Berkeley Springs native has made a career in Nashville
by Jazz Clark
For 25 years, Dale Dodson has enjoyed a career producing, writing and hyping music for major labels in Nashville.
Known as Chris while growing up in Berkeley Springs, Dodson moved to Nashville after high school to make it as a songwriter.
He got into Opryland, Nashville’s amusement park and country jamboree based on their famous radio program, the Grand Ol’ Opry. He met what he calls the “first generation” of country music professionals in 1987, who helped him establish his career.
At 22, Dodson joined Sony, now one of the biggest music companies in the nation.
“Sony is the Yankees of the publishing world, they always win,” Dodson said. “Sony owns everything, it’s one-stop shopping.”
He spends much of his time going through their back-catalogue and plugging new and old music. Sony has rights to music by artists from The Beatles to Merle Haggard to Taylor Swift.
About 20 of the songs he’s plugged have gone on to be number one on the charts by popular artists like George Strait or Martina McBride.
While none of the songs he’s written have gone number one so far, he has hit in the top 20s. He’s written for Alan Jackson and Lee Ann Womack, among others.
Dodson also produces a bit for Carnival Music, a small independent company that specializes in rootsy and alternative country music. Dodson says Carnival is a good place for more “country” country and something lyrically different.
Nashville is a great songwriter’s town and a wonderful place to live, but can be very cut-throat, he said.
“Nashville is a forgetful town. It has a bad memory. The kind of place where when you lose your job, you’re the last person to find out,” Dodson said.
Even so, he thinks any young person who wants to break into the music business should try before it’s too late.
“Take the chance while you’re still young and your heart is burning,” he said. “Just make sure to have a backup plan, like college.”
Nashville is a “relationship” town, where internships and contacts are everything. You also have to keep reinventing yourself, to stay relevant, he said.
Despite all his years in Nashville, Dodson has never forgotten his hometown.
“Berkeley Springs is a great town, I love coming home,” he said.
His most exciting recent project was a tribute album to Hank Cochran by Jamey Johnson that will be released this week. It includes an appearance by Asleep at the Wheel on “I Don’t Do Windows.”
Now 43, Dodson said that even if he stops now, working with music was the best thing he could have done with his life. But he doesn’t want to retire for another 20 years.