Music

Charley Crockett Skewers the Nashville Star-Making Machine in ‘Music City USA’

“I shouldn’t have come here in the first place, cause folks in here don’t like my kind,” Charley Crockett sings in “Music City USA,” the title track of his new album. The video for the song underscores the cynicism of those lyrics and follows the throwback country singer as he makes his way — anonymously — through Nashville’s crowded Broadway district.

Bruce Robison, himself a Nashville outsider, cameos in the video as a slick record-label exec. “Charley, Charley, Charley,” he says condescendingly, “Every single one of those people down there want to be sitting in that chair. Do you know that? And I just don’t know if you’re ready to play the game.”

But Crockett has no interest in playing the game — not the one that makes prefabricated stars anyway. In the “Music City USA” video, he seeks out the bastions of the genre, like the Ryman Auditorium, Ernest Tubb’s record shop, and even the hidden gem the Nashville Palace. “I have a thing with Nashville,” the Texas native told Rolling Stone in March, going on to recount how his vintage sound’s been received in town. “’Sixties country music’ are not popular words to say in 2021. I’ve put out a lot of records, and it’s always the same shit, there’s always some publicist or somebody you deal with telling you not to say ‘Sixties country.’”

Along with the music video, Crockett’s Music City USA arrives with the documentary Charley Crockett: The Road to Music City USA, a 45-minute making-of that probes both the origins of the LP and the artist. “People think my story is far-fetched,” he told Rolling Stone, “but the thing is, I’ve toned it down.”

Crockett will perform at next week’s AmericanaFest in Nashville and make his Austin City Limits debut on October 30th.

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