Nashville sound originated during the mid 1950s as a subgenre of
American country music, replacing the chart dominance of the rough
honky tonk music which was most popular in the 1940s and 1950s with
"smooth strings and choruses", "sophisticated background vocals" and
"smooth tempos". It was an attempt "to revive country sales,
which had been devastated by the rise of rock 'n' roll."
3 Country pop
4 Examples of the Nashville sound
5 Examples of Countrypolitan
6 See also
Nashville sound was pioneered by staff at RCA Victor, Columbia
Decca Records in Nashville, Tennessee.
RCA Victor manager
and producer Chet Atkins, and producers Steve Sholes, Owen Bradley,
and Bob Ferguson, and recording engineer Bill Porter invented the form
by replacing elements of the popular honky tonk style (fiddles, steel
guitar, nasal lead vocals) with "smooth" elements from 1950s pop music
(string sections, background vocals, crooning lead vocals), and using
"slick" production, and pop music structures. The producers
relied on a small group of studio musicians known as the Nashville
A-Team, whose quick adaptability and creative input made them vital to
the hit-making process. The
Anita Kerr Quartet was the main vocal
backing group in the early 1960s. In 1960, Time magazine reported that
Nashville had "nosed out
Hollywood as the nation's second biggest
(after New York) record-producing center."
The term "Nashville Sound" was first mentioned in an article about Jim
Reeves in 1958 in the Music Reporter and again in 1960 in a Time
magazine article about Reeves. Other observers have identified
several recordings that helped establish the early Nashville sound.
Country historian Rich Kienzle says that "Gone", a
Ferlin Husky hit
recorded in November 1956, "may well have pointed the way to the
Nashville sound." Writer Colin Escott proclaims Jim Reeves' "Four
Walls", recorded February 1957, to be the "first 'Nashville sound'
record", and Chet Atkins, the
RCA Victor producer and guitarist most
often credited with being the sound's primary artistic creator,
pointed to his production of Don Gibson's "Oh Lonesome Me" late that
In an essay published in Heartaches by the Number: Country Music's 500
Greatest Singles, David Cantwell argues that Elvis Presley's rock and
roll recording of "Don't Be Cruel" in July 1956 was the record that
sparked the beginning of the era now called the Nashville sound.
Cantwell, however, doesn't factor in earlier Nashville recordings
using vocal choruses, or the fact that Presley's recordings were not
marketed as country.
Regarding the Nashville sound, the record producer Owen Bradley
stated, "Now we've cut out the fiddle and steel guitar and added
choruses to country music. But it can't stop there. It always has to
keep developing to keep fresh."
In the early 1960s, the
Nashville sound began to be challenged by the
Bakersfield sound on the country side and by the British
Invasion on the pop side; compounding these problems were the sudden
deaths, in separate airplane crashes, of
Patsy Cline and Jim Reeves,
two of the Nashville Sound's biggest stars. Nashville's pop song
structure became more pronounced and it morphed into what was called
Countrypolitan—a smoother sound typified through the use of lush
string arrangements with a real orchestra and often, background vocals
provided by a choir.
Countrypolitan was aimed straight at mainstream
markets and it sold well throughout the later 1960s into the early
1970s. Among the architects of this sound were producers Billy
Sherrill (who was instrumental in shaping Tammy Wynette's early
career) and Glenn Sutton. Artists who typified the countrypolitan
sound initially included Wynette,
Glen Campbell (who recorded in
Hollywood and not Nashville), Lynn Anderson, Charlie Rich, and Charley
Pride, the latter being a rare example of a top-selling
African-American country performer.
The Bakersfield sound, and later outlaw country, dominated country
music among aficionados while countrypolitan reigned on the pop
Upon being asked what the
Nashville sound was,
Chet Atkins would put
his hand into his pocket, shake his loose change, and say "That's what
it is. It's the sound of money".
Main article: Country pop
By the late 1970s and 1980s, many pop music singers picked up the
countrypolitan style and created what is known as country pop, the
fusion of country music and soft rock.
Examples of the Nashville sound
Classic examples of
Nashville sound recordings:
"Four Walls" by
Jim Reeves (1957)
Ferlin Husky (1957)
"A Fallen Star" by
Jimmy C. Newman
Jimmy C. Newman (1957)
"The Three Bells" by
The Browns (1959)
"He'll Have to Go" by
Jim Reeves (1960)
"Last Date" by
Floyd Cramer (1960)
"I'm Sorry" by
Brenda Lee (1960)
"I Fall to Pieces" by
Patsy Cline (1961)
"Hello Fool" by
Ralph Emery (1961)
"A Little Bitty Tear", "Call Me Mister In-Between", and "It's Just My
Funny Way of Laughin'" by
Burl Ives (1962) (Ives was not a country
singer, but a folk singer.)
"The End of the World" by
Skeeter Davis (1963) This record was a
mainstream pop chart hit.
"Here Comes My Baby" by
Dottie West (1964)
"Make the World Go Away" by
Eddy Arnold (1965)
"Misty Blue" by
Wilma Burgess (1966)
"Danny Boy" by Ray Price (1967)
Examples of Countrypolitan
"(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden" by
Lynn Anderson (1971)
Help Me Make It Through the Night" by
Sammi Smith (1971)
"Kiss an Angel Good Morning" by Charley Pride
"Eleven Roses" by
Hank Williams, Jr.
Hank Williams, Jr. (1972)
"Behind Closed Doors" by
Charlie Rich (1973)
"Good News" by Jody Miller (1973)
"The Most Beautiful Girl" by
Charlie Rich (1973)
"Paper Roses" by
Marie Osmond (1973)
"Rhinestone Cowboy" by
Glen Campbell (1975)
"He Stopped Loving Her Today" by
George Jones (1980)
"Slow Hand" by
Conway Twitty (1982)
The music of Ronnie Milsap
"Lady", "You Decorated My Life" and similar songs by Kenny Rogers
"When I Think About Cheatin'" by
Gretchen Wilson (2004)
The Nashville A-Team
Nashville Sounds, a baseball team that borrows its name from the style
^ Byworth, Tony, ed. (2006). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country
Music. London: Flame Tree Publishing. pp. 7, 115–117, 169.
^ a b Dawidoff, Nicholas (1997). In the Country of Country. Great
Britain: Faber and Faber. pp. 48–50.
^ a b The Tennessee Encyclopedia. Nashville Recording Industry.
Accessed April 9, 2016.
^ a b c Sanjek, Russell. (1988). "American Popular Music and Its
Business: the first four hundred years". Oxford University Press.
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-05-16. Retrieved
^ Bill Ivey, Encyclopedia of Country Music
^ a b "The "Nashville Sound" Begins". Retrieved August 8, 2011.
^ Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st
ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 14.
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-13. Retrieved
Country music genres