 years ago, starting a new industry in the city. He chronicles how Nashville then attracted musicians from around the country and how the corporations became involved. The story is filled with controversies, including "What is country music?"

In a way, this book is mostly about the people who make the country music recording industry work. Kosser profiles music stars, studio musicians, song writers, disc jockeys, producers, record executives, and agents. Many of the names are not well-known beyond Nashville. Readers learn the entire process of making a hit record, from idea by a songwriter to the work of the record companies to promote the records to the radio stations and the public.

My favorite sections were about Chet Atkins and Ray Stevens. The funniest song title was "Old Flames Can't Hold a Candle to You."

Libraries with collections on the business of music will want this book.

Kosser, Michael. How Nashville Became Music City U.S.A.: 50 Years of Music Row. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard Corporation, 2006. ISBN 0634098063

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