Your Take: Country’s City
In his News Roundup on Tuesday, Brody noted Craig Havighurst, author of Air Castle of the South: WSM and the Making of Music City, posted an interesting response to the aliterative Tennessean article Is Country Crushing Nashville’s Creativity?, in which reporter Naomi Snyder talked with Music City musicians and academics to see if Nashville’s focus on the country and Christian genres is stifling its musical creativity as a whole.
Havighurst, however, refuted that notion on his Web site String Theory Media and suggested that there is a bigger idea to consider:
At the end of the day though Snyder is asking the wrong question. It makes country music, which is, bless its heart, just a business, sound malevolent towards Nashville’s jazz and hip-hop aspirants. I can’t see that they really care one way or the other. The related and much more vital issue is how far Nashville has come developing an alternative artist development infrastructure that will work in the 21st century, share-everything, post-FM radio, post MTV/CMT world. We became Music City with nationally powerful radio stations (WSM and WLAC) that broadcast Nashville-based pop, jazz, R&B, gospel and yes country music. We continued with a record business that for all its flaws, acted as a pretty amazing curatorial force for great and exceptionally diverse music. That lasted until sometime in the 1990s when the record business lost its way and mass exposure became just another commodity to be purchased on the open market, not a gift given to the most exceptional. People are building the models to replace the record industry at the center of the music business ALL AROUND THE WORLD. If we don’t build some of it here, the Music City dream could be in trouble.
Havighurst raises many interesting points, including Nashville’s role in a rapidly changing commercial music marketplace, which he proposes is the city’s more pressing problem.
What role in country music do you think Nashville will play in 10, 25, 50 years? Do you think it will always be the center of the genre, or, if it can’t profitably respond to the huge shifts in how modern music is being digested, could country’s home base be moved to other cities such as L.A., New York or even Austin?
- Donald: LOS, I need to second your mention of Ballad of Forty Dollars.
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- Donald: "Don't Forget the Coffee, Billy Joe" is just one of my many favourites!