If you missed the debut of ABC’s country-music drama Nashville on Oct. 10, you might’ve wondered, ”What was that amazing song?” At the end of the pilot, Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio harmonized beautifully to ”If I Didn’t Know Better,” a country-noir ballad written by Arum Rae and The Civil Wars‘ John Paul White. After the episode aired, the song climbed to No. 5 on iTunes’ country chart, earning praise from real Nashville stars. ”Kristian [Bush] from Sugarland loved it,” says Dawn Soler, senior vice president of music for ABC Entertainment Group. ”Lady Antebellum tweeted about it!”
Such news shouldn’t come as a surprise. T Bone Burnett, who oversaw the soundtrack for, among others, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, works as Nashville‘s executive music producer, and he’s already persuaded Elvis Costello, Lucinda Williams, and Gillian Welch to contribute original songs. The record label Big Machine, home to Taylor Swift, announced that it will release a few songs from every episode to iTunes, following the incredibly successful model of Glee and, more recently, Smash. Hayden Panettiere‘s ”Telescope,” co-written by Carrie Underwood scribe Hillary Lindsey for the Oct. 17 episode, was the first one sent to country radio.
A soundtrack is currently in development, and Soler says ABC hopes to eventually put Nashville‘s stars on tour, possibly with an A-list opener. In the meantime, Big Machine has sent 20 original songs to Burnett. ”T Bone called right back and said, ‘Great, I’ll take them,”’ says Big Machine Label Group CEO Scott Borchetta. ”We said, ‘Great, which ones?’ And T Bone goes, ‘All 20.”’ Unemployed songwriters, time to move to Nashville.
—Additional reporting by Kyle Anderson
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