When it comes to country music my tastes run to the times when Connie Smith, Roy Acuff, or Bill Anderson were laying down tracks in the recording studio. What passes for most country music today–minus the Vince Gill types–sound either far too red-neck for my tastes or have a sound that is far different from that which makes classic country such a joy to put on the sound system.
Today there was a front page story in The New York Times about the development craze that is slated to make the Nashville area–the 10-county metropolitan region of 1.7 million people–to grow to three million by 2040. But to achieve that there are going to be some drastic changes.
One of the saddest changes is perhaps the destruction of RCA Studio A — one of those places where so much of country music–the sounds of Americana–was created. To me–and thankfully many others–this is absolutely wrong. But will there be enough sane ones with a sense of the past and the importance of the music that was created in this studio to make a difference?
As it stands now, unless there is some miracle at the last minute the 5,000-square-foot Studio A will be razed. In its place Bravo Development desires to replace it with a five-story condo complex. Within those walls the likes of Loretta Lynn, George Strait, B. B. King, the Beach Boys, and the Monkees all recorded hits we still know as soon as they are played or music we still sing to in the shower. The studio, which opened in 1965, was operated by the RCA record label through 1979.
Pure soulless greed is the only way to sum up this action by Bravo Development. There must be more of an appreciation for the past magic that was recorded in Studio A and why that connection to our past is important. Readers should know–if they are not already aware–that other sites on Music Row have been torn down to make room for new buildings that are not expected to meet the test of time.
Fireside, a studio once owned by Porter Wagoner, Dolly Parton’s duet partner, was torn down recently to make room for the Artisan, a 153-unit apartment complex with a yoga studio. Really?!!
Fireside, a studio once owned by Porter Wagoner
RCA Studio B where Elvis and others performed is under the protection of the Country Music Association which has a lease in perpetuity. So there is a sense, when it can be employed, to make the past secure.
That type of care for our musical history needs to rise to the top. Lets try to keep Studio A out of the hands of the greedy developers.
Ben Folds is leading the charge, and I urge others who wish to make a difference to connect with him–and soon.
Folds and other supporters for saving Studio A and Music Row are moving forward with their efforts. In a Facebook post on July 2, Folds emphasized his goals: “My aim is to make sure Studio A is standing and making music of future generations long after we are all gone. By drawing attention to this I also have the opportunity to cast a spotlight on those on Music Row who have been individually struggling with their versions of the same story as they watch bulldozers level acres of our rich music history every day.”