Tuesday music musings, 07.05.2019

May 7, 2019

Lil Nas X and “Old Town Road” country, huh?

Negative, Ghostrider.

It may well be more country than (insert mainstream country song or artist here), but that’s more of a commentary on the toxic waste dump mainstream country has become than the actual merit of this as a country song. I listened to it, and sonically speaking it’s just your standard hip-hop song, which is fine if that’s your thing. But the arguments I have seen for this being a country song are absolutely insane.

“He sings about horses! And cheating on his girlfriend!”

Well hey, bully for him. But that doesn’t make “Old Town Road” a country song. I have mentioned this before, but some years ago, I heard someone make the observation that Metallica’s “Wherever I May Roam” was as good a loner song as anything Merle Haggard ever wrote. And they were right. That song and “Ramblin’ Fever,” thematically speaking, were identical to each other:

Rover, wanderer, nomad, vagabond, call me what you will…anywhere I roam, where I lay my head is home…

…and I don’t leave the highway long enough, to bog down in the mud, ’cause I’ve got ramblin’ fever in my blood….

So is Merle the metal titan? Is Metallica the revered country legend? These are the questions we have to ask these days, I guess, just to show how thoroughly fucked up things are with country music anymore.

And then there was this, roughly paraphrased from a random Redditor:

“George Strait’s ‘You Look So Good In Love’ was co-written by the dude who co-produced and co-wrote all the songs on Alanis Morrissette’s Jagged Little Pill!!”

(Glen Ballard, for the record.)

Yes, and Gary Stewart’s “Out Of Hand” — one of the greatest hard-country songs of the 1970s — was co-written by Jeff Barry, whose discography includes some of the most iconic pop songs of the 1960s, including Manfred Mann’s “Do Way Diddy Diddy,” the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” and the Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love.” So that argument doesn’t work either.

“B-b-b-but, Sam Hunt! And Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan!”

Yes, we know. We went over them when Beyonce’s “Daddy Lessons” not being a country song was the outrage du jour, if not before.

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And then we have this from Galleywinter, in response to a certain piece from Trigger:

Maren Morris and any other artist can do whatever he/she damn well pleases. It’s not their job to fit into a genre. It’s their calling to produce what speaks to them & follow the muse wherever it leads. It is the audience that determines boundaries & it really doesn’t matter.

Whenever someone doesn’t produce what the Texas audience feels is true we are quick to cry sellout and move on. The same goes for national acts and pop. It really doesn’t and shouldn’t matter.

Listen to what you want and ignore the rest. Some stuff is bad and some people still like it. Genre “restrictions” be damned.

Play something unrestricted today. And do it loudly.

Willie Nelson ignored and blasted “restrictions” in the 70s and it ended up creating just about all that has followed.

One final note. Maren Morris has been a badass since she was a teenager playing 4 hour basement gigs in The Stockyards alongside the likes of Josh Weathers and Cody Jinks. She’s paid her dues and can make whatever she wants. Listen or don’t.

I don’t necessarily want to get bogged down in the debate about Maren Morris in particular, but I will say that I doubt Trigger or anyone else carping about her would be so het up had Nashville “country” in general not turned into the flaming pile of shit that it’s been since about 2010 or so.

I will say that we can talk about alleged genre “restrictions” until the sun burns out, and that’s all fine and good, but, well, let’s just put it like this:

What would we say if, God forbid, George Strait started making music that sounded like Sam Hunt? Or if Jason Boland started doing songs like “That’s My Kind of Night”? I would bet the cost of my house that we’d all be raising hell. Because when you say those names, there are certain standards that are expected to be met. You might even call them “boundaries” if you like.

The same thing applies more generally to country music as a genre. When the term “country music” is uttered, there are a lot of us who have certain expectations and hold certain standards as to what that term means. And frankly, I don’t see anything wrong with that.

More than all of that, whether anyone wants to admit it, country music has always been the bastard stepchild of American popular music genres. A perfect example of such I saw recently, when some tabloid music webzine said George Strait was paying homage to Elvis Presley with “Milk Cow Blues,” when Strait said he actually got that song off an old Bob Wills album that came out when Elvis was all of six years old. Furthermore, you don’t ever hear rap fans talking about how a song is “too rap.” You don’t ever hear metal fans say a song is “too metal.” But you do hear alleged country fans say a song is “too country,” and you hear people apologizing for what it was, i.e., “this isn’t your grandfather’s country music.” There are a lot of us who are highly cognizant of that phenomenon, and it pisses us off. Sure, Maren Morris has the right to make the music she wants. But I don’t see anything wrong with calling her out for calling it country music when it’s nothing of the sort.

Perhaps that’s the worst part of Trigger’s rant here, is that it causes people to come out and defend Maren’s music when it doesn’t deserve a shred of such. 

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Just some thoughts…

February 3, 2019

I would be interested to see how many people who sing the praises of Netflix, etc. for not having commercials also watch the Super Bowl specifically for the commercials. I am sure that more than a few people do just that; there’s a lesson in there somewhere.

I’m not really a sports guy, but I do follow what’s going on with the news events of the day, of which it is one every year. “Oh, so and so won, good for them.” I suppose a certain kind of person could appreciate a well-played, close game on some level, even if it’s not their thing, much like you can marvel at the Mona Lisa or whatever without being an art fiend.

(Y’all have fun, though! Enjoy your thing!)

If I was a football fan, though, I think I would have been put off the Super Bowl entirely back in 2004. I don’t remember if I watched it or not; all I remember is that it was one of the closest, most competitive contests in the history of the game…and that it was completely overshadowed by Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction during the halftime show. It was as if the game itself didn’t even matter in the end.

That does make for a neat little thing to point to when I hear people kvetch about certain singers’ live shows in which they “just stand there and sing” — you introduce this big, elaborate stage production with all the failure points, and this sort of thing is what you risk. I realize the Super Bowl would probably not be conducive to someone like George Strait playing at halftime, but at least with the commercials a screwup can be fixed before it airs. Sometimes I wonder why they even bother with a halftime show; shouldn’t the game (and maybe the commercials) be enough entertainment?

Well hey there, little dude!

January 25, 2019

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Mr. Corbin-Story Samuel came into the world on Wednesday, January 24, at 1:54 PM. 8 pounds 5 ounces, 20.75 inches, and baby and Mama are both doing just fine. 😀

Couple of random hits…

January 20, 2019

From the Houston Chronicle:

Three men are dead and a fourth was injured after an East End homeowner opened fire in self defense during an apparent home invasion early Saturday, authorities said.

Well, gee. I don’t know. Why would anyone need a semiautomatic rifle with 30-round mags?

And that reminds me, of what I said as this story was making the rounds a few months ago…

Brass knuckles against an AR-15? C’mon. Who was afraid for their life?

I am 41 years old and have a mild case of cerebral palsy, which comes with a weak right arm and leg. I can’t run away, nor can I fight hand-to-hand. I mean, I can try, but I’d just be tired when I finally got my ass whipped or killed. And I have a wife and kids. Fuck a fair fight or any of that shit. Never mind an AR-15, if a gang of teenagers came at me all armed with brass knuckles I would feel undergunned with anything short of a fucking Phalanx CIWS or GAU-8/A Avenger, but as the saying goes, ya run with what ya brung.

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And then there’s this…

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I really get tired of hearing people whine about other people getting shot over “just stuff.” What the hell are honest people supposed to do, just hand their shit over to the brigands, thereby legitimizing and encouraging that sort of behavior and hastening the downfall of society? I mean, why even work to get things if they can all be legitimately taken away by people who don’t want to get their own things honestly? And where does that sort of thing end?

“Hey, your house is just a material thing. It’s not worth shooting a home invader/squatter over.”

As I have put it before, the question shouldn’t be “are material things worth killing over?” anyway. It should be “are material things worth getting killed over?”

WTFever, Billy.

January 19, 2019

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Look, all you need to know about William Kristol is that he advocated the use of American taxpayer money to fund machine guns, RPGs and the like for Syrian rebels, but he doesn’t believe those same American taxpayers have the right to own so much as a semiautomatic rifle.

On nostalgia, etc.

January 11, 2019

Sometimes I wonder how many folks don’t have any particular fondness, nostalgic or otherwise, for the music of their formative years.

I don’t know exactly how it could be defined, but for purposes of the discussion we’ll define it as what came out when you were between 12 and 25 years old. So for me it was between 1989 and 2002. So we’ll just say ’90s country, grunge, that sort of thing. It’s funny…I listened to and bought a ton of ’90s country and did like it back then, but I eventually left most of it behind in favor of classic country and all the stuff coming out of the Texas & Oklahoma scenes. Beyond George Strait and Alan Jackson, I could take or leave most ’90s and early-2000s country anymore. I never liked the grunge thing, and I still don’t; even way back before I actually discovered the classic metal beyond all the glam stuff I was rather bewildered at how many people talked about the grunge bands killing metal like it was a good thing, and the more classic metal I hear, the more that baffles me. Nostalgia is a very powerful motivator, and a big, big seller; it’s how we still have classic rock stations playing music from more than 50 years ago. Of course a lot of that music still holds up, but I don’t necessarily mean to talk about the quality of it. I hear people waxing nostalgic about say, ’90s country, and I just think, “meh, OK” when I jammed to it just as much as anyone. I often think I really took the road less traveled as far as evolution of music tastes go…

(As an aside, it seems like way, WAY too many of my generation remember that stuff a bit too fondly. It’s like no one remembers Bryan White or Neal McCoy, or Tracy Byrd’s great voice being wasted on shit like “Watermelon Crawl.”)

Well, that’s special.

January 7, 2019

From MetalSucks, via Facebook:

I’m not sure whether I’ve ever listened to The Amity Affliction before (if I did, their music didn’t stick with me). But vocalist Joel Birch’s latest Twitter thread has inspired me to give them another shot.

Birch spotted a fan wearing a Trump jersey at the band’s show at Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas, NV on January 5th and decided to call him out from the stage. Video of the incident doesn’t exist (or hasn’t surfaced yet)…

Well then. Allow me to translate Mr. Birch’s outburst:

“So here we are, trying to make a living playing music in a world where people increasingly think music isn’t worth paying for. And here we have one of that dwindling number of people who not only is willing to part with his money but also his time to come see me and the rest of the band do what we love to do (and, again, PAY US).

“But I don’t like his political beliefs, so I’m going to embarrass and alienate him and all our other fans who share his beliefs, because we have more than enough fans already.”

And for all that, I don’t even care for Donald Trump! Stop making me sound like I am defending him!

On the San Antonio tobacco ordinance…

October 7, 2018

*knocking the rust off*…

I just saw an ad for the new San Antonio ordinance prohibiting tobacco sales to people under 21. Part of it had a woman saying, “and you don’t need it anyway.”

Excuse me, but who the hell are you to tell an adult what s/he needs and doesn’t need? “Brains not fully developed at 18, blah blah blah.” Well, brains seemed to be fully enough developed at 18 to send their owners off to the meat grinders of Southeast Asia against their will, so what’s changed since then?

“Well, let them join the military if they want to smoke and drink.”

No. That is every bit the bullshit argument that “if you want to have guns, you should join the military” is. Really, how about we try freedom for once?

Something to remember today.

May 28, 2018

Back in 2009, I remember going to the big Memorial Day celebration in Orange. The Patriot Guard Riders didn’t get to make their grand entrance as planned because of the torrential rains, but they still came. I remember that I just about lost it when Beaumont PGR chapter president Sandra Womack told everyone why they still came. She said of the fallen soldiers, “They didn’t get an opportunity to choose the weather they fought in, or to choose whether or not to go.”

We should remember that, today and every day.

On Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima…

May 16, 2018

…brought to you by a couple of my recent reads…

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I saw this one at Half Price Books a few weeks ago, but it was cheaper on Amazon.

The man in the top right corner, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, is the subject of the book. You might remember him as the commander of the Pacific Fleet when Pearl Harbor was attacked; he was subsequently relieved of his command and replaced by Chester W. Nimitz. This book was the first I had ever seen of the theory that he was made the scapegoat for others’ failures.

Suffice to say it was a revelation. I know you have to have your stuff together to get to the rank Kimmel did, but his pre-Pearl Harbor record goes above and beyond just that. He was one of the most highly-regarded officers of his day.

Which makes the whole thing even more enraging, as enlightening as it was. I really don’t know what the worst part of that whole sordid affair was, but the bit that most readily comes to mind is this:

Several people, among them then-Vice President nominee Harry S. Truman, tried to say that Kimmel and his Army counterpart, Lieutenant General Walter C. Short, did not have any kind of relationship, working or otherwise. As in, they never even talked to each other. But that was not true. They had a fine relationship, both as colleagues and as friends — in fact, they played golf together every week.

Also, both Kimmel and Short knew they were woefully undergunned; they repeatedly begged for more weapons from Washington and were refused every time. And we haven’t even gotten into the monumental amount of intercepted communications between Japanese forces in the months leading up to the attack that were kept from them. One of the people involved in that was Admiral Harold Stark, Chief of Naval Operations, whose friendship with Kimmel went back to their days at the Naval Academy. Stark basically threw Kimmel under the bus in the post-Pearl investigations…and strangely enough, kept up correspondence with him. But Kimmel was having none of it; he never responded to any of the letters, and in fact, the following was written in a draft of a letter to Stark that was found after Kimmel’s death:

“May God forgive you for what you have done to me, for I never will.”

Can’t really say that I blame him.

And then, a friend of mine brought up the possibility that the government knew what was coming and let it happen, which really got me going. Suffice it to say, that if it were true, I think that would be the textbook definition of dereliction of duty, and absolutely worthy of the gallows or the firing squad. I just would not have the words. 2,403 American servicemen dead, 2 distinguished and honorable commanders relieved and disgraced, and for what?

Yeah, I know. Casus belli and all that. But the attack would still have been a fine justification for entry into the war even if it had been an American victory. Yeah, I know. I am saying that with the benefit of 75 years of hindsight. But I am absolutely willing to admit that I may well be wrong.

Which brings me to the next book…

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God, the numbers in this book were just absolutely staggering. 12,000 B-17s rolled off assembly lines during the war. Just shy of 4,000 B-29s. For comparison, we built only 744 B-52s (all models, A through H), 100 B-1Bs….and 21 B-2s. 325 B-29s flew in one raid over Tokyo, 529 in a raid over Nagoya, and 427 in another Nagoya raid two days after that one. They dropped so much ordnance that they completely ran out of the napalm that the Navy had stockpiled for the bombs. Another friend of mine made the observation that one thing that the atomic bomb second-guessers don’t ever think about is exactly what LeMay would have done with all those bombers from the European theater plus all the B-29s all flying from as close as Okinawa instead of the Solomons.

What would he have done? He would have left the rest of Japan in smoking ruins, that’s what he’d have done. That man did not screw around. To twist something I was telling Sabra as I was reading this book, I really don’t think it’s fair to say nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the wrong thing to do when you have the benefit of almost 75 years of hindsight. People seem to whitewash Unit 731, the Rape of Nanking, and the Bataan Death March. You know that an invasion of Japan would have brought about more of that if they had managed to somehow gain the upper hand. And even if they had not, they were all still going to fight to the death. It was going to be brutal either way. The bombings sucked, but in the end, I think it’s safe to say they saved lives on both sides.