Behind the Music of ABC’s ‘Nashville’

No new show has captivated me this season quite like Nashville. The hit ABC series set in the country music mecca, delves into the complicated and intertwined lives of music legend Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton), who is struggling to stay relevant, and troubled pop starlet Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere), who counts dethroning the aforementioned country queen among her life’s ambitions.

The difference—and clincher, as far as I’m concerned—between Nashville and most television dramas out there is that this show doesn’t count solely on plot twists and turns to drive the story. Nashville’s got a band of songwriters composing original music (much of which has become popular on iTunes) to help tell this town and its talented dwellers’ tales.

Thousands of songs come across show Creator and Executive Producer Callie Khouri’s desk. It’s up to her and the show’s music team to decide which melodies and accompanying lyrics suit the story and each character.

“One of the things that’s really fun about doing this show is when you hear the songs and then you have to figure out which character came up with it,” Khouri says. “So you’re actually kind of having these imaginary writing sessions with your character and you know what every line means for them when really there are other great writers that wrote it. It’s weird; it takes on its own new reality.” The final cuts are catchy, toe tapping, at times cheeky and, often, hauntingly beautiful songs. Just the way great American music should be.

Capping off each of these thoughtful musical journeys, which turn into stirring performances by Nashville’s talented cast, is renowned real-life music producer T Bone Burnett. The Grammy® and Academy Award® winner, who just so happens to be married to Khouri, serves as executive music producer on the show, and has a personal stake in making sure each of the songs is perfectly crafted.

“The reason this show is important to me is that music is to the United States as wine is to France—we’ve defined ourselves through music really since the beginning of our country,” the respected American musician said in a recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine. “The world of the musician has gotten dismantled in the last 20 years due to new realities in technology; and Nashville is the last bastion; Nashville is the Alamo. This show shows the human side of musicians and the real-life struggles that we have; I think it’s a positive thing.”

I couldn’t agree more. Nashville’s moving stories and poignant music have struck a chord with this viewer and audiences across the country. I’ll definitely be tuning in for more!