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The Music of Nashville: An Essential Playlist

"The music is as much a part of the narrative as the dialogue," according to creator Callie Khouri.

Liz Raftery

The official soundtrack for ABC's Nashville was released this week, and in case you haven't been keeping up with the series, we've put together a playlist to help you catch up before it returns in January.

"The music is as much a part of the narrative as the dialogue," according to creator Callie Khouri, whose husband, renowned producer T-Bone Burnett, is the series' musical director. (Check out ABC's accompanying On the Record web series for additional insights into the music from the actors and producers.)

And not to worry -- though Nashville takes place in the titular country music capital of the world, its songs have mass appeal, even for viewers who aren't fans of twang. With the character of Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) in particular, the show has jumped on the Taylor Swift bandwagon and is riding it all over the blurry pop-country landscape. And though the actors perform all the songs on the soundtrack themselves, Burnett, Khouri and the behind-the-scenes team have tapped songwriters including Elvis Costello, Kate York, and local Nashville-ites to pen the music.

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Here are our Top 5 tracks from the soundtrack:

"Love Like Mine" - Written by Kelly Archer, Justin Weaver and Emily Shackelton, performed by Juliette (Panettiere)
Juliette's hit single, which she performs in front of a screaming stadium audience in the pilot episode, made it clear from the start that Nashville's music was going to be as engaging as its story lines.Good luck getting this one out of your head.

"I Will Fall" - Written by Kate York and Tyler James, performed by Scarlett and Gunnar (Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio)
"The songs are always the subtext for what they're actually experiencing," says Khouri about the songwriting duo Scarlett and Gunnar. "They're always singing songs about people falling in love with each other, or unrequited love." This tearjerker of a ballad is the track they're working on when Scarlett's boyfriend Avery (Jonathan Jackson) walks in on them. Awkward!

Nashville: Good guys vs. bad guys

"Buried Under" - Written by Natalie Hemby and Chris DeStefano, performed by Rayna (Connie Britton)
When Rayna tells her husband Teddy (Eric Close) she's writing a song about herself "for once," the end result is "Buried Under," which we learn will be the first track recorded for her new album and the one that will mark the debut of her new, edgier sound. "It's about her dad and then all the stuff that kind of unfolds with Teddy," says Britton, "and it's sort of about this world that she's been intertwined in for her whole life."

"Undermine" - Written by Trent Dabbs and Kacey Musgraves, performed by Juliette and Deacon (Panettiere and Charles Esten)
The song that Juliette and Deacon write together is a real eye-opener for him. "It's the first time that you really see her talent and the heart behind her, being able to write it right off the top of her head," explains Panettiere. "It's a really great moment." No wonder they end up in bed together after the session!

"Twist of Barbwire" - Written by Elvis Costello, performed by Avery (Jackson)
Struggling musician Avery is resentful of his girlfriend Scarlett's musical success, so he writes songs like the sharply self-pitying "Twist of Barbwire" to deal with his frustration. (Fun fact: Jackson is an accomplished songwriter in his own right, and has been playing in the indie rock band Enation since 2002.)

Nashville returns Wednesday, Jan. 9 at 10/9c on ABC.