Issue 38: Boston's Queen of Folk
I have a plot idea for the TV show “Nashville” to save it from cancellation.
But before we go there, I have admit something that may make you cringe … I am a fan – or was a fan – of the show. I’m kind of over it now, but for a while it was pretty entertaining.
Now the explanation: Just as some only read Playboy only for the articles, I watched mostly for the songs.
I started tuning in last year, early in Season 2. The buzz about the show’s music following Season 1 hooked me. There was much ado about T Bone Burnett being the musical director of the drama (his wife is the show’s creator) bringing real songwriters’ work to the forefront.
There was also a divorce, rubble from a drunken car crash, music label battles, a secretly gay country cowboy … and of course romantic trysts and their aftermaths. All very intriguing.
And there was also some great music. The songs are what really got me coming back each week.
We’re now into Season 3, and my interest in the show is waning.
Dramatically, the characters haven’t really grown. The country cowboy is still secretly gay, though there are, of course, weekly close calls and threats to out him. The show could have actually made some social progress if instead of going for high drama, they had confronted the issue of what it is like to be a gay country star, but this is a soap after all.
But the bigger issue with the show is that the music has suffered – or at least has been pushed more into the background. Maybe that’s why T Bone left or was pushed out. Burnett was replaced by the equally great Buddy Miller, so I don’t expect the producers didn’t like the musical direction.
All in all, the depth of the show has suffered greatly. I still watch it, but I don’t care very much if I miss an episode here or there. I’m not as interested since there are fewer songs per episode. I pretty much know I can pick up the plot anytime since it doesn’t change a lot.
Now, after all that, I now give you the plotline that will save “Nashville”: What the show needs is a new character, one who doesn’t fit the mold of the show’s country music scene.
Picture this musical outsider coming in from out of town, with completely amazing songs. But they’re not country songs, they’re folk songs. This person is a woman, but she’s not single and looking for a man. Instead, she’s happily married, with five kids.
A folksinger from Boston who is married with five kids, who comes to Nashville and blows everyone away with her songs of small-town life and all its trials and tribulations.
What? Not believable? No one would ever go for it?
All I can say is that Lori McKenna is the real deal. Check out our story.
And as always at this time of year, its also worth checking out our Favorites of the Year list. It’s a good chance to take stock of another great year of hearing music, whether it’s a new album, live in concert or even on TV.
“September Fields,” “Indian Ocean,” Frazey Ford – That voice is mesmerizing.
“Birches,” “Milltowns,” Mark Erelli – The reason we should know who Bill Morrissey is.
“Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer,” “Remedy,” Old Crow Medicine Show – Almost more fun than ... well, you know.
“Tennessee Mud,” “Trigger Hippy,” Trigger Hippy – Give me that old-time (’70s) rock ’n’ roll.
“One More Cup of Coffee” “Desire” Bob Dylan – OK, this is a song from 1976. But for some reason, I had never heard it before, and now I can’t stop listening to it.