PART 2: BUDDY MILLER ON THE MUSIC OF “NASHVILLE,” SEASON 2
PART 2: START WITH THE SONG
Guitarist/producer/singer Buddy Miller took the reins this year as Executive Music Producer for the hit TV series “Nashville.” In this second installment of his exclusive interview with CMA Close Up, the Americana legend offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how he oversaw the scoring for Season 2, which premiered Sept. 25 on ABC.
Getting a song onto the “Nashville” soundtrack has been a major ambition up and down Music Row these past few years. Can you think of any particular writers who have benefited from making it onto the soundtrack?
Two writers come to mind right off the top of my head, and those are Kate York and Sarah Buxton. They’re two friends of mine. When we met with the Music Supervisor and Lion’s Gate through the breakfast before the pilot shoot began, I brought one CD for the Music Supervisor to hear of a writer that I thought would really suit the show and that was Sarah Buxton. I think we probably ended up using a half a dozen of her songs.
What criteria do you use in evaluating songs for the show?
If it moves me and if it fits great with the character in the script. It’s certainly not just me. There are several of us that listen together and talk about it. There’s a crew that picks out songs. That for me, last season, was one of the really fun parts of working on the show: to find great songs. It’s not difficult in this town.
Is there a process for someone who wants to get a song he or she wrote on the show?
I’m sure everybody on the show gets songs sent to them via email every day. I probably get 25 a day emailed to me just from friends, from people who have gotten my email address. Most of them come from publishing companies in town, so that is probably the best way, through a publisher to the Music Supervisor.
Has there been a time when a song did not work out on the show as expected and you had to find a quick replacement?
No, because there are a whole lot of steps that a song has to walk through before it actually makes it on to the show. By the time it makes it on to the show, a lot of people have heard it and they all have got to think it’s really good. So I don’t think so. There’s always after-the-fact second-guessing, but I will say there were some songs last season that were just stellar songs, some really great songs by anyone’s standards, not just the show’s. I think the evidence is in the people really responding on an emotional level to the songs.
Could you name a couple of those?
This song, “Stronger Than Me,” last season, I believe Rayna James (Connie Britton) sang that. There’s the last song of the season, “Nothing in This World (Will Break My Heart Again).” (Kate York and Sarah Buxton co-wrote both songs).
Was that the one Hayden Panettiere sang?
Correct. Hey, she’s a great singer! She’s good! And so is Clare, who is Scarlett, and so is Sam. That guy Jonathan (Jackson), who plays Avery (Barkley), he’s great! To me, there’s a Roy Orbison-esque quality to his voice that I really want to make something out of. There have been several songs by Kate and Sarah, who are friends of mine. That is part of the joy of collecting songs last season is the folks in town that I know who are without a doubt just incredible writers. We’re able to bring some of those to a place where people can hear them a little more. Striking Matches (Sarah Zimmermann and Justin Davis) is another example of a couple of great writers who have a thing here in town. We used their song lyrics. It’s a beautiful song too, “When the Right One Comes Along.” It’s a couple. They’re both great guitar players, great singers. Since the song’s aired, I think they’ve played the Opry 18 times or 19 times.
Writers like these have contributed a lot to the authenticity of this show.
I hope so. To me, that’s one of the beautiful things about it. We’re not having record companies dictate to us what to do. And we don’t have to get something on the charts; we can start with a good song. Hopefully, we’ll keep it up.