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They Came to Nashville

Marshall Chapman

Publication Year: 2010

Marshall Chapman knows Nashville. A musician, songwriter, and author with nearly a dozen albums and a bestselling memoir under her belt, Chapman has lived and breathed Music City for over forty years. Her friendships with those who helped make Nashville one of the major forces in American music culture is unsurpassed. And in her new book, They Came to Nashville, the reader is invited to see Marshall Chapman as never before -- as music journalist extraordinaire. In They Came to Nashville, Chapman records the personal stories of musicians shaping the modern history of music in Nashville, from the mouths of the musicians themselves. The trials, tribulations, and evolution of Music City are on display, as she sits down with influential figures like Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, and Miranda Lambert, and a dozen other top names, to record what brought each of them to Nashville and what inspired them to persevere. The book culminates in a hilarious and heroic attempt to find enough free time with Willie Nelson to get a proper interview. Instead, she's brought along on his raucous 2008 tour and winds up onstage in Beaumont, Texas singing "Good-Hearted Woman" with Willie. They Came to Nashville reveals the daily struggle facing newcomers to the music business, and the promise awaiting those willing to fight for the dream.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press

Title Page

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pp. iii

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-ix

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pp. vii-xii

Anyone who has ever seen her on stage knows that Marshall Chapman is a force of nature. But then anyone who has ever read her on the page can attest to the same force of impact. There are differences, to be sure, but the one element that ties the two experiences together is Marshall herself. She follows the imperative that Ray Charles and Lowman Pauling laid down...

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pp. 1-2

The night I met Billy Joe Shaver, my hair caught on fire. I kid you not. The year was 1971. The place was Nashville, Tennessee. We were all at a party at Jack and Liz Williams’s house. Jack and Liz were a couple of expatriate songwriters from Texas, part of a vibrant underground Nashville music scene. (Jack went on to fame and fortune starring in the original Broadway production of Sweeney Todd. Liz was the first female songwriter I ever met.) The party...

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Kris Kristofferson

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pp. 3-27

The first time I saw Kris Kristofferson was in somebody’s room at the old Ramada Inn on the James Robertson Parkway in downtown Nashville. I had gone there with Jack Clement and Walter Forbes. It may have been DJ Week 1968. I was a nineteen year old sophomore at Vanderbilt University. I remember there were other people milling about the room. And a certain electricity

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Mary Gauthier

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pp. 28-37

I met Mary Gauthier in the summer of 2007 at a party at Beth Nielsen Chapman’s house. Only I wasn’t aware I was meeting Mary Gauthier. I thought I was meeting someone named Mary with no last name. Like Cher or Charo. I was making my way through a buffet line of Mediterranean food when someone said, “Hey Marshall, have you met Mary?” I looked up at the bright-eyed woman...

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Rodney Crowell

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pp. 38-58

In the fall and winter of 1972, Rodney Crowell and I both happened to work at T.G.I. Friday’s on Elliston Place in Nashville. We weren’t there for more than a few months, but I distinctly remember Rodney. He never said much. In fact, I don’t remember him saying a word the entire time he worked there. Whenever I tried talking to him, he’d sort of smile at me with...

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Emmylou Harris

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pp. 59-78

My earliest memories of Emmylou are sketchy at best. Let’s see. At one point—it may have been 1972—Emmy was waiting tables at a Polynesian restaurant out on White Bridge Road at about the same time Rodney Crowell and I were working at T.G.I. Friday’s. I can’t remember if I met Emmylou then or not. But I distinctly remember the first time I heard her singing voice. My friend Danny Flowers...

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Bobby Bare

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pp. 79-93

I first met Bobby Bare at Monument Recording Studio in Nashville in 1971. Harold Bradley, who was playing guitar on the session, had invited me to drop by. I was fresh out of Vanderbilt, and this was my first time in a recording studio with a session in progress. I’d met Harold at the annual BMI Awards dinner, which was held at the Belle Meade Country Club in those days. Some mutual friends had arranged for us to sit together, since...

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Miranda Lambert

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pp. 94-103

“We’re planning to feature her on the cover.” That’s what Garden & Gun editor Sid Evans said after he asked me to interview Miranda Lambert for the magazine’s September/October 2008 issue. For the uninitiated, Garden & Gun is a magazine that spotlights southern culture. Often described as a cross between Oxford American, Southern Living, and Field & Stream, it was launched in early 2007 out of Charleston...

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Bobby Braddock

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pp. 104-111

I first saw Bobby Braddock at a “guitar pull” at Harlan Howard’s house on Otter Creek Road in Nashville. A “guitar pull” is what you call a Nashville party with lots of songwriters, but only one guitar. The liquor starts flowing, spirits rise, normally shy songwriters become emboldened, a guitar materializes, and next thing you know, everybody’s pulling at it. Well, not really...

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Terri Clark

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pp. 112-121

Until recently I didn’t personally know Terri Clark. But I knew her house. In 2006, Terri bought a house a few doors down from mine. I figured I’d run into her eventually. But I never laid eyes on her. All I knew was that her house was adorable—a renovated bungalow with beautiful stonework and a Swiss...

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Eddie Angel

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pp. 122-136

“I’d like to break both his damned arms!” That’s what Scotty Moore said after hearing Eddie Angel play guitar for the first time. I’d given Scotty an advance cassette of my album Dirty Linen (Tall Girl/Line, 1987), which featured Eddie on lead guitar, along with a cassette of some of Eddie’s own recordings. “There’ve been a lot of Scotty Moore...

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Don Henry

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pp. 137-154

Don Henry is one of the most original and remarkable songwriters I’ve ever known. We first met while playing an in the round at the Bluebird Café. According to a journal I was keeping at the time, the date was Saturday, May 21, 1988. Gary Nicholson had been telling me about Don for months. “Man, you’ve got to hear Don Henry,” he...

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John Hiatt

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pp. 155-175

“Why don’t you just come out and say it, Marshall. I was fat.” Hiatt says that every time I try to describe what it was like seeing him for the first time, when he was performing at the Exit/In in 1972. I don’t know why he tries to put those words in my mouth. The truth is, he was not fat. Being nineteen years old, however, he had the full face of a young adolescent, which made...

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Ashley Cleveland

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pp. 176-187

I first started hearing about Ashley Cleveland in the mid-’80s. Whenever a major talent moves to town, it doesn’t take long for word to get around. So a year or so before we met, I already knew about this woman with the powerful and soulful voice who also wrote songs. Before our interview, I emailed Ashley to see if she remembered when we actually met (and to ask when she moved to Nashville). Here’s what she had to say: “I don’t remember...

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Gary Nicholson

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pp. 188-197

Gary can probably tell you, better than I, of our first encounter. But I’ve heard this story so many times—told by Gary and others who were there—that I feel confident piecing it together. The year was 1981. I’d gone to hear Guy Clark at Cantrell’s, which was Nashville’s only underground club at the time. Guy was backed by a threepiece band that included Gary...

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Beth Nielsen Chapman

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pp. 198-223

I first met Beth Nielsen Chapman at the Ryman Auditorium in 1994, at a Shawn Colvin concert. Gary and Barbara Ann Nicholson had a couple of extra tickets. They gave one to Beth, then asked me to join them. “You need to meet Beth,” Gary said. I had heard of Beth. Waylon Jennings was a big fan of her songwriting, and Willie Nelson had a #1 hit with...

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Willie Nelson

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pp. 223-268

I first met Willie Nelson in Nashville in the fall of 1973. I’d gone to a party at Rick Sanjek’s house up on Overlook Drive, a few blocks south of the Vanderbilt campus. Rick was general manager of Atlantic Records’ Nashville office, which had been open for about a year. Willie was the first artist signed to the label. Rick’s house was a brick-and-stone...

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pp. 269-270

I’d like to thank all my songwriter friends, including the ones featured in this book, for all the inspiration; Jay Orr, for believing; John Gouge, LeAnn Bennett, Liz Thiels, Tina Wright, Michael Gray, and Kyle Young at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum; Eli Bortz, Sue Havlish, Dariel Mayer, Betsy Phillips, Ed Huddleston, Jenna Phillips, and Jessie Hunnicutt at Vanderbilt...


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pp. 271-272


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pp. 273-282

E-ISBN-13: 9780826517371
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826517357
Print-ISBN-10: 0826517358

Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Country musicians -- Tennessee -- Nashville -- Interviews.
  • Country music -- Tennessee -- Nashville -- History and criticism.
  • Rock musicians -- Tennessee -- Nashville -- Interviews.
  • Rock music -- Tennessee -- Nashville -- History and criticism.
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