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Nashville Chrome: A Book Review

Updated on March 3, 2011

Nashville Chrome is a novel by Rick Bass about the singing group, The Browns. The Browns were Jim Ed, Maxine and Bonnie Brown. While it is a novel, it reads like a biography.

The Browns

The Browns were siblings born and raised in Arkansas. Their voices meshed together when singing harmony as only those from the same family can. They began singing and winning contests, then moving on to radio shows and the became country stars with hit records. In the late 1950s they had a crossover hit adapted from a French folk song named The Three Bells.This hit gained them popularity in the folk and popular field as well as country. This brought them international fame by appearing on The Ed Sullivan and other national shows, They were big enough to trade hits on the charts with Elvis Presley.

Nashville Chrome

Nashville Chrome is a novel by Rick Bass about The Browns. It starts in the Arkansas woods at their alcoholic father's sawmill and moves through their life. Jim Ed Brown and his sisters, Maxine and Bonnie, start singing in contests and winning. The applause and standing ovations pull them into singing for radio show and eventually a shady promoter that gets rich and pays them next to nothing. During this time they meet Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and several other singers.

They become good friends with Presley and he becomes interested in Bonnie. Their story interweaves with Elvis until they are performers in different worlds. His is of unimaginable success, and theirs of struggling to make a penny.

Their music was the pivot point between country before them, and modern country. When they got to The Grand Old Opery, Little Jimmie Dickens refused to speak to them or shake their hands. He didn't consider them country and felt they shouldn't be there.

The Browns were together a short time and disolved when they stopped getting record deals and jobs. Jim Ed continued on as a solo performer, and Maxine missed the applause and standing ovations. she continued to try to get pack into the limelight.

This is a fictional book, but Bass had cooperation with the Browns, and it reads like a biography. Bass mentions that Maxine has a book if someone wants the exact dates and details. Nashville Chrome is a good read to anyone that is interested in country music, or earlier days of the music industry.


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