Just when you think you’ve heard everything…

October 31, 2019

…something new comes along and makes you rethink that.

I have long thought that real country music and heavy metal have a lot in common despite the radical difference in sound. They’re both gritty, real explorations of the human condition at their best. A buddy of mine made the observation that country & metal are like estranged cousins who meet at a family reunion & discover they have a lot in common. Which is an excellent way of putting it, if you really think about it.

You’ll remember some time ago that DevilDriver frontman Dez Fafara did a project with a lot of other metal guys where they recorded a lot of classic country songs. I listened to some of it here and there, and while it wasn’t quite my thing, I rather appreciated what they were trying to do. I thought it was the first of its kind…

…but apparently I was mistaken.

Screwing around on Spotify today, I saw a 2006 album from a dude named Jeff Walker called Welcome to Carcass Cuntry — Carcass, as in the English death metal band (Walker is that band’s bass player). Actually, what I saw was a song from that album on one of my Spotify daily mixes, a song called “You’re Still On My Mind.”

Wait, is that the song I think it is?

It sure as fuck was.

An old George Jones weeper that hardly anyone remembers anymore! Gotta admit, I thought that was pretty damn impressive. But that was far from the only thing. There were also a couple of Hank Sr. covers (“I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”) and Connie Smith’s “Once A Day.” (Connie freaking Smith! I NEVER would have seen that coming.) Gotta admit, those choices kinda blew my fuses. Seems like so many metalheads have more respect for country music than a lot of the people who allegedly sing it. Between Florida-Georgia Line name-dropping Hank and Jeff Walker singing actual Hank songs, I will take the latter any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Sunday music musings, 27.10.2019

October 27, 2019

Many years ago, when I was young and stupid, I would be nonplussed when my favorite artists, songs, albums, whatever, didn’t win certain awards. Then I discovered the Texas music scene and all the artists who wouldn’t ever win any of those awards, and I left that attitude behind and never looked back.

That being said, if you needed yet more proof that mainstream country music in the ’10s has been a shitshow without equal, here you go:

Luke Bryan Wins Inaugural ACM Album Of The Decade Award For ‘Crash My Party’

I suppose it could have been worse — after all, 2013 was also the year of FGL’s debut — but in a decade that brought us George Strait’s Here For A Good Time, Jason Isbell’s Something More Than Free, and Randy Rogers’ and Wade Bowen’s Hold My Beer, Vol. 1….well, frankly, I got nothin’.

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And then to top the ’10s off, there’s this:

But all of a sudden Hootie & the Blowfish—not just Darius Rucker—is signed to Universal Music Group’s country imprint in Nashville, is planning to release a new record on November 1st called Imperfect Circle, and just released a straight up pop rock Hootie & the Blowfish single called “Hold On” that has just become the “most added” song on COUNTRY radio, rocketing all the way to #30 on the charts upon its debut. That’s right, as we were all jamming out to the new Cody Jinks records, Hootie & the Blowfish has officially become a country music group with a major label deal, full support from country radio, and all the other rights and privileges of a mainstream country music act thereof.

Look, I know that Reba McEntire said a few years ago that ’70s rock was country now, and that she was at best neutral about it, but frankly, I think Dale Watson’s take on it was a lot more accurate. And that phenomenon kinda scares me, really. What’s ’20s country going to sound like? If the progression holds, it’s gonna be fucking Poison and Motley Crue. (Not Metallica or Iron Maiden, because that stuff’s too songwriterly.) And in the ’30s…well, the less said the better.

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For longer than I am willing to admit, I thought Free was “that band that did ‘All Right Now,’ that band that Paul Rodgers fronted before Bad Company.”

They had more songs than that — six albums’ worth, even. A lot of those songs were really good, too. I don’t know what I’d count as the bigger crime against music, the fact that Free is mainly known for that one song or the fact that so few people know Fleetwood Mac as it existed before Lindsey Buckingham & Stevie Nicks.

“So this is how liberty dies…”

September 15, 2019

…or, What conversation?

“O’Rourke promises he will ‘bring everyone in America into the conversation— Republicans, Democrats, gun-owners, and non-gun-owners alike.’ But if a gun owner says he’d prefer to keep his property rather than surrender it to the federal government, that’s too bad.”

That’s about right. Bob has made it quite plain he doesn’t give a shit about the gun owners’ side of all this. Which in its own way is admirable, because neither do any of the other Democrats running. Bob was just the one to say it out loud.

Of course, not only does his bold declaration expose the “no one wants to take your guns” as the foul and malicious lie that it has always been, but it also goes a long way towards killing certain other measures, i.e., universal background checks for ALL firearms sales.

How is that, you ask?

Well, think about it. How is the government going to know whether the law is being obeyed, i.e., whether a given weapon was sold with or without a background check? Registration, that’s how. And what do we always say?

“Registration leads to confiscation.”

To which liberals have always said, “No one wants to take your guns, you paranoid wing nuts!”

And Bob has come out here and said, in effect, “uh, yeah we do.”

To thunderous applause, even.

Come on, Jason, really?

September 10, 2019

I do love Jason Isbell, but this is just next-level stupid, and considering all his Twitter rantings on gun control, that’s really saying something:

“Women are practically ghosts on country radio too, so it’s not hard to understand why female artists like (Maren) Morris, who had massive crossover success with the Zedd collaboration ‘The Middle,’ might pull away from the genre and gravitate to more welcoming formats like pop and Americana. ‘The country purists online, they’re the worst,’ Isbell says shortly after rolling up a pant leg to show off his ‘Highwomen’ tattoo, as well as some swell printed socks. ‘If you look at the country radio charts, and there is one woman every three weeks in the Top 20, what’s going to encourage women to try to make music in that direction?’

Wow, dude, way to make fans of more traditional country music fans not want to give the Highwomen album a chance. I mean, it’s not the revolutionary, world-beating stuff some people are claiming it to be, but this online country purist heard it and thought it was actually pretty good. I don’t intend to get it just yet, because I have other stuff I’d like to get first, but I do hope it does well so as to encourage more music like it.

Also, Willie Nelson would like a word with those of you who think “If She Ever Leaves Me” was the first gay country song.

Heroes? Negative, Ghostrider.

August 26, 2019

…or, if you needed yet more proof that Houston police chief Art Acevedo is still a flaming pile of shit, here you go:

“I still think they’re heroes,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo says of the narcotics officers who shot and killed Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas during a fraudulent drug raid at their Harding Street home on January 28. At a press conference Friday, Acevedo said Gerald Goines, the officer who instigated the raid by falsely claiming that a confidential informant had bought heroin from Tuttle at the house the day before, and Steven Bryant, who bolstered Goines’ cover story, had “dishonored” their badges and the Houston Police Department (HPD). But Acevedo insisted that the other officers who participated in the raid had “acted in good faith” and killed the couple in self-defense.

I do not mean necessarily to bash the other cops involved here. They may well have acted in good faith. They were put in a bad position by their superiors, and said superiors should fry for their actions. But calling them heroes is just a bridge too far for me. And “acted in self-defense”? Ah, no, Chief. People without badges don’t get to play that card when they’re the ones initiating the confrontation, and people with badges shouldn’t get to do it either, particularly in a situation like this.

Wednesday political musings, 21.08.2019

August 21, 2019

Quote from elsewhere:

“The gun industry and the gun lobby are the problem. They won’t even let us do common sense reforms.”

No. NO SIR. If you’re gonna point the finger at anyone for pro-gunners’ refusing to compromise anymore, you need to be pointing the finger at Dianne Feinstein for giving away the endgame on 60 Minutes right after the 1994 “assault weapons” ban was passed.

For anyone who might have forgotten:

“If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them — Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them all in — I would have done it.”

Also, while I say this specifically in the context of more gun control, it actually is more universal than that:

“Polls reflect that the public wants tighter gun control.”

Yeah, that and a five-spot will get you a sausage-and-egg taco and a cup of coffee at any Bill Miller’s here in San Antonio before 10:30 AM. All this supposed “silent majority” allegedly in favor of more gun laws has had to do since 1994 is vote in people who will pass those gun laws, but they have yet to get off their asses and do it, so they obviously don’t want it bad enough, if they want it at all, which at this point I frankly just do not believe. And if they don’t want it badly enough to vote for politicians who will vote for it, well, that has the exact effect of not wanting it at all.

Which, of course, brings us back to polls in general. How many polls, to cite perhaps the most infamous recent example, said Hillary Clinton was going to lay a 1984-level ass-whipping on Donald Trump in the 2016 election right up until she didn’t?

And I am really, really getting tired of the whole “b-b-b-but muh tanks and drones” when it comes to stopping tyranny with rifles. It’s as if no one has any concept of how guerrilla warfare works. That drone, just to take one example, is not going to be of much use if the pilot gets shot in his driveway, or the mechanic has his throat slit in some seedy Vegas strip joint, or the armorer has his morning coffee laced with cyanide.

Tuesday music musings, 20.08.19

August 20, 2019

I am not really big on the whole streaming music bit. I much prefer to own music as opposed to just renting it or whatever. I also believe that artists should be fairly compensated for their work, and the streaming model in general presents some huge issues with that.

That said, I got a cool new job, one that allows us to listen to Spotify while we work. Most of my burgeoning library comprises stuff I’ve already bought, because I am weird like that, but I have been sampling a pretty good bit of stuff that I have ended up buying.

We’ll talk about the other stuff later, but right now let’s talk about Gary P. Nunn. We went and bought What I Like About Texas: Greatest Hits a few years back and have played it a LOT since then…

…but, of course, you see exactly where I’m going with this.

That album featured five songs from 1993’s Totally Guacamole. The other day I was browsing the GPN albums one day and clicked on that album, and what caught my eye right away was one of the other seven songs, a tune called “You Can’t Get the Hell out of Texas.” I thought, huh, that title sounds familiar. I knew that song from way back, sort of. Back when 99.5 the Wolf in Dallas was a pretty good station and had Justin Frazell doing the traffic reports in a chopper in the skies over D-FW, they’d play a George Jones song with that title every Friday afternoon at 5:00.

I saw that title on the Gary P. Nunn album and thought, huh, I wonder if that’s the same song. Suuuurrrre enough….

Gotta say, I take a backseat to no one when it comes to my love for George Jones, but with that doghouse bass and Floyd Domino cutting loose on the piano…Lord, but that is top-shelf stuff.

I do have to say this next song kinda rubbed me the wrong way at first. Lord knows I don’t subscribe to the “’90s country is best country” thing, but I did and do think most of the folks that were called out in that song were legit, especially Rodney Crowell (I mean, shit, anyone who’s an actual country fan KNOWS that man was SO MUCH MORE than Diamonds & Dirt)….

…but then I realized it does come off as tongue-in-cheek, and taken in that context it is actually pretty funny.

And then there was “I Don’t Live Here Anymore.” For years, I only knew this version…

…and thought, “Huh, I wonder if this is the same song. Sure enough…

I really, really loved the Todd Fritsch version of this song back in the late 2000s, and it’s still pretty good, but I gotta go with Gary P. here, too. He has this tear in his voice that just makes the whole thing. I did not know that song was written by Brian Burns! Not that that surprises me; I have always thought he was a fine songwriter in addition to a great singer.

But this next song….oh my dear sweet Lord, I think this is my new favorite Gary P. Nunn song.

Look, just admit it. You heard that and got the big ole stupid grin on your face, didn’t you? (Credit Flaco Jimenez on the accordion for that.) TELL ME that is not the coolest, most South Texas thing you have ever heard in your life. Good, good stuff.

Thursday music musings, 15.08.19

August 15, 2019

I am by no means just now figuring this out…

…but Sabaton takes Iron Maiden’s game and runs with it very, very well. Swedish power metal songs all about war? I mean, how can you not love that?

This song is particularly great, about this incident from World War II:

I bought Adam Makos’ book A Higher Call some time ago but have yet to read it. That’s gonna be rectified this weekend…

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I had this meme cross my Facebook feed earlier today…

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…and really, all I could say was, Yep.

I’ve said all this before, albeit in different words, but it bears repeating: People may dismiss it as old farts bitching, but it ought to be obvious to anyone with functioning brain cells that Nashville for some time has been targeting people who think country music didn’t exist before 2010. They barely know George Strait, let alone the people who influenced him, and never mind the likes of, say, Gram Parsons, Guy Clark, or Billy Joe Shaver.

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I am not just now figuring this out either, but damn. I remember hearing Rascal Flatts back in the day and thinking they were pretty awful…but Dan + Shay make Rascal Flatts sound like Hank Thompson in comparison.

(That’s not to say that RF actually sounds good now, mind you. Think of it as stomach virus vs. stomach cancer. They both suck. One just sucks a whole lot less, comparatively speaking.)

Random hit, 08.07.2019

July 8, 2019

It bugs the shit out of me that they’re making such a big deal out of Lil Nas X when we have folks like Charley Crockett singing actual country music. God damn but this is gorgeous.

Something to remember today.

May 27, 2019

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.