ABC’s Nashville (in the midst of its second season) has garnered a lot of critical praise. One aspect of the show that has been applauded has been the song choices for the characters, from superstars like Rayna James (Connie Britton) and Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) to up-and-comers such as Scarlett O’Connor (Clare Bowen) and Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio). That comes as no surprise when one finds that some of the most well-respected musicians and producers in the country have been in charge of selecting the songs that the characters sing on the show.
Legendary producer T-Bone Burnett was the Executive Music Producer for season one of the hit series. Burnett, who produced the soundtrack for O Brother, Where Art Thou? in addition to the work of artists such as Robert Plant and Patty Griffin, is one of the brightest minds in the business. His song choices in season one are predictably great. After Burnett stepped down at the end of the first season, the great Buddy Miller stepped in to fill the role for season two, and hasn’t missed a beat in recruiting some of the finest songwriters in Nashville to contribute to the show. Here’s a few well-known (and not so well-known) names in the business who have contributed to the show.
John Paul White – The Civil Wars frontman is an accomplished songwriter from Florence, Alabama. He wrote “If I Didn’t Know Better” (sung by Bowen and Palladio) and co-wrote “No One Will Ever Love You” (sung by Britton and co-star Charles Esten) with Steve McEwan.
Kacey Musgraves – The “Follow Your Arrow” singe co-wrote “Undermine” with singer-songwriter Trent Dabbs (sung by Esten and Panettiere).
Lucinda Williams – Williams is a legend in the Americana scene. Her 1998 album “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” earned her a Grammy. One of Williams’ unreleased tracks, “Bitter Memory,” was sung by Britton and produced by Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach.
Elvis Costello – The legendary songwriter contributed the unreleased “Twist of Barbwire” to the series for alt-country rocker Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson).
Caitlin Rose – The relative newcomer’s song “Waitin’” was used in season two for Bowen’s character. “Waitin’” is available on Rose’s album “The Stand-In,” released in March.
With musical mastermind Miller at the helm of picking songs for the series, there’s little doubt that the show will continue to unveil songs by great obscure and up-and-coming artists for the foreseeable future. Nashville airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST.
– Nick Dorney, The New 103.7 Charlotte