Is Nashville Really Like Nashville?

Charles Esten and Sam Palladio Say Yes

I get that they are actors. But when I talked with Nashville’s Deacon and Gunnar — excuse me, Charles “Just call me Chip” Esten and Sam Palladio — it was no act. They both told me the real Nashville is very much like the show Nashville. Especially when it comes to songwriting.

“What I love most is that our show shows all the many ways that songs get written,” Esten said at the BMI Awards during CMA Awards week in Nashville. “Whether it’s that you just came home from something that broke your heart and it just pours out or whether someone hands you a poem, like Scarlett has done, now I get why our show’s about the songs and the songwriters.”

Since the BMI Awards celebrate the songwriters instead of just the artists who sing the hit songs, Esten was in awe of the talent around him. Because of the show, he says he now understands the way a songwriter’s mind works.

“They’re all so emotionally intelligent. So one of the things I love about songwriting sessions is when it’s not just a good song, but it’s a good hang,” he said. “And tonight is the ultimate hang.”

Palladio agreed. And added that one of the things Nashville does so well is show the range of songwriting sessions.

“Sometimes it’s just Scarlett and Gunnar at home. Sometimes it’s the very organized pub house co-write. I find myself doing both of those in the show and now in real life,” Palladio explained. “They’re both very established ways of doing things. We were portraying the way it works.”

Unless it’s one of those sessions where nothing is going anywhere even after hours and hours of staring at a blank sheet of paper. That does not make for good TV.

“We’ve shown sometimes where the song just wasn’t coming,” Esten admitted, “but you can’t show the long four-hour write where the song’s not even there yet.”

And I also had to know, how realistic is it that a homeless guy outside a publishing house would help a writer finish a song?

“The point is, sometimes you look at a homeless person and think, ’That’s a guy that doesn’t have anything going on,'” Esten said. “But, in fact, maybe he’s had a tremendous past and has a lot of things to say.”