Thursday, November 19, 2009

young country as an enigma wrapped inside a fuddruckers

let me define young country thru my eyes-i googled the term and it doesn't really seem to exist as anything tangible-so i'll try and explain if you aren't familiar (garth brooks to the left throwing the javelin at OSU)

young country( as a timeline)-well, around the 70's things started to get a little fishy with your novelty hits and crossovers (um your charlie rich, your mickey gilley uh, yeah, your ray stevens) the 80s were about slicking it up but keeping it real (alabama, conway twitty, your ronnie milsap if you will) the 90's i'm afraid is when we had a tough little marketing major from stillwater, oklahoma named garth brooks appear -you can't pin the entire, final demolition of real country on garth, just like you can't pin the entire holocaust on hitler, but you can make a fine argument. With his degree in marketing tucked under his saddle, the untalented mr. brooks unleashed his cracker barrel touchstone 'no fences' on society, forever destroying any chance real country music had left -oh sure, a dwight yoakam pops up here or an alison krauss pops up there, but that's pure anomaly. This is when 10's of thousands of sorority girls took notice of the hats and belt buckles -this is when garth was hosting frickin' SNL -this is when hank sr started spinning so fast in his coffin that an F5 twister erupted from the Oakwood Annex Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama. To today, well- i just can't say what it's turned into -it is such a disfigured, wholly unrecognizable abortion that it leaves no trace of the stark, genuinely moving art form my dad forced on me.

i didn't mean to lament so much on the death of country music -that's been done a billion times-the real mystery here is, young country- who buys it and why?who makes it and why?

first i gotta tell you, whenever i was on the road, we would always tune in one of these stations for laughs- the flag, the lord, cold beer, takin' a stand, sexy tractors, lovin' dirt roads! then into the right now- the bizarre transition into emasculated country male singer-singing about his woman's monthly cycle, how she takes the kids to soccer practice (didn't bob wills cover this ground already?)and he's just gosh dang de durned boodle doodle doodle amazed at his baby's love for him. When did the young country hotshot hand over the keys to his truck and his nutsack? So there's that, i mean it's just slumming it for laughs and you would never buy something like this, it's just snarky pass the time bs-but MILLIONS do-they think it's real-they don't appear to understand these songs are being written in conference rooms across america by a team of marketing geniuses aiming right for their rednecks. These songs mean nothing and are about nothing-please ref craig morgan's 'bonfire' for a perfect example of the crass, blatant disrespect country songwriters have for their audience currently. It's not EVEN CATCHY- WHY WOULD YOU BUY THIS-BECAUSE IT'S ABOUT PARTYING?/? IS THAT REALLY IT? yeah it is!- the genre now is whatever cliche is being hammered into the brain of american society and then you build a 'song' around it- i have a bunch i've kind of half started so here you go nashville, these are on me -'too much information' 'tell it to the hand' 'sucks to be you' 'it was my bad' 'he's been drinkin' (the kool aide) again' and the ballad for the female recording artist, (i've noticed girls don't get to be funny in young country -just serious or sassy) 'what color is the sky in your world?'

the second part is the most disturbing for me as a musician first and then as a fan. I realize nobody wants to hear that being on the road sucks and all the countless hours you spend writing, rehearsing , recording, revising , eating fast food , various intense pressures, i could go on-all i'm saying is you have to be insane to do this for any other reason than you love it with all your heart and soul- and i know these guys (your trace adkins, your toby keith, er uh your brad paisley-etc etc etc) didn't set out on this journey to be shoveling
this shit-that seems impossible - YOU COULD NOT KNOWINGLY WANT TO SING 'HONKY TONK BADONKADONK' i just can't imagine being in the booth, singing that seriously -i did one jingle my entire 'career' just to see what it was like -i felt so dirty and ashamed i literally ran home and took a bath-you could dig a ditch or landscape or help the elderly rather than record and toxify the world with one more of these calculated insults. I just don't know how you go out and sing it night after night-money ain't everthing, cowboy. As a fan of all the greats, you know who they are, it just makes me sad. I know things change and progress but that doesn't mean it has to become unlistenable feces- i love the ridiculous pop song que sara sara from 1956 and i love the ridiculous pop song womanizer now-there's still good to be found in all music from then and now is what i'm saying-except for country-and man, you used to be beautiful...

my favorites playlist

lonesome fugitive -merle haggard
lost highway-hank willilams sr
the grand tour-george jones-
why me lord-kris kristofferson
under your spell again-buck owens
sunday morning coming down-johnny cash
mind your own business-hank williams sr
she thinks i still care-george jones
there stands the glass-ted hawkins version is awesome
hello walls-willie nelson
crazy-patsy cline
she's got you-patsy cline
night life-willie nelson
don't worry about me-marty robbins
you're gonna change or i'm gonna leave-hank sr
this time-dwight yoakam
sorry you asked? -dwight yoakam
alison krauss-new favorite
alison krauss-who can blame you

that's good for now


  1. Yeah, watched the CMAs the other night. Only bc I wanted to see wtf screwed up my evening commute. Embarassed to be from Nashville. And, um, when did the country music association become the has been pop artists association? Darius Rucker, Dave Matthews, Chris Daughtry. Only decent (note: not great) things were Reba, Sugarland and Keith Urban - at least they have some kind of talent.

    But you left some of the good ones of yesteryear out...Conway Twitty, Faron Young, Tammy Wynette and because I can't help it - The Judds. ;-)

    Best ever - George Jones. I took my first steps to him singing on TV.

    And newer artist that records songs that will still make you feel something (that isn't contrived) - Lee Ann Womack.

  2. I wouldn't call myself a country purist to the upteenth degree but I hadn't watched the CMA Awards, either, in a number of years. For me the calling card was George Strait since he was the only country singer who appealed to me that's currently on the radio. I don't have to watch the awards to see performances anymore because they're typically uploaded on-line somewhere.

    But getting to the point, I became sickened by the CMA's when they cut off what I call the legend spotlight. The segment where they'd formally induct people into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Along with seeing George Strait sing, the Hall of Fame segment was what I'd watch the award shows for in the years prior to my getting a computer.

    When the CMA decided to cut off the Hall of Fame segment it was like a nail in the coffin. A lot of the legends who were shut out at country radio were growing increasingly distant with the next generation of listeners coming along in the 1990's. I feel the Hall of Fame segment on the CMA telecasts was for some artists much-needed exposure on national TV since country radio wasn't playing their music anymore.

    But someone came along earlier this decade and decided to get rid of the Hall of Fame segment...for the last several years the Hall of Fame ceremonies have been conducted at the Hall of Fame with only limited press coverage. If memory serves me correctly, the last time the CMA featured a Hall of Fame segment was in 2001 or 2002.

    Perhaps they, meaning the show's producers, want to focus only on the "hot and new" acts? It's hard to tell...but the CMA was once an award show where all ages and tastes in country was put in the spotlight. All one has to do is look up the archives of the CMA Awards and see that 90% of the award winners/nominees and performers ran the gamut from current super-stars, to established super-stars, to the legends. There wasn't any desire, as far as I know, to showcase only a certain select group of artists and push the others off the stage. An awards show is going to typically always get a big rating score...the producers will say "ratings" are why they only focus on "hot, new acts" but in reality that's a bunch of bull crap.

    The ratings have nothing to do with it...the demographics are what controls those decisions. They want only a certain age group to watch the CMA's and they only want to please a certain age group...I'd say the 18-39 age group. This is why if anyone listens to "new country" or "young country" radio stations you'll hear songs by those who appeal to that age group, whether they sound country or not.