UNDERGROUND SAMPLER SERIES
Check this out, great idea. Great and hit songs done by the writers, all of whom are excellent musicians. Lovers of song and certainly songwriters owe it to themselves to be looking into this. I meet many people today who are aficionados of "essential" music, songs done without a lot of production, preferably by the writers. Certainly this speaks to their values as well.
But consider this, too, that many of these great songs have been put through the Nashville machine. Along the way that includes compression, pitch correction, orchestration, and a host of other factors, a lot of the original intent and spirit of the song is sometimes lost. On the other hand, sometimes the end product is so staggering, it's hard to pick the elements apart and understand how it got there. (I always had that experience listening to the incredible #1 for Ty Herndon, "What Mattered Most." But listening to this pretty version by writer Gary Burr, it's more bare and understandable, somehow.)
Now, I'm not saying that I'm gonna run out and get the personal CDs of all these writers. (Though some of them I will.) But these two samplers tell an amazing story. They put the listener much closer to the room and the day these great songs were conceived than the hit records do. When the melodies and the lyrics are laid bare by the people who sat down with a guitar and pulled them out of the ether, it's a whole different experience of the song. Though many or all of these writers have their own CDs, none are major recording artists. But they're all hit songwriters. In Nashville, this is a more normal thing. But to the rest of the world, it's a rare look behind the scenes.
It's also common to hear in Nashville that the hit single didn't "beat" the demo, that the original recording of the song pitched to the artist or producer was the best one, not the one that got on the radio. Don't know if that's true here, but there are some fantastic or otherwise illuminating versions of amazing songs. (Hugh Prestwood singing "The Song Remembers When" always kills me.)