Nashville Gets to the Heart of Real Songwriting Issues

The main plot of Wednesday’s (Jan. 29) episode of Nashville was Juliette’s Grand Ole Opry induction and the career-ending aftermath.

But if you look a little deeper, the episode was really about the artistic merit of country songs. So basically, it was the best show ever.

First, Liam coaxed meaningful music out of Scarlett. It didn’t happen right away. First, she tells him that “Crazy Tonight” got the biggest response on the tour, but her song “Looking for a Place to Shine” was pretty special.

But when she starts to sing “Crazy Town” — which is actually a great song Kacey Musgraves co-wrote with Jay Clementi — Liam goes crazy. But not in a good way.

“Are you serious? You want me to produce this? Whiskey slamming, dirty dancing? What the hell is this song about? I highly doubt that you’re the whiskey slamming, dirty dancing type of girl,” Liam yells at Scarlett.

When she tells him it’s just a song that makes you happy, he asks her the big question. “How am I supposed to produce an album that introduces you to the world if I have no idea who you are?” Then, he steals her journal.

“I think inside every nice person I’ve ever met, there’s always this angry, damaged soul who’s fighting tooth and nail to keep that side hidden. I think you’re way more interesting than you let on. I just want the truth,” he says. “Do you wanna be a singer? Or do you wanna be an artist?”

She ends up admitting to Liam that her mother was crazy, and together they work on a song about that called “Black Roses.”

(The only bad thing about their partnership is that Liam gives Scarlett some uppers, and you just know she’s going to a drug addict by next week’s episode.)

Meanwhile, Gunnar tried, unsuccessfully, to coax a good song out of Layla.

“Do you have something on your mind you want to write about? Usually one person gets the ball rolling. Let’s start with what you wanna say,” Gunnar tells her after she bullied him into a writing session. “So, what’s on your mind?”

“Most of my fans are young, so you know maybe something upbeat. I want to write something fun,” Layla responded with all the heart and soul of a pair of Abercrombie jeans.

And this is Gunnar’s sage advice: “But, you see, it still has to come from some place. Take Taylor Swift. She has a bunch of fun songs, but they’re usually about personal experiences.”

“But not everyone’s love life is as dramatic as hers,” Layla says. “I have one boyfriend, and he’s awesome.”

“’I have one boyfriend, and he’s awesome.’ That’s not a great song,” Gunnar tells her.

And doesn’t that just say it all? Because that sums up every “girl, you’re awesome” song on country radio right now. If Gunnar was part of the Music Row reality, instead of just a songwriter character on a TV show, I’d recommend that his words of wisdom be chiseled into stone tablets and placed somewhere that every writer would see them.

In other non-songwriting news, Juliette politely declined Deacon’s invitation to be on his duets album. Juliette and Jeff reignited their feud, big time. Teddy started using his ex-wife’s ex-lover’s girlfriend as his lawyer. Tandy was arrested, FBI-style. Brad Paisley — playing himself — gave Juliette a terrible-but-honest pep talk. And Luke put Rayna’s picture on a NASCAR car.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.