A recent documentary on famous singer song writer Dolly Parton showed her performing a 50th anniversary show at the Grand Ole Opry. This is a weekly American country music stage concert in Nashville, Tennessee, which was founded on November 28, 1925, by George D. Hay as a one-hour radio ‘barn dance”. It is the longest-running radio broadcast in US history.
It is also the reason why Nashville is the country song writing capital of the United States.
One of the opening interviews in the documentary It All Begins With A Song: The Story of the Nashville Songwriter is with Rodney Crowell who wrote for Bob Seger, Johnny Cash and Keith Urban. He frames the discussion about Nashville and how important it is for songwriters in the United States
Songwriters were always travelling to perform on the Grand Ole Opry on the weekend and did not have time to write. They did not have luxury buses at that stage, and Nashville became a centre for songwriters.
It All Begins With A Song: The Story of the Nashville Songwriter is a 82-minute film explores how Nashville became such a successful songwriting community examining their creative process, the inspiration for their writing, their struggles and the impact of their songs.
Dolly Parton does feature momentarily in the documentary as she has a strong Nashville background. But the focus in this documentary is on people who are relatively unknown, but the moment, you hear their songs you realise their impact.
The documentary has 80 interviews with songwriters and industry including Jessi Alexander, Garth Brooks, Mac Davis, Bob DiPiero, Mikky Ekko, John Hiatt, Brett James, Claude Kelly, Shane McAnally, Keb’ Mo’, Brad Paisley and Ray Stevens. Some are famous and some are not.
The real star is Nashville. Any town where the banks have stages, is a fascinating place to explore and this documentary does a terrific job. The documentary shows the generosity of established writers to new ones, but it does not shy from the hardships of rejection endured by writers.
What really makes the documentary soar is when the writers perform their songs and some are just sensational – for example, the singer-songwriter Caitlyn Smith is simply wondrous.
Perhaps the highlight is the story behind Whiskey Lullaby with its killer lyric – ‘He put that bottle to his head and pulled the trigger, and finally drank away her memory.’ When Alison Kraus sings it with Brad Paisley, it is just sublime. The story behind it makes it richer.
It is a fascinating and well-made documentary about a town that has produced some of greatest music in America focussing on people who are unfairly neglected.
It All Begins With A Song: The Story of the Nashville Songwriter was created by the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. It was produced by the NCVC, along with John Godsey and VML, a global marketing agency. It was directed by Chusy Jardine of Plan A Films.
Video supplied by Tricoast Entertainment.