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Nashville, TN


Writings for the Nashville Scene

Jen Hartry

While I’ve been writing the new record for the past two years (about which I am trying to find a way to write), I’ve also written some things for The Nashville Scene. It has been gratifying to have such an outlet. Here are those few things for anyone interested in words without music.

The latest was an autobiographical story about how a terrible worship song drove me from the church, and eventually from Christianity. The piece was commented on quite a bit, and not all the time very intelligently I’d say. I read only a few comments and stopped. I’ve thought about writing a follow up to it, but I’m not sure I’d like to validate thoughtless internet commenters that way. To be fair, I received a bunch of thoughtful and wonderful responses, too. 

Before that I published what I was hoping was sort of an exposé of what Music Row calls a pitch list, which is a document that details what sort of songs Nashville country singers are looking to record. It was either not widely read or came across as totally unsurprising.

Similar to that, I analyzed long ago the Billboard Top 20 Country Songs for similarity, to test the claim that all country songs were lyrically the same. At least back in 2013, they were. I was happy that this little article got a lot of reads, and soon after we saw people putting together mashups and laughing at those. I was talking to a songwriter pal of mine who writes on Music Row. He said he was at a songwriting retreat with his publishing company and another. The type of thing where you retreat but are supposed to write a ton of songs while you’re there. He told me that everyone there was reading the article, and that the president of his publishing company said that he didn’t know whether to tell the writers to write songs like those mentioned in the article, or to avoid doing it. That is sad success.

Lastly, my only article written on assignment, this piece surprised me. I was asked to write about Jason Aldean. I think the editor was hoping that I’d write a good send up. And boy was I ready, because boy do I think Jason Aldean’s songs are crap. But the more I listened and thought about the dude, and about bro-country in general, the more I realized that he was doing something kind of, ehem, innovative. It hurts to type it.

After the piece about the worship song got so much response, the music editor of the Scene asked to meet with me and I did. His name his Adam Gold, and not only is he a great fellow, but he’s a great writer. He told me he liked my writing and that I could write basically whatever I wanted for the Scene’s music section. I was excited by the prospect. But during the next few days I thought and thought about what to write and came up with nothing that appealed to myself. As you know, I don’t listen to a ton of music, so I don’t think I’m the man for concert or record reviews. Nor do I read a lot of music journalism. Which might be a good thing, but may not. The short of it is that I couldn’t come up with anything the write that wouldn’t just be something like another piece of content on the web. So, I haven’t taken him up on the offer just yet.

That whole thing has always been a blessing and a curse for my writing. The notion for what to write has to come gleaming from the deep, or at least, when I’m done with it, needs to gleam like something from the deep. Otherwise I cast if off. Writing, when I get into it, feels pretty good no matter the quality of the words. The rhythm, and the expression of anything, of something. I’m hoping to find new ways of going about it.