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Dave Cobb: Wrangling Rough Country Beasts Toward Nashville

The main room at RCA’s historic Studio A is a cavernous multistory space with towering white walls, a wooden balcony laced with holiday lights, and black, ironwork chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. Built in 1965 by the producer and guitarist Chet Atkins, the studio helped establish this small section of the city, which now houses a profusion of record-label offices, music publishing houses and other studios, as Music Row. On a snowy afternoon early last month, the producer Dave Cobb, who will take over the lease for Studio A on April 1, sat beside a statue of Nipper, the old RCA mascot, and marveled at his surroundings.

“The first time everybody walks in here, it takes a second to acclimate,” he said. “I love old Waylon Jennings records. They were recorded right here” — he pointed at the floor below his feet — “literally, right here!” He motioned across the room. “Dolly Parton recorded ‘Jolene’ over there.”

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