The hospitality and friendship in a small town is legendary in all walks of life, but no one expects to find small town hospitality in a big city. But that legendary kind of camaraderie could once be found on two one-way streets in the middle of our great city, now called Music Row – and can at times still be experienced there.

PHOTO CREDIT: MERLE HAGGARD’S FACEBOOK
In the earliest years of Music Row many artists were friends and shared a great community spirit and camaraderie. Pictured here are a group of country-western superstars – L-R, Jack Greene (“Statue of a Fool”), Buck Owens (“Tiger by the Tail”), Faron Young (“Hello Walls”), Merle Haggard (“Mama Tried”) and Charley Pride (“Kiss an Angel Good Morning”)

In its earliest days, Music Row was a community much like a small town, where everyone knew everyone and everyone seemed familiar with what was going on all along Music Row. The spirit of friendship was a way of life, back when you could just walk into a publishing house or a record label and play a song or two for a label head or publisher. Part of what made Nashville and Music Row so legendary was the special relationships that were forged on these streets and the family-style camaraderie that lived there.

Some of country music’s biggest stars can tell story after story about the great times and ties they made on Music Row. David and Howard Bellamy of The Bellamy Brothers are quick to relate, “One of our fondest memories of Music Row is that we would be in a session at Emerald Studios or the Sound Shop and [artists would just come in], like Charley Pride knocked on the door and said, ‘I don’t want to interrupt your session, but I forgot my sunglasses.’ It was that kind of environment. Whether people were coming in or [we were] just running into people or ducking out of Emerald Studios and going to Bobby’s Idle Hour and getting a beer with the session guys, there’s so many great memories we have on Music Row.”

PHOTO CREDIT: OSABEE / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

Legendary singer known for her Christmas classic “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” Brenda Lee expressed her thoughts about the friendship and community on the early years of Music Row. “Just going in the door, knowing that my extended family was there. Knowing that we were going to do something magic and that I was going to be a part of it. And they were my family, they were like my big brothers and my big sisters. Charlie Bradley back in the back of the engineering room, he was Owen’s brother and Harold Bradley, you know, played on all my sessions, and it was just a family affair to me. I don’t think it was that way with every artist, but it was with me.”

Camaraderie still exists on Music Row, but some might say it’s not as widespread as it used to be. Most of the music businesses on and off of Music Row have locked their doors with a keypad entry. Though it’s probably best for the people working inside the buildings, it’s a little saddening that things have changed so drastically on these quaint streets.

There is still an unspoken respect between songwriters, producers and musicians all over Nashville – and that spirit of creativity saturates Nashvillians and newcomers as well. Music Row may never have the same kind of camaraderie or free-entry, deals-over-a-beer environment it had back in its glory days, but it is still worth experiencing, worth preserving – as it holds a history that Nashvillians evolved from.