Country Music People December 2018 - Page 25

Jake Brown with Josh Kear Nashville-based author Jake Brown takes us behind the scenes of the Music row hit machine in his latest book which features the stories behind 400 songs, 300 of them number one hits. He speaks to DUNCAN WARWICK I t’s all about the song. Three chords and the truth. These are phrases frequently cited when trying to define country music and if you think that the people behind the scenes penning the hits are the unsung heroes of country music, or if you’re a wannabe songwriter felling the irresistible tug of Music City and need a little advice from those who have been there and done it, or even if you’d just like to hear the stories behind some of the biggest songs in recent memory, then a new book by Jake Brown, Nashville Songwriter Vol.II, offers all of that and more. As the title implies, this is the second volume from the busy Nashville-based author who had previously put the likes of Bill Anderson and Tom T. Hall in the spotlight with 2014’s Volume One. This time around the songwriters featured tend to have come to prominence in the last decade and among the artists for whom they’ve supplied songs are country’s biggest hit-makers such as Carrie Underwood, Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, Kacey Musgraves, Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw and Cole Swindell. In all there are interviews with 35 of Music Row’s top songwriters covering 300 chart-toppers. Explaining the idea behind the book which gets behind the songs, author Brown, for whom this marks his 45th published book in 17 years says, “There’s been a lot of biographies on country music but there’s been no book series that profiles the stories behind, not only the songs which are popular in country music, but along with that the songwriters… and they’re the unsung heroes of country music. Percentage-wise it’s changing now because more writers are getting in the writing room with these people, but really for decades, and unique for country music, most of the hits you hear are not written by the artists who made them famous. They’re written by these songwriters. I wanted to create, if possible, the first really thorough anthology series that told the stories behind these men and women’s stories. How they got to Nashville? Did they come here to be stars? Did the come here to be songwriters? “The first book came out in 2014, and it had 19 profiles in there. This one has 35. The idea was to really try to get also as current - it took me four years because I write a lot of other books at the same time - this one I was constantly interviewing new songwriters but also constantly catching up with ones I already talked to because they kept having number ones. The idea was to get to 300. That was the number I set along with my publisher. There are closer to 400 in the book but 300 are number ones. “Another facet of country music that’s unique is that Country has two Number One charts - US Country Airplay and Hot 100 Country Songs. The demand and the amount of hits they are under pressure to turn out at any given time is huge.” DECEMBER 2018 - cmp 25