Alan Jackson Presents George Strait with the Gene Weed Special Achievement Award at the 38th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards
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12 Songs About Nashville That Capture the Highs and Lows of Music City

Nashville is the heart of the country music scene. It's where you need to go if you want to really make it big in the genre and where countless country superstars continue to reside, ranging from Tim and Faith to newer faces on the scene like Luke Combs. Outside of it being the hub of recording country, it's also a popular tourist destination where country music fans flock for a taste of its southern charm and music history. Naturally, there would be a slew of country songs dedicated to the one and only Music City.

From tales of following your dreams to an honest look at how many hopefuls won't be able to become superstars, these are 12 of the best songs about Nashville, one of the most storied cities in country music.

12. "Bachelorettes on Broadway,"  Willie Jones

Nashville may be the historic home of country music, but Willie Jones took a different angle in this song. Music City has also been one of the bachelorette capitals of the country for years, so why not take advantage of that and turn the concept into a fun party song? While the lyrics certainly explore the craziness a group of friends can have exploring Broadway, the music video really helps bring it all to life. Jumping from honky tonks and night clubs to line dancing classes and party buses, you'll see what things really look like on an average weekend when the famous downtown area is flocked with brides-to-be and their pals.

11. "Murder on Music Row," George Strait and Alan Jackson

This song was originally recorded by bluegrass group Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time in 1999, but it really hit it big when country superstars George Strait and Alan Jackson performed it together at the CMA Awards. The following year, they recorded it for Strait's Latest Greatest Straitest Hits, and, despite it never being released as a single, it hit No. 38 on the country charts and was awarded Vocal Event of the Year and Song of the Year at the 2000 CMA Awards. The song's title is a bit misleading as it's all metaphorical. Referencing the famous Music Row, the heart of the country music industry in town, it mourns the loss of "traditional country" thanks to the rise of country pop and "drums and rock 'n' roll guitars" taking the place of the traditional instruments like the fiddle.

10. "Wrong Side of Memphis," Trisha Yearwood

Originally recorded by John Berry in 1990, Yearwood took on the song as the first single for her 1992 album Hearts in Armor. Don't be misled by the mention of Memphis in the title. The lyrics are about a young woman leaving Memphis to pursue her dreams of becoming a country singer in Nashville. It's a little bluesy, a little honky tonk, with Yearwood's powerful vocals perfect to deliver the message of following your dreams in Music City.

9. "Sundown in Nashville," Marty Stuart

Don't be fooled by the upbeat tempo and friendly fiddle. The lyrics of this song definitely don't paint a positive picture of Nashville, described as "A country boy's Hollywood." This is about how countless hopefuls come to town but are only met with disappointment, heartache and failure. Stuart sings that Nashville is a place where "They sweep, broken dreams off the street." It's a darker tale of the beloved city, but memorable nonetheless.

8. "Nashville Bum," Waylon Jennings

This song starts as a classic tale of moving to Nashville to pursue dreams of country music stardom but with an interesting twist. Jennings' story revolves around a Nashville hopeful struggling to pursue his dreams, living off a pitiful diet of "ketchup soup, homemade crackers and Kool Aid." But he hasn't lost hope because he looks great in cowboy clothes and has a hook-up at the Grand Ole Opry. While he may be living the life of a "Nashville bum" now, he's getting that much closer to fulfilling his goals.

7. "Visit Me in Music City," Bobby Bare Jr

Released in 2004 on his album From the End of Your Leash, Bobby Bare Jr sings of quite an interesting Music City. He's the son of country star Bobby Bare and grew up next to George Jones and Tammy Wynette, so he's seen some of the most magical parts of Nashville and the world of country music up close. He references Grandpa Jones and Ricky Skaggs, even admitting that Music City has been good to him and his career. He then takes a whimsical turn, singing of how "Guitar strings grow on shrubs and maple trees" and "Guitar picks tumble out of gumball machines," to illustrate just how many musicians there really are in town. Famous or not, maybe you'll stay up all night writing songs no one will ever record, but Nashville is still worth it.

6. "The Nashville Scene," Hank Williams Jr

I always appreciate an honest approach to a song, and similar to "Sundown in Nashville," Hank Williams Jr sings of a different Nashville that isn't necessarily made of fulfilled dreams. Though not as dark as Marty Stuart's tale, he focuses on how the town is made of all kinds of people wanting to be "the king" and how you could meet a man begging you for whiskey on the street who used to play with Hank back in the '50s. There are two very different sides to the Nashville scene, and sometimes you don't always make it to the top.

5. "Nashville, TN," Chris Stapleton

In 2015, Chris Stapleton was a breakout artist at the CMA Awards and gained mass appeal for his popular Justin Timberlake collaboration. This song is kind of a breakup song with the Nashville Stapleton once knew that helped him pursue his dreams of writing and recording music, but has since changed. He references some notable Music City landmarks getting torn down, including the first studio where he saw an album recorded. Following his newfound success, his family had to temporarily move into a rental house to avoid the mass groups of tourists wanting to catch a glimpse of him at his home, so he's also navigating a new normal in town, barely recognizing himself or the city he loves. Released on his 2020 album Starting Over, the song is a beautiful conclusion to the album, with Stapleton getting honest and vulnerable with fans about how his career has changed over the years.

4. "Nashville Without You," Tim McGraw

In this 2013 tune, Tim McGraw honors all the big names that came before him in Nashville and paved the way for future singers. See if you can catch all of the songs and singers he name drops in this sweet song that says without all of these legends, Nashville would just be another river city. But they all helped turn it into the special place it is today and was for McGraw when he moved to town with a dream.

3. "Crazy Town," Jason Aldean 

In his own catchy Jason Aldean way, the country hitmaker paints a specific picture of Nashville as a city with "neon dreams." It may be crazy, as in you could get your car repossessed as you struggle to make it big and the next year make a million bucks. But that's just how the music biz goes, at least in Music City.

2. "Down on Music Row," Dolly Parton

Any songs about coming from nothing and fulfilling your dreams are inspiring, especially when it comes from Dolly Parton. The beloved musician has been open about her humble beginnings before she made it to Nashville and became one of the biggest stars of all time. Parton sings of showing up to town "Sleepy, hungry, tired and dirty" but excited to be there and get her songs heard, which eventually paid off. Unlike some of the other songs on this list, Parton's take is an inspiring story of following your passions — "Down on music row, If you want to be a star, That's where you've got to go."

1. "Devil, Devil (Prelude: Princess of Darkness)," Eric Church

Released on his 2014 album The Outsiders, this 8 min song is one fascinating ride through Music City. The first half is all spoken word, with Church explaining that Nashville is a "temptress" that will really draw you in. But he also appreciates the town for what it is, and name drops everyone from the Man in Black to Merle.

READ MORE: 20 Best Country Songs About Tennessee