Wednesday music musings, 6.12.17

December 6, 2017

Browsing the Billboard country albums chart yesterday, and what do I see but this…

Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 1.32.50 PM

Wait, what? No. 5, really?

Yes, I know. I have said before that the Eagles, at least their first couple of albums, were more country than a lot of what passes for such in the mainstream anymore, as damning with faint praise as that might be. And make no mistake, Hotel California is a fine rock album, with several of my favorite Eagles songs on it. But Hotel California is not a country music record. It was not a country music record in 1975, and it is not a country music record now. And Don Henley himself would likely tell you as much, considering that he went on record 15 years ago as apologizing for the Eagles’ influence on country music:

“What they call ‘young country,’ unfortunately, is an offshoot of what we used to do. It’s our fault. I’m so sorry. I apologize to the entire universe.”

Still more country than Sam Hunt, though…

===

Speaking of genres, there was this via Farce the Music, from carpetbagger piece of shit Robert Estell, better known as Bobby Bones:

Screen Shot 2017-12-06 at 7.08.52 PM

Really now? Those are some big words coming from a dude who might well not have a job, or at least might well have a much smaller bully pulpit, this time next year. (Google “iHeartRadio going concern” for some interesting light reading.)

And even if he does still have a job by this time next year, that’s still not going to make “country” radio any more relevant to a lot of people. Sure, it’s still the only game in town for a lot of people, but there’s still the matter of all those folks discussed in this space before who have No. 1 debuts on the album sales charts and have sold hundreds of thousands of copies of said albums, all without the benefit of country radio airplay. OF course, there’s the matter of the charts being compromised all to hell as in the item above, but the sales are what they are.

===

For the life of me I can’t find it now, but there was this graphic going round with a text message with the following text:

“Hey, you wanna go see Florida-Georgia Line?”

“You spelled George Strait wrong.”

And there was this comment in response:

“I’ll take Florida Georgia Line. They at least do concerts for ‘the little people’. I can’t afford to fly somewhere and pay for a ticket for George Strait.”

Yup, because George Strait totally didn’t burn up the road for almost 40 years “do(ing) concerts for ‘the little people.'” I mean, really, if you didn’t go see Strait during that time I feel pretty comfortable saying it’s your own fault.

Advertisements

Saturday music musings, 11.11.17

November 11, 2017

Apparently Washington Post music critic Chris Richards is hellbound and determined to throw every bit of his credibility away. First it was “Sam Hunt…(is) far and away country’s most forward-thinking stylist, and he deserves to be recognized as such,” and then it was, “Maren Morris…is a straight-talking, forward-thinking fountain of dash, and she’s funneling it into some great country music.”

And now, there’s this, via Saving Country Music:

not one artist found the courage to say a single word about gun control after 58 fans were shot dead at a country music festival in Las Vegas last month….today’s country stars are singing about an apolitical no-place that doesn’t actually exist.

Apolitical no place that doesn’t actually exist. Apparently this dude has never heard, for example, anything from Jason Boland’s latest album, or the Turnpike Troubadours’ “1968” or “Southeastern Son,” or Corb Lund’s “Gettin’ Down on the Mountain,” the title track to the Jason Eady album When The Money’s All Gone, or…you get the idea. Now, you could very well make the argument that what Chris Richards says is true, but we all know that he’s making this argument for entirely the wrong reasons. Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that 2010s country music (the mainstream component of it, at least) is a near-total wasteland, from the whole bro-country business to Kelsea Ballerini, Thomas Rhett, Jerrod Niemann, Chris Lane, Walker Hayes, and, yes, Sam Hunt and Maren Morris. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that someone like Chris Richards would say something like this under these circumstances, but it just rings so incredibly hollow and hypocritical. Small wonder so many people have lost faith in the media, with people like him writing for ostensibly credible and respected outlets.

===

Well, this was rather disappointing…

IMG_2063

Aaron Watson’s a good, good guy from everything I can tell, but to be frank, as an artist, to see him associate with somebody like Granger Smith is rather unsettling. I mean, Watson’s no Jason Boland even on his best day, but he’s still way the hell ahead of Granger Smith for the most part.

But with this latest album, I gotta admit, I wonder…

===

Trigger posted a fine review of my favorite Lee Ann Womack album. I heard the first single, “I May Hate Myself In the Morning,” and knew I had to have the album; it was a Day One buy for me, and when I heard the twin-fiddle opening of the title track, I knew I was in for something really special. Killer album from start to finish. If I had to pick a least favorite track it’d probably be “What I Miss About Heaven,” but I still don’t ever skip it. I also really liked her covers of “Waitin’ for the Sun to Shine”…

and “Just Someone I Used To Know.”

The latter, of course, was a hidden track; I remember hearing the end of “Psalm 151” and the cd still going, wondering what was next, and BAM! More twin fiddles. “Oh, I know this song!” Gorgeous, gorgeous ending to a gorgeous album. Lee Ann has done great stuff since, but There’s More Where That Came From remains her masterpiece.

On the Texas church shooter…

November 6, 2017

…who shall not be named here…

Apparently he was a violent little punk who should still have been in jail:

According to case records, Kelley assaulted his then-wife and her baby, his stepchild.

The baby suffered a fractured skull in the assault, prosecutors said.

But we need more gun control. You know what people advocating more gun control are advocating here? They’re advocating for more laws to be enforced by a government that couldn’t even be bothered to keep people in jail for cracking a baby’s skull.

More gun control, huh?

Yeah.

Pull the other one. It’s got bells on it.

Friday music musings, 3.11.17

November 3, 2017

When Lee Ann Womack is right…she is right:

“I’m a country singer,” Womack said proudly when discussing her new music with Chris Shifflett recently on his Walking The Floor podcast. “There’s no doubt about that, and that’s what I always aspired to be. It’s odd for me, because real country has sort of been pushed out. . .What I call myself is a real country singer, and [most of] what you hear on country radio right now is NOT real country.

Not really much can be said in addition to that…well, maybe for this.

I saw some of the commenters at SCM bashing Womack for this statement, saying that it was hypocritical of her to bash pop country after having made her money playing it for so long. Which I might agree with, but for the fact that’s predicated on the assumption that pop country has always sucked, and quite frankly that’s a load of shit. I mean, I know there are people who think it has, and they’re entitled to that opinion, but I’ll never understand it. I have heard people, straight-faced and stone sober, compare FGL to the Dixie Chicks, and I was like, “really?” I have said it before and will say it again: Pop country isn’t bad by default; it just used to be a whole lot better, even good.

What I thought really interesting, though, were Lee Ann’s comments on The Song That Shall Not Be Named:

“I was the girl who was writing and singing ‘Am I the Only Thing That You’ve Done Wrong’ and ‘Never Again, Again’ – these really hardcore country songs,” she told Chris Shifflett. “Then all of a sudden, I had this positive message, and I had my kids in the video, and I think that people just thought that I was something that maybe I wasn’t….

Well then. I mean, it’s one thing when a no-name blowhard like me says that song was not the best representation of who LAW is as an artist, but when she all but comes out and says it outright herself (albeit in not so many words), that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. I am well aware that we are almost 20 years removed from that, but I was thinking the same thing back then too, especially after I heard “Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good” and “Does My Ring Burn Your Finger.” One never knows, but I like to think she was thinking it back then, too.

===

I saw this come off the wires earlier today…

The media guidelines were clear: Don’t ask questions about the Las Vegas massacre, gun rights, politics or “topics of the like” at the CMAs next week.

The backlash was swift: Seriously?

The Country Music Association apologized on Friday and said it lifted those restrictions for its awards show next Wednesday.

…and hand to God, the first thing I thought was, “Ohhh, PLEASE let Florida-Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, or Thomas Rhett be interviewed on the red carpet at the CMAs on national TV and talk about how we need more gun control laws. That would be like manna from heaven. Absolute best late birthday present EVER.”

(I turn 40 on Sunday.)

===

Sabra and I went to see Corb Lund a couple of weeks ago at Sam’s Burger Joint…

…and WOW, was it great. It was an acoustic show, and I was a bit skittish about it at first, because I am not normally that big on just acoustic performances as opposed to full band shows, but pretty much all of Corb Lund’s stuff lends itself very well to that. Of course it helps that he can actually play the guitar and does songs about more than just parties on tailgates and whatnot. (I mean, really, can you picture Luke Bryan taking his dancing chicken act into that environment?) It is one of the true tests of an artist, to see if they can pull off their craft with just a guitar, and Corb Lund passed it with flying colors.

He didn’t play “Student Visas,” my favorite song from him, but he did play “Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier!” and that was more than good enough. “Time To Switch to Whiskey” was a lot of fun too. Funny story he told about that: he was playing Odessa one time, and he sang that song, and somebody came up and told him what a great cover of the Kyle Bennett Band song he did. (Lund was the one who wrote and originally recorded the song; the Kyle Bennett Band recorded it a few years later.)

We shall HAPPILY go see him if and when he comes back, full band or not.

So yeah, I am still here…

October 21, 2017

Just been a lot going on. Specifically, WE CLOSED ON A HOUSE!

The actual closing date was September 29, but as I put it elsewhere, it’d been in the works for a while. We have a pretty big family, but the rents for something like a 4-bedroom house were…out of the question, let’s just put it like that. So, Sabra’s best friend Mark and his husband built a house last year and he made it his mission to get us into a house also. Mark put us into contact with a friend of his who works at Gold Financial, and the process was on…

ZOMG. ALL THE DOCUMENTATION. Some of it I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to get because of my work’s HR policies. And every time I thought I had gotten everything, they would come back and say, “we need this, this, and this.” I do understand why it’s that way, but to me that was probably the most exhausting part of it all.

That’s not to say finding a house itself wasn’t a real pain in the ass though. We looked at several houses in different parts of the city before making an offer on one back in March, on the city’s east side just off Roland Road & Rigsby Avenue…

…and then the house inspection came back. Foundation issues, wiring, and other stuff. It was so bad that the inspector offered to refund our money or hold it for another inspection. So, back to square one it was.

(Sucked too, because we could literally have WALKED to Whataburger from that house.)

So from there, stealing from Sabra:

Mark has a friend, Kimberly, who works for the city. She is administering a program with a certain local developer who is buying and renovating houses on the East Side. They had a house that needed to go to a low income family, the developer had no idea how to market it, but Mark had made sure everyone knew we were looking. So we got referred.
The developer was nice enough to take my input on the house. We bonded over the awesome tile in the bathrooms and the wood paneling in the family room. A LOT of work needed to be done–plumbing, wiring, roofing, etc. So it was a long wait. But it enabled Erik to build up some credit, and we worked with the city for down payment assistance.

So, to make a long story a little shorter:

We got all the docs, threw all the money, and signed all the papers, and we now have what might as well be a brand-freaking-new house tailor-made for us. And we got a screaming good deal on it in several different ways. I am so happy I could scream. Once upon a time I thought I’d be making $10 an hour and that we’d be renting until we croaked.

I am ever so thankful. God is good.

Now, back to your scheduled bitching commentary…

This is ghastly.

September 24, 2017

An article from the Huffington Post, whose author — miracle of miracles! — seems to be just as aghast about this as I am:

 Handicapped children cost money, so parents: abort or face a fine.’

Quoted Dr. Stefan Paas on twitter. ‘We haven’t come this close to Nazi before.’ The quote was taken from a letter published in a National newspaper. It stated that the freedom to birth disabled children should be limited by the ‘financial burden’ to society. Declining to abort, argues letter-writer Michael van der Lubbe, despite the availability of prenatal technology like Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT), should have financial consequences for parents. His letter followed a stream of articles in the media with suggestive titles as ‘Better of without Down’.

Well then. You know what this means, yes?

It means, kids, that if you choose not to kill your baby, and the Almighty State decrees that you should kill your baby, for whatever reason, some people (such as this Michael van der Lubbe creature) are perfectly okay with armed agents of said State breaking down your door and killing you deader than shit.

(And yes, I know. SLIPPERY SLOPE FALLACY RABBLERABBLERABBLE. But the fact is this — if the fine is not paid, and the citizen resists, at some point he or she WILL go down in a hail of State-supplied gunfire. That’s how the enforcement of every single law ends, whether people want to admit it or not.)

But PLEASE, TELL ME MORE ABOUT HOW DONALD TRUMP IS THE NAZI HERE.

Damn it.

September 10, 2017

I can’t explain exactly why, but this one hurts, worse than I thought it would, almost as bad as losing George Jones.

Country Music Hall of Famer Don Williams died Friday after a short illness. He was 78 years old.

Standing over 6 feet tall, with a smooth baritone and soft-spoken nature, Williams was known as the “Gentle Giant” of country music. He was a staple of country radio in the 1970s and ’80s, releasing 16 No. 1 songs between 1974 and 1985.

Don Williams once sang, “what’ll you do, with good ole boys like me?”

As I put it elsewhere, the more pressing question now is — what will we do without good ole boys like him?

Maybe that’s why it hits so hard: he was a simple and honest man, without an ounce of arrogance or pretension, if not the last of a dying breed, pretty close to it.

Paying it forward, for Mark.

September 4, 2017

People have helped us out when we were in dire straits, and so it is time to return the favor.

Mark L. Anderson is a good guy, a kind and generous soul…

who has lost everything practically at Ground Zero of Hurricane Harvey.

As one who has survived two hurricanes, I can vouch for the fact that pictures don’t really do this sort of thing justice. He has a PayPal link on his page; please donate what you can.

Harvey didn’t stop at the county line…

September 2, 2017

It looks like we’re seeing the same dynamic at work after Hurricane Harvey that we saw after Hurricane Katrina and, to a lesser extent, Hurricane Ike: big city gets most if not all of the attention while the smaller metros and towns get ignored.

Granted, it IS understandable. Major American city under water, tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people displaced, and all that not-so-good stuff. But the flooding and devastation didn’t stop at the Houston city limits, nor at the Harris County line. I saw a graphic that outlined the area that was affected, ironically enough just to show the size of the affected area…and it completely excluded the area east and northeast of Winnie.

DIb6SFcVwAAns0-

Interstate 10 just northeast of Winnie, Texas, in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Photo seen on Dade Phelan Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/DadePhelan/status/902683973696065536/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fnews%2Fdr-gridlock%2Fwp%2F2017%2F08%2F30%2Fharvey-turned-part-of-interstate-10-into-a-roaring-river-with-actual-waves%2F

For those who don’t know the geography of Texas, that’s the Beaumont-Port Arthur-Orange metropolitan area, aka the Golden Triangle, which (as defined by the Census Bureau) is home to just shy of 390,000 people. A pretty good bit of that area got flooded too…

21106547_10211580278521724_3934468633128594782_n

Ninth Avenue in Port Arthur, Texas, after Harvey. When I lived in Port Arthur, from August 2001 to February 2009, I lived less than a mile from where this photo was taken. Source: https://www.facebook.com/richard.hudson.718/posts/10211580283801856?pnref=story

…and while it’s not Houston, it’s not exactly insignificant either. They’re about to get even more water coming down both the already-swollen Neches and Sabine rivers with the impending releases of water from the Steinhagen and Toledo Bend reservoirs. And then there are the small towns all up and down the coast, from Liberty to Loyola Beach, that were affected to varying degrees, some catastrophically.I don’t know. I remember having much the same thoughts after Katrina, and Rita too. Maybe I just take it more personally this time because I could been right in the middle of this all had things been different. Maybe I just feel a special bond to that place and the people I knew when I was there, many of whom I keep in touch with here on Facebook. Since I left Texarkana, I’ve lived in several different places around Texas, and so far I lived in the Golden Triangle longer than I lived anywhere except for Texarkana.

(That won’t be true for much longer, though!)

Southeast Texas, a lot of us are thinking about and pulling for y’all, even if we’re not there.

Random hits, 28.8.17

August 28, 2017

FullSizeRender.jpg

My first thought on seeing this was “Singer of watered-down ‘country’ music shills for watered-down beer. Seems legit.”

Now that I think about it, though, that’s rather an unfair insult to Bud, because Bud is closer to actual beer than Thomas Rhett is to actual country music.

===

Just so everyone knows, we’re fine over here in San Antonio. Just got a little bit of wind and rain, and the power was out for about 45 minutes Saturday, but that was about it. I have friends down towards Rockport and Corpus, as well as over in Houston and the Golden Triangle, who of course aren’t faring so well, so keep them in your thoughts.