On legends, awards and success…

or, Maybe I have a mild case of cognitive dissonance too…
Being a fan of a lot of non-mainstream artists, I’ll admit I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t really put much if any stock in awards shows anymore. Not that I ever really did, but there was a time that I got a little ticked if my favorites didn’t win. That changed after I started getting into the Texas music scene and discovered a lot of great music from artists who in all likelihood won’t ever make it to the stage at the CMAs, ACMs, Grammys or what-have-you. Since then I’ve pretty much gotten to the point that I go, “another awards show, yawn, that’s nice…” I’d run into people here and there who would point to those awards as some sort of justification for liking the artists who won them — as if those awards made said artists better than all the others — and I’d just have to roll my eyes.
But, as Ron White might say, I told you all that to tell you this. Even with that lengthy disclaimer, I must admit it was still quite gratifying to see the great George Strait take home the CMA Album of the Year award last night for Troubadour. A lot of artists get less and less attention as time goes on, both on the radio and in the record stores. But the Strait man carries on, still putting out music that runs neck-and-neck with what he was doing when he was the hottest thing in Nashville in the mid-to-late-’80s. And it still gets played, still gets bought, and still gets recognized. It’d still be good even if he didn’t win any awards, but I do think it’s great that Strait can still do that well and get that recognition after almost 30 years on the scene — still doing pretty much the same style of music that he did back then, to boot.
Compare that to Reba McEntire, who strayed far from the neo-traditionalist style she started out with and pretty much peaked out artistically and commercially in the late ’90s. As bad as it sounds, I got a little bit of gratification from that too. “You see, that’s what happens when you get away from your roots…” I know that’s not what always happens, but still I thought Reba’s early stuff was far, far better than the lion’s share of her later work.

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