Growing up in Nashville, Tennessee, as the kid of a New York Jew and a New Jersey WASP, I didn’t listen to a lot of country music. But in high school, when my horseback-riding, naturally-twangy friend Casey introduced me to the country crossover trio The Dixie Chicks, it unlocked a new connection to and appreciation for my hometown. On our afternoon drives home from school, as Casey and I passed the recording studios and record label headquarters on Music Row—windows open to the sweet Nashville humidity, Dixie Chicks blaring, each of us harmonizing along—I grew to love the musical genre that had once sounded foreign in my ears. Country music, with its aching vocal melodies and wistful narratives, was the music of my town, and I became a home-grown convert and believer. “Heartbreak Town,” written by Darrell Scott, premiered on the Dixie Chicks’ 2001 album Fly. The singer tells a story of moving to the big city to pursue dreams of stardom. In “Heartbreak Town,” that city is Nashville—“Music City”—where singers, musicians, and songwriters from all over the US and beyond congregate in hopes of topping the charts. The heartbreak is the inevitable pain that comes in the struggle to chase those dreams. Starting out in Nashville, I’ve always had my eye on other big cities. This past May I left New Haven and headed out to another Heartbreak Town in search of “stardust”—as the song says. And so this song both reminds me of my hometown and refers to my new home as well. Here’s hoping it’s not all heartbreak ahead.
Henry Gottfried is an actor currently residing in Brooklyn, New York. Send him an email at email@example.com.