THE NASHVILLE SOUND
As legend tells it, Queen Victoria herself dubbed Nashville the "Music City" back in 1873 during a visit from the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Over 150 years since, countless troubadours have followed the radio waves to Nashville, each in pursuit of their own neon dreams. WSM and the Opry. Acuff-Rose and Music Row. The 70s Nashville Sound and its Outlaw rebellion, New County in the 90s and today's Americana jubilee. It's a whole lotta sound.
In celebration of Wildsam Nashville, we’ve created two Spotify playlists for listeners interested in the city's deep-cut music history.
This is a Nashville Music PhD course: a 143-track chronological playlist of songs and artists who've shaped the Music City, from Uncle Dave Macon to Kacey Musgraves. This 8-hour introduction traverses a broad soundscape, leaving room for good debate on who's in and who's out.
Note: Determining who qualifies for a Nashville playlist is challenging, as relatively few artists were raised in the area, and some of the artists raised there did little recording in Nashville (e.g. Duane and Greg Allman). We tried to only select artists who meaningfully contributed to the Nashville music scene with songs that were recorded in Nashville.
A few noteworthy inclusions:
+ Fisk Jubilee Singers - In the Great Gettin’ Up Mawnin’ (1915) "Music City" inspiration
+ Uncle Jimmy Thompson - Billy Wilson (1926) First on WSM’s Barn Dance, Opry precursor
+ Uncle Dave Macon - Carve That Possum (1927) First Opry headliner
+ DeFord Bailey - Davidson County Blues (1929) First Opry performer; first African-American country star
+ Roy Acuff - Wabash Cannonball (1936) "King of Country Music," co-founder of the first Nashville record label and first inductee into Country Music Hall of Fame
+ Francis Craig - Near You (1947) First hit record recorded in Nashville
+ Bill Monroe - Uncle Pen (1950) Inventor of bluegrass; genre named after his long-time band, the Blue Grass Boys
+ Ray Price - Crazy Arms (1956) Popularized the 4/4 shuffle beat
+ Kitty Wells - Searching (For Someone Like You) (1956) First Female Country Star
+ Jim Reeves - Four Walls (1957) First track to employ "Nashville Sound"
WILDSAM NASHVILLE 50
Here you go: A killer 50-track Nashville playlist. It caused a few dust-ups in the office. Clocking in at a lean 2:48 due to country music's radio-friendly runtimes, this list is perfect for a summer barbecue or road trip from Memphis.
This is not a full survey of Nashville music history -- many great artists and some entire eras were excluded. It biases towards country classics, singer-songwriters and the new Americana movement. A mix of massive hits and B-side cuts.
The Nashville Sound, by Paul Hemphill. This lesser-known reportage is a lyrical time capsule to the Music City, circa 1970.