Saturday, January 26, 2013

Inspiring Names - 'Nashville'

The Cast of 'Nashville'
I'm starting to think I have a real thing for these southern shows. The first for me was 'True Blood', sultry, sassy and the supernatural in Louisiana. Then I fell in love with 'Hart of Dixie', loaded with sweet charm and quirkiness and set in a small town called Bluebell in Alabama. And now it's 'Nashville', a portrayal of the drama and politics it takes to rise to the top and stay there in the competitive country music capital, in Tennessee.

'Nashville' didn't pull me in as immediately as the other two, but I'm addicted now none the less. And like any good scripted TV show, there is a multitude of great character names to mull over in this one. My favourites (and I'll admit up front that I may be strongly influenced by how much I also like the characters here) are:

The title and city gives us the cool cowboy name possibility of Nash. The city was founded and named for Francis Nash, but his surname has now become a hot given name. It entered the American charts for boys in 1910, but not the top 1000 until 1997, when the show 'Nash Bridges' firmly cemented Nash in our minds as a first name possibility. Fast forward to 2011, and Nash is positioned at #519. Ash and Ash names have long been hugely popular. The addition of the N gives it a fresh sound, and fits right in with other current favourites Dash and Cash. Plus short, "manly" names are looking hot for 2013.

Rayna Jaymes (played by Connie Britton) is a superstar on the 'Nashville' country music circuit, and one of the leading ladies of the show. Whoever named this character did a good job - in Hebrew Rayna means 'song of the lord' and in Latin or Russian Rayna means 'queen', both of which fit this character. Rayna has been present in the American charts since the 1930's, but only became a regular in the top #1000 in the late 90's. It peaked at #756 in 2008, so is a familiar but not common name. Alternative spelling Raina is only slightly more popular. I feel like the Rayna spelling looks more "namey", whereas Raina looks more like rain and less regal. But then again Rayna could be mistaken for a feminine version of Ray, which might not appeal to some. Either way, I quite like the sound of Rayna, and think the name was well chosen for the show.

Juliette (Hayden Panettiere) and Rayna (Connie Britton)
While Rayna is the veteran of the industry, Juliette Barnes (played by Hayden Panettiere) is the new comer to the scene. I think she's meant to have a Taylor Swift-esque career, but with more of a nasty, jaded attitude behind the scenes (and it's great to see Hayden playing a darker character than her cheerleader days). Juliette comes from Juliet, a Latin name meaning 'youthful'. The "ette" makes it feel even younger, as it is generally used to mean 'smaller'. Since one of the main themes of the show is that Juliette's youth makes her both a inexperienced in the industry (and prone to making some unwise career decisions), her youth and quick success is also a threat to Rayna. And just like Shakespeare's Juliet, this Juliette is somewhat of a tragic but vulnerable character, who also flirts with a marriage into a family who deem her "unsuitable" due to her own family background. This makes it another successfully chosen name.

Deacon Claybourne (played by Charles Esten) is Rayna's long term guitar player, ex-flame and ex-alcoholic. He is almost as legendary in the country music world as Rayna is. Deacon has Greek origins, and means 'dusty one, servant, messenger'. It's also a title for a church officer or cleric. Again, these things could be said to apply to 'Nashville's Deacon. He's been around a long time, backing up Rayna, and now helps other reformed alcoholics as well as occasionally providing some wise, much needed advice to others in the show. Like Nash, Deacon has that cowboy feel to it, but also feels almost Irish/Scottish, possibly due to it's similarity to names such as Declan and Duncan. Deacon has charted in America since the late 60's/early 70's,  but really started leaping up the charts since the year 2000. In 2011 is was #66, and possibly still rising. I think the cowboy/ honest church official associations makes for a wholesome sounding name with just a touch of bad boy to it.

Scarlett is a name that that has been shooting up the American charts in the past decade, entering the top 100 at position #80 in 2011. Scarlett O'Connor is played by young Aussie actress Clare Bowen, and her wide eyed innocence and modesty makes for a great contrast against the similar age Juliette. Scarlett is Deacon's niece, and her O'Connor surname further hints at an Irish/Scottish connection for this family. Or maybe the writers were just aiming for some similarity to famous southern belle, Scarlett O'Hara. Like O'Hara, this Scarlett is passionate about her man, before realising she is naive. It takes a different man who really believes in her to give her the strength to assert herself and realise there is more potential to her than supporting a man.

While these are my favourites, the show is full of other great names, many or which are currently gaining in popularity. As an aside, looks like "ie"/y endings are quite popular in 'Nashville'!

Gunnar, played by Brit actor
Sam Palladio



  1. these are really awesome names can't decide the names because it's really awesome names. really gonna share this blog with frnds. than you.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.