Living in Nashville is apparently a very big deal these days as something like 100+ people are moving here daily. And there is…or was, a late night network drama about this city, which had an opportunity to engage this country in a wide range of influence. The opportunity wasn’t taken, and ABC’s “Nashville” got a pink slip and was cancelled rather abruptly on May 12.
At the outset, the idea of this hour-long situational drama held mass appeal. It held immense promise as a platform about this city’s inner workings as a vehicle to showcase some really great music. Legendary producer, T Bone Burnett was the music director for the first year as his wife, Callie Khouri is the show’s creator and executive producer. In the beginning T Bone said something to the effect, “this is an opportunity for the music to be an actual character in the show, not the emotional backdrop.” I’m paraphrasing what I thought was a brilliant premise.
There’s a lot to be said conceptually for an appeal to sophistication for a nationwide audience. If you’ve got a vehicle to reach millions of people weekly with an enormous ecosystem of media that supports a traditional genre of music and contemporary culture there’s impetus to grab hold of a huge brass ring and hold on tight.
Somebody missed that opportunity and ABC abruptly cancelled the show after four seasons.
Last night ABC’s Music Lounge posted several singles on social media from one of the last original episodes. Curious, I clicked on a few and gave feedback on one. It was a really lackluster tune that has no place on television, radio, or iTunes for that matter.
With less than 140 characters there wasn’t much room for a comment, so I said it was a bad tune. And maybe bad music was a reason for the show’s cancellation. ABC’s cold reply was equal to my comment, I guess, and fair enough.
But here’s the deal: If we continue to go around praising bad music and bad contributions to our culture just because they exist, what good is a critique in the first place? If it’s put out for a judgment call, live with kudos as well as criticism. There is an ocean of music out there, and most of it is a shipwreck. But people continue to worship poor craftsmanship when we are capable of offering so much better.
After more than three decades working in music, I know good work when I hear it, and I know it almost instantly. We live in a very sophisticated world and more people would buy music and engage in the entire process if we raise the bar instead of cater to the lowest common denominator which has created so many problems in this business.
Music is sophisticated on every level. Let’s keep it up there on par with great architecture, literature, philosophy, and entrepreneurial ventures. The gutters are crowded with meaningless manipulation of thought.
Music belongs in the clouds where there’s plenty of room at the top.