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Why Songwriter Michael Anderson Still Believes in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Michael Anderson was admiring the rugged and industrial confines of Marathon Village prior to a sit down meeting and interview with Music City Nashville on Wednesday, November 11, 2020. The one time auto manufacturing plant and current site of the American Pickers outpost Antique Archaeology reminded him of his boyhood days growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


Michael Anderson still believes in Nashville.

But, the "rust belt" wouldn't be his home for long. Michael began his lifelong tenure in the music industry playing bass in rock bands honing his chops and earning a living playing five sets a night, six days per week in the mid to late 70's. When he was in a serious two car motor vehicle accident at the hand's of a drunk driver he was left badly injured with time to contemplate where his life was going. Wary of another Michigan winter that was soon descending he decided to try his luck in Los Angeles, California with a move to the Golden State in August of 1977 to pursue the creation of original music.

"What they hadn't told me, was that you could play original material in the clubs, but nobody paid you," Anderson recalled of his early days on the Hollywood strip. "So, I hit the old starvation routine and played every single club I could play and started playing in other people's bands."


Anderson is an author and currently leads a new band called Hard Redemption.

This forced interaction with other musicians on the scene led to Anderson's first big break eventually joining up with the late power-pop sensation Phil Seymour and Mudcrutch drummer Randall Marsh in various configurations. Along the way Anderson was recognized for his own songwriting and he signed a deal with Critereon Publishing. His fortune really began to change for the better when he decided to visit their small office on Music Row in 1984.

"The girl I stayed with at Critereon had a little guest house and that's where I wrote 'Maybe It Was Memphis' right then and there," Anderson recalled fondly of his first week in Music City. "When I left Nashville, I left the demo there. Never did know what happened - or what would happen to it."


Check out the powerful title track from Michael Anderson's critically acclaimed debut record.

What did happen was Anderson returned to L.A. and signed a record deal with A&M Records who would release his critically-acclaimed record Sound Alarm in 1988. Meanwhile back in Nashville, Pam Tillis would walk into the Critereon office and stumble on to "Maybe It Was Memphis" when the company's secretary handed her a mix tape that featured her favorite tracks from the roster. The song struck gold when her second and most successful version of the track was recorded on her 1991 album Put Yourself in My Place peaking at number 3 in February 1992 on the Billboard country charts.

Having achieved many of his goals in songwriting Anderson stayed in Nashville until the end of the Millennium before heeding the call of the California sun once again for the last two decades. It was a press release sent to our office that alerted us to the fact that Michael has returned to Music City once more and we wanted to find out why.


Kelly Clarkson puts her persuasive spin on "Maybe It Was Memphis".

"Nashville has always been magic for me creatively. I've written a lot of songs and did really well in Los Angeles. But, in Hollywood it always felt like work," Anderson remarked. "In Nashville, there's something in the water or there's something in the air about songs. The players in Nashville are the best in the world and they don't even know what they're doing. It's almost an unconscious brilliance that comes out of them here."

Since returning the Music City magic has continued unabated for the man and his music. He formed a new recording unit called Hard Redemption that explores the signature country rock hybrid sound he has crafted since the 70's. Four weeks ago Michael married his bandmate and co-founder Soraiya Campbell in a small private ceremony on the banks of the Cumberland River. On November 10, Kelly Clarkson performed a version of "Maybe It Was Memphis" on her talk show that got the industry buzzing once again, And, on the day we met for this interview, together we had a chance meeting with Barry Walker - owner of Marathon Village. Anderson and Walker found out they shared many acquaintances in Memphis and made plans to meet up again at some point in the future to further discuss the music and magic that still exists here in Mid-Tenn.


Michael Anderson with Marathon Village owner Barry Walker.

Related Links: For more information on MICHAEL ANDERSON and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- Michael Anderson | Hard Redemption | Marathon Village | READ Part 2: Meeting My Heroes - Michael Anderson

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