A Blast From The Not-Too-Distant Past: The Murder On Music Row Controversy

If you will, indulge me this one-time rambling.
Driving home from work tonight, I heard this not-so-old tune from George Strait and Alan Jackson:

Nobody saw him running, from Sixteenth Avenue
They never found a fingerprint, or the weapon that was used
But someone killed country music, cut out its heart and soul
They got away with murder, down on Music Row

The almighty dollar, and the lust for worldwide fame
Slowly killed tradition, and for that, someone should hang
They all say “Not Guilty!”, but the evidence will show
That murder was committed down on Music Row

For the steel guitars no longer cry, and fiddles barely play
But drums and rock ‘n’ roll guitars are mixed up in your face
Ol’ Hank wouldn’t have a chance on today’s radio
Since they committed murder down on Music Row

They thought no one would miss it once it was dead and gone
They said no one would buy them ol’ drinkin’ and cheatin’ songs
Well there ain’t no justice in it, and the hard facts are cold
Murder’s been committed down on Music Row

For the steel guitars no longer cry, and you can’t hear fiddles play
With drums and rock ‘n’ roll guitars mixed right up in your face
Why the Hag wouldn’t have a chance on today’s radio
Since they committed murder down on Music Row

Why they even tell the Possum to pack up and go back home
There’s been an awful murder down on music row

It was right about this time seven years ago the controversy was raging in the country music community, as pop-masquerading-as-country singers like Tim McGraw, Martina McBride and Shania Twain were ruling the country music airwaves, and Rascal Flatts, country’s answer to N-Sync, was just getting started. Larry Cordle and Larry Shell’s biting commentary on the state of modern country music had started making the rounds late in 1999 and causing quite a stir in some corners. I remember I was thrilled when I found out Alan and George were going to record this song and even more so when I actually heard it, as I thought it was a drop-dead perfect indictment of modern country music, both lyrically and instrumentally. Tim McGraw, aka Mr. Faith Hill was the most outspoken about the song, as I recall him saying “anyone who has a problem with crossover can go jump in the lake.” I thought that was quite asinine of him, considering he was touring with George Strait at the time, and while I did and do like a lot of his music, that just jumped all over me. I thought even less of him as he got the nerve to actually record an answer song of sorts, “Things Change.” Granted, he had a right to speak his mind, but still I just didn’t like it. I remember thinking at the time that he was more or less biting the hand that fed him, with those comments and the recording of that song. He wasn’t hurting for money, but I have no doubt that the exposure he got on the George Strait festival tour surely didn’t hurt him any either. And I also remember being ecstatic when I found out Alan Jackson was going to be taking Tim’s slot on the festival tour in 2001, in the wake of the infamous horse incident in Buffalo, New York the weekend before the 2000 tour’s June finale in Texas. That seems like several lifetimes ago now…and things have indeed changed the last seven years, with people like Craig Morgan, Dierks Bentley and Josh Turner taking country back to its more traditional sounds. It’ll be interesting to see how things are in the coming years, but I for one hope to never again see the likes of Shania Twain in country music. We’ll see…



2 Responses to “A Blast From The Not-Too-Distant Past: The Murder On Music Row Controversy”

  1. joe w. acton Says:

    When kenny rodgers started singing pop tunes as country i knew country was in trouble.add in garth brooks and billy ray cyrius country music was in a downward spiral. i hate billy ray cyrius!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Noemi Christina Ferguson Says:

    of course with light hip hop invading county radio this might be a moot point

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