Updated: Sep 19, 2019
Author: Chuck Dauphin
Rodney Crowell has seen a lot of change in Music City since he moved to town, and the highly-respected singer-songwriter – who releases his new Acoustic Classics album on July 13 – reflected on that change. “The urbanization of Nashville is certainly daunting because of traffic, but we are getting a lot better restaurants,” he admitted to Music Update Central.
“I dig it culturally, but when I came to Nashville in 1972, there was nothing remotely corporate about the music business in Nashville. There were certain mindsets in the business about what was commercial, and what would sell. That was very much a part of the mindset in certain circles. But, it didn’t seep into the creative community that I fell in – that Guy Clark was the center of, and Mickey Newbury from time to time, along with Townes Van Zandt. Dave Loggins was there, Harlan Howard – all of the creative conversation and the socialization around songs had nothing to do with making money. There was no conversation about making money. Good songs eventually earn money. I made a lot of money writing songs. But, nobody grabbed me by the shoulder when I was twenty-two years old and sit in an office with that I didn’t know, and tell me to come up with something that was going to make money. Instead, I hung out with some really great poets. I heard Townes play ‘Pancho and Lefty’ for the first time, and thought to myself, ‘Man, we’ve got to completely reboot.’ I’m sure that was the way it was in Greenwich Village the first time we heard ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ – whoever it was hanging around in that circle. It wasn’t about money. It was about ‘What can we write? What can we come up with?’ That’s the main difference between Nashville of then and Nashville now – besides the traffic.”
Music was dictating Crowell’s path – even before he was born. “My parents met at a Roy Acuff concert at Buchanan, Tennessee. It was 1942. In Henry County,” he recalls. So, the die was set for him from an early age, right?
“I suppose that it was, but a friend of mine who is wanting me to make a film about my career. He said ‘The beauty of your career is that you’ve never known where you were going until you got there.’ I thought ‘That’s really true.’ I had no secondary plan, and I certainly was putting myself into the wind, and was following it. I don’t think that I had any real sense of organizing my thoughts toward having a career. The wind was blowing me from day one, all the way back to my father loving Hank Williams, and playing and singing himself. The music was just there. I didn’t have the left side of my brain organizing things such that I knew how to reach out and get what I wanted. It just came from the other side of my brain. I just did it, and it led me here.”
To learn more: www.rodneycrowell.com