Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a Nashvillian” or the Nashville experience. “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”
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Interview with singer-songwriter Jim Callahan
by Dave Carew
For the past three years in a row, Jim Callahan has been ranked one of the Top 25 Nashville-based Alternative Artists by ReverbNation.com.
Though he cites musical influences from Hank Williams to Bob Dylan to ‘50s music, Jim’s music defies easy categorization. “A few folks have attempted to label my music,” Jim says. “It’s been called ‘Neo-Traditionalist Country,’ and it’s been called ‘Americana’ . . . . It’s just a blend of everything available musically from the 50’s through the current times. It’s my life in music.”
Underground Nashville recently caught up with Jim Callahan, immediately after the Internet release of his new song “The Poet.” Here’s how our interview went:
UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE: What is the most important thing people should know about your songwriting?
JIM CALLAHAN: What I write and perform are songs that reflect my life and/or the life of those around me. I try to be truthful without being hurtful, as I hold up a mirror for my fans, friends, and family to gaze into. The most important aspect of my writing is that I have no particular loyalty to any style. We’ve all seen and heard artists who get “locked” into a particular style, and although we like their initial work, we become quickly bored as they become predictable. That’s not me. Mark Holden with MusicSupervisor.com said of me, “He is unpredictable; every song is an original, nothing is off the rack.”
UN: What was the specific inspiration for your new song “The Poet”? Why did you feel compelled to write it?
JC: I asked several different young writers to work with me on a song idea I had that would compare the difficulties of being “too old” and being “too young” in the music business. One by one, they all turned me down. Disappointed, I awoke at 4:30 a.m. one morning with “The Poet” inside me, waiting to get out. About 90 percent of it fell out of my head and onto the paper in just a few minutes. Is it autobiographical? In part, yes, but it’s also the story of hundreds of thousands of other singer-songwriters who simply want you to listen and acknowledge their work. “The Poet” has been chosen as the title track for my soon-to-be-released album, and is the subject of a (West coast) theatrical production in the works.
UN: Where can people see you play live in Nashville–or otherwise hear more of your music–during the next few months?
JC: From my website, http://www.JimCallahanSongs.com you can find links to all of the major social sites, as well as links to music downloads, free streaming, performance dates, etc. Some of my upcoming performances include:
January 25th ~Two Old Hippies ~401 12th Ave, South, Nashville ~ 5 to 7 pm
February 4th ~ The Zlist House Concert ~ Franklin Tennessee (contact terry.seay@ItsAllAboutZmusic.Com for an invitation and details)
February 11th ~The Listening Room Café ~ 209 10th Ave, South, Nashville ~ 7 – 8:30 pm
To inquire about bookings (clubs, private parties, house concerts) email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit JimCallahanSongs.com.
David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, and advertising/marketing/public relations writer.