This June, a new, first-of-its-kind book Behind the Boards: Nashville (Baker & Taylor) pulls back the curtain on the Music Row hit-making machine that is the recording studio. The new book explores the in-depth relationships between artists and producers while revealing the compelling stories behind some of the biggest hits to come out of Music City. Behind the Boards: Nashville is the 50th book by award-winning, Nashville-based music biographer Jake Brown (Nashville Songwriter series) and will hit store shelves June 23rd. An audiobook version of the title will be available through Blackstone Audio on June 20th.
Behind the Boards: Nashville invites readers inside for front-row, first-hand conversations with 30 of Country music’s most successful and legendary record producers of the past 50 years, including Tony Brown, Dann Huff, Buddy Cannon, Dave Cobb, James Stroud, Nathan Chapman, Jeff & Jody Stevens, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne, Clint Black, Paul Worley, Jim Ed Norman, Joey Moi, Byron Gallimore, Michael Knox, Frank Rogers, Don Cook, Chris DeStefano, Frank Liddell, Jesse Frasure, Josh Leo, Zach Crowell, Bobby Braddock, Ray Baker, Norbert Putnam, Ross Copperman, Justin Neibank, Ray ‘Orig the DJ’ Riddle and Luke Laird among others.
For this feature, we are taking a look at “Restless;” a song recorded by Vince Gill, Steve Wariner and Ricky Skaggs, and produced by Tony Brown.
Of the single, Brown says, “When we were cutting that song, it was so new we hadn’t really had a chance to discuss it. I just knew it was a great song, and he had just written the first verse and chorus but said ‘We can’t record it because I haven’t written the second verse yet,’ and I said ‘Well cut it, and you can finish the second verse later, sing the first verse twice.’
I think it sure helps for a producer to know music and know what you like and what you understand, and then sometimes they’ll throw stuff at you reference-wise where you’re not sure who that is, and they’ll play you a lick off an old R&B record, so you talk back and forth, but it helps to be musical. When I’m cutting a song, I always use two keyboard players, I put one on the B3 or synth and one on the acoustic piano, and I was using John Jarvis on that session on the synth and it was kind of mid-tempo, it didn’t sound right, and Vince said “You know, I want it to feel like ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ by Bonnie Raitt, that’s what I want it to feel like.”
So I jumped in my car, raced over to Tower Records on West End back when it was still around and bought the single, brought it back to the studio, we played it, and then we switched keyboards. I put John on the electric piano and Vince’s player on the B3, and everybody just sort of switched spots and the next take was that version you hear on the record, and I thought “Wow! They can do that in the flick of an eye…” Before, it was a mid-tempo kind of country song, but when they came back, you hear John Jarvis on that DX-7 and it just kind of washes over you, and I knew it was going to be a big hit! Hell, it won Single of the Year!”
Collectively, the book features over 300 #1 hits by Country’s biggest stars, including Taylor Swift, Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Chris Stapleton, Carrie Underwood, George Strait, Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Clint Black, Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville”, Florida Georgia Line, Reba McEntire, Lionel Richie’s Tuskegee album, A Star is Born Soundtrack starring Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper, Brad Paisley, Sam Hunt, Blake Shelton, Trisha Yearwood, Kacey Musgraves, Brooks & Dunn, Keith Urban, Alabama, Jason Isbell, George Jones, Jewel, Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Willie Nelson, Lori McKenna, Midland, Faith Hill, Steve Earle, Hank Williams Jr., Lyle Lovett, Thomas Rhett, Dierks Bentley, Vince Gill, Brett Eldredge, Martina McBride, The Dixie Chicks, The Band Perry, Shooter Jennings, Jake Owen, Big & Rich, Jon Pardi, the Nitty Gritty Band, Scotty McCreery, Darius Rucker, Moe Bandy, The Eagles, and the great Merle Haggard among others.
Said Brown: “I’m proud this is my 50th published book, as we endeavored to gather the largest collection ever of Country Music’s superstar producers in one conversation for fans over 600 pages chronicling both how they first found their way to Nashville and into the recording studio, how Country music’s biggest stars work in the studio behind the scenes, and pull back the curtain on specifically how literally hundreds of their Greatest Hits were brought to life in the studio. It’s a love-letter to my home town that I couldn’t be more proud of!”