Hollywood vs. the Nashville Music Scene

As seen in Hortense Powdermaker’s publication Hollywood the Dream Factory, the industry of writing in Hollywood can often fall into the pattern of a formula. There is the desire to create an entirely different story, and original, while at the same time not wanting to forget that maybe what you as a creator have in mind isn’t what the audience wants. The writer has no control over what Hollywood will make of them, what producers will make of them, what viewers will make of them. So much of it is risk taking and some times rather than taking that risk, it is easier to just completely rule out the idea of writing an original all together. On page 175, Powdermaker says that “some writers do not consider it good business to write originals. They say it is better to write first for production and then have the studio buy it. In this way they make more money and have greater satisfaction since in writing they do not have to follow the restrictions of the Production Code and the other conventionalities of Hollywood”. Powdermaker then goes onto to explain the feeling that writing the original over the “formula” type story is so much cheaper. If you’re just starting out, you can’t waist the money and time on things that may in the end not get you any jump start or attention. The main goal of Hollywood is the money, and that’s where the writers head should be set.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 7.23.29 PMAlthough I’ve never experienced even a single second of Hollywood, looking at this idea of not wanting to write something original, as a songwriter, it is a concept that I personally could not find myself doing. Thankfully, I’ve been lucky to connect with other musicians who feel the same way because in our minds, making something that we’re proud of and comfortable with is so much more enjoyable than writing for the sake of money. This original over formula writing seems to be a more common theme through out the music scene in Nashville. Compared to Powdermaker’s interpretation of Hollywood, the entertainment industry in Nashville seems to almost be a polar opposite. Sure, here and there you have the stars, the singers and performers who are also followed by the tabloids and false headlines. But still, even these names are surrounded by musicians and producers who at least express a passion to just make music for their own pleasure.

The Grand Ole Opry

The Grand Ole Opry

There also seems to be a different type of relationship between the writer and producer in the music world than the film world. This, however, does not come as to much of a surprise. The writer in the film industry would never be expected to work with the same producer and director every single time. The support for their writings and creations isn’t going to be exactly the same crew every single time. Production crews change, directors take different jobs, actors take different jobs. However, on the music side of things, writers and producers often seem to stay connected with each project. Many times, a writer or artist gets comfortable with a certain producer and there is a connection. They work together to build the songs and it becomes a work of collaboration with each record, song or project. It is not a type of relationship where one person does one job before passing the project along to the next source.

Dann Huff (right) in studio

Dann Huff (right) in studio

It’s a case of working together and really building a relationship, something country producer and bass play Dann Huff seems to do really well. He’s continuously worked with names such as Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, Faith Hill, Hunter Hayes, Taylor Swift. The list of naes goes on and on for Dann Huff as a producer but one thing that he has in common with all these Nashville artists is a teamwork mentality. It’s also reocurring. He continues to work on projects with each of these artists and this friendship type connection seems to be very popular setting in the world of Nashville.

Of course these professionals in Nashville also have that goal of making money. I mean come on, every professional does. That obviously has to also come with the title. But so often in Nashville it is expressed that the main goal of an album and song is to just be music. There is the simple hope of someone out there listening to the song and connecting with it in someway, whether it be through the lyrics, the beats, or the strums. Places such as the Bluebird Cafe and the Grand Ole Opry are buildings that express this very nature of Nashville, a “For the Love of Music” mentality.

Lori McKenna(center) just moments before the Bluebird Cafe.

Lori McKenna(center) just moments before the Bluebird Cafe.

These are small stages and platforms where musicians and songwriters come together and just share their writings and stories just for the sake of sharing. It’s what these places of Nashville are famous for. One of my biggest heroes and mentors Lori Mckenna, an amazing country songwriter right for our streets of Stoughton, MA once reminded me herself that my purpose of writing must always remain my passion. For her, if you let go of your own creations and beliefs, then the greatest pieces of that story you are trying to tell are completely lost. If you just fall into the streak of giving producers what they want for the sake of getting your name heard, then the story isn’t real. For Lori, it isn’t worth working in an equation or formula and I happen to agree. Writing that original, no matter who hears it or likes it, just feels so much more rewording.

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