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The View From Nashville
The View From Nashville
On The Record With Country's Greatest Stars

Ralph Emery
Reviewed by Jace Carlton
Originally published in
The Songwriter's Connection  -  February  2003

So, who are the "Soap Sisters",
and who's the "Next Big Deal" (and I'm not referring to Vince Gill's CD)?  What's the REAL story behind the INCREDIBLE red dress Reba wore at the 1993 CMA Awards show?  Who's the Queen of Blue-Eyed Soul, and was she really a "Hairdresser to a Star"?  What's the "Nashville Sound" and who created it?  These questions and LOTS more are answered in the great book I'm reviewing this month.

For several months I've been writing about the ins and outs of the music business, the how-to's of writing, getting copyrights and deals, business managers, agents and road managers, and basically taking you through the business, legal and more technical side of the music world.  This month, however, I've had the pleasure of taking a wonderful journey through the world of Nashville along side Ralph Emery, the undisputed King of Nashville Radio and TV in his terrific story-filled book, "The View from Nashville".

The RIGHT man in the RIGHT place at the RIGHT time!

Chapter after chapter, excerpt after excerpt, Ralph shares wonderful stories told to him over his 40+ years in the entertainment industry.  From his early years as the all night DJ at the mighty WSM, through being the original host of Nashville Now from 1983 – 1993 on cable TV's The Nashville Network, to On the Record, an in-depth interview program he developed, produced and hosted, Ralph has touched millions of lives through his intimate friendships with artists, songwriters, musicians, producers, engineers, agents, Music Row execs, etc., that have been the heartbeat of Country Music.

They say that if you want to be the best at something, you have to know the history behind it.  You're able to appreciate your struggles more, endure the obstacles, and can keep your "eyes on the prize" easier if you know what others before you have gone through.  Whether it's music, politics, science, athletics or whatever, knowledge of the past will help you today and in the future.

For example, (and I know I'm getting away from Mr. Emery and his book, but please bear with me for a moment, OK?), General George S. Patton wasn't lucky as a tank commander during World War II, he studied the great conquerors of history and paid close attention to their victorious strategies for war, and just as important, he also studied his own opponents, especially the distinguished German tank commander General Erwin Rommel, a.k.a. The Desert Fox. Patton knew Rommel and his strategies so well, he could defeat Rommel over and over again in his sleep before going out to face him in battle the following day.

So what has Patton's methods of studying the past and his competition have to do with the music industry?  Just that if someone thinks they can waltz into any major music center (whether it be Nashville, Los Angeles, or New York) and NOT have at least SOME understanding of its rich history, they're shortchanging themselves.  The more you know of what's gone on in the past, the more you're able to recognize and appreciate the opportunities you have right in front of your eyes, and the more you can contribute to creating an even better future.

Ralph Emery's "The View from Nashville" is a must read because he shares so much of what makes a great music center like Nashville click.  No one can make it in this business by themselves ... we all need friends, mentors, people who believe in us and can give us a chance to show what we have.  Story after story, Ralph shares how one star after another wouldn't have made it if it hadn't been for someone else; being in the right place at the right time, getting to know the right people. Ralph's been the right man to be in the right place at the right time, to be a part of these people's lives, and then to be able to share their stories with us, to give us hope, to give us inspiration, to get us to keep believing in ourselves, our talents and abilities, and our dreams.

Who knows ... someone reading this review and then reading "The View from Nashville" may themselves one day become "the next big deal".

By the way, to answer some of the questions I asked at the beginning:

The "Soap Sisters" are Naomi and Wynonna Judd.

The Queen of Blue-Eyed Soul is Barbara Mandrell, and at the age of 13 was the hairdresser to Patsy Cline while performing on the road together.

Ralph considers Faron Young and Brooks & Dunn the "Next Big Deal" ... just 40 years apart.

The why's and wherefore's are in the book, so get it and enjoy!

Oh, yeah ... one more thing ... What IS the REAL story behind the INCREDIBLE red dress Reba wore at the 1993 CMA Awards show?  You'll just have to read the book to find out!

Copyright © 2003 by Jace Carlton

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Jace Carlton is a Nashville based songwriter, music publisher, artist manager, and freelance writer.  As a songwriter and collaborator much in demand in the Country market, he also enjoys writing for A/C, Pop, R&B, Smooth Jazz, Contemporary Christian, and Cabaret.  As a Freelance Writer he has contributed reviews on new CD's to online newsletters and artist websites, and occasionally  ontributes book and concert reviews along with personal commentary on the music industry to Nashville's Songwriter's Connection e-Zine.

He was recently honored by being selected to be a part of Nashville's Shine On Foundation, assisting talented songwriters, artists and musicians.

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