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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

7 musical works with unexpected roots in Nashville

Four local bands compete at Dance Marathon’s fundraiser on Saturday, January 27, 2018. (Photo by Bruce Brookshire)

Around the world, Nashville is predominantly associated with country music. However, the city’s large role in the rise of the recording industry in the 1940s and 1950s has led to significant contributions to all genres of music, earning Nashville a reputation as one of the largest hubs for American music. The following are only a few examples of unexpected albums and songs written and recorded in Nashville.

Bob Dylan – John Wesley Harding (1967)
After experimenting with the release of three albums of rock music, this 1967 album saw Dylan reverting to his folk roots. He brought his band to Nashville’s Columbia Studio for three short recording sessions, reflected in the sparse instrumentation of this album. Some highlights are “All Along the Watchtower” and “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight.”

Elvis Presley – Elvis is Back! (1960)
This album was the first collection that Presley recorded upon his return from two years serving in the U.S. Army. Much of the material was created during his military service in Germany, and later recorded at RCA Records with his usual band. This album includes some of his most famous blues hits, such as “Feels So Right” and “Such a Night.” Presley also recorded his hit single “Heartbreak Hotel” in Nashville in 1956.

R.E.M. – Document (1987)
R.E.M.’s fifth studio album, Document, secured their place as a top alternative rock group of the ‘80s. Recorded at Sound Emporium Studios, Document was the first of the band’s albums to reach platinum. Document features their Top 10 song “The One I Love” and “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).”

Neil Young – Harvest (1972)
This album features Young experimenting with a country-rock blend, as opposed to the classic rock genre of his solo career. The album, recorded at Quadrafonic Sound Studios, features notable artists such as David Crosby, Graham Nash, James Taylor and the London Symphony Orchestra. Young’s number-one hit, “Heart of Gold,” was released on this album, along with “Alabama,” which was an inspiration for Lynyrd Skynyrd’s classic “Sweet Home Alabama.”

Lady Gaga – “Million Reasons” (2016)
Behind some of country and pop’s most famous hits is Hillary Lindsey, a Nashville-based songwriter who made her claim to fame by writing “Jesus Take the Wheel” for Carrie Underwood, which was released in 2005. Lady Gaga was so taken by this song that she recruited Lindsey to co-write two songs for her album Joanne, “A-Yo” and the hit single “Million Reasons.” Lindsey can also be heard singing harmonies on the album.

Bon Jovi – Lost Highway (2007)
The tenth studio album recorded by the rock band Bon Jovi was recorded at Blackbird Studio. The album showcases a country music influence, following the success of producing a country version of their single “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” with Jennifer Nettles. Some highlights include “(You Want to) Make a Memory” and “Lost Highway.”

Meghan Trainor – Title (2015)
Though Nashville isn’t typically thought of as a center for American pop music, Meghan Trainor has taken full advantage of its recording industry. Parts of her 2015 album Title were recorded at The Carriage House, The Green Room and her own home studio. This list includes her chart-toppers “All About That Bass,” “Dear Future Husband,” and “Lips Are Movin’.”


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About the Contributor
Isabel Tannenbaum, Former Staff Writer
Isabel Tannenbaum ('21) was a student in Blair majoring in Violin Performance with minors in Viola and Neuroscience. She can be reached at [email protected].
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