Archive for November, 2013

I don’t see what’s so wrong with this.

November 30, 2013

From the letters to the editor in today’s Chronicle re: Hobby Lobby:

I thought we had achieved the quintessential absurdity with “corporations are people,” to be topped only by “money is speech.” But, no!

Our blessed federal court system has now reached new heights. A corporation with religious beliefs!…

What madness! Our top legal brains are destroying us with childish word games.

Childish word games? What the hell? It’s not childish word games; it’s acknowledging basic reality. Hobby Lobby is still a privately held company. So yes, forcing the company to go against its religious beliefs by providing birth control is indeed infringing on the owners’ First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion. The people not acknowledging any of this are only doing so because it goes against their particular political ideology. So who are the ones playing the “childish word games” here?

The perpetual lowering of the bar?

November 28, 2013

Sometimes I think that’s what’s going on in regards to people and what they expect of country music anymore, especially when I read things like this:

“The Outsiders”…no matter what genre it is, its something new and doesn’t say one word about a jacked up chromed out chevy cruisin down a dirt road with a cold one in hand and a 5 foot tall country barbie doll sittin in the passenger seat.

Yeah, and…? Is that all it takes to be seen as good, is not to be singing another song about the eternal summer tailgate party?

Look. I’m as heartily sick as everyone of what’s polluting the country genre. But why just settle for some other bad segment of what the mainstream is peddling? That’s like having a plate of toe jam put in front of you and saying, “Well, at least it’s not the turd that’s been put on my plate for the last couple of years.” As it was put elsewhere on Saving Country Music by the Triggerman himself:

“You don’t need to settle for Eric Church just because it doesn’t suck as bad as Luke Bryan. There’s an entire world of music much much better than this.”

Who? Well, for starters, Hayes Carll, Stoney LaRue, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Aaron Watson, and Kacey Musgraves, and that’s just for starters. (I am given to believe that Musgraves is actually meeting with success on the radio and at music stores, which is quite encouraging. Whether it’s an outlier or the beginning of a trend, we shall see…) I know it may well be too much to expect that radio start playing all those other people — but as as been said before, terrestrial radio isn’t the only option out there anymore, even if it’s not available to as many people as terrestrial radio is. The music’s out there, and people ought to go for it. Defending the likes of Eric Church just because he’s not singing another truck song strikes me as just giving up.

And another Fudd gets it wrong.

November 27, 2013

Colorado hunting guide Miles Fednic, on a threatened boycott of Colorado hunting due to their more stringent gun laws (h/t David Codrea):

To boycott a private company making money is one thing, but to boycott an entire state where all the money is going to the division of wildlife and parks, it’s a whole different deal. It doesn’t help anything to take money away from wildlife. The government is still going to run, with hunters or without us.

Yeah, that’s the spirit, isn’t it? Just like Hillary said, “What difference does it make?”

I’m going to guess Mr. Fednic didn’t study economics in high school or college. After all, when hunters come to Colorado to hunt, they spend more money than just what they fork over for hunting licenses. Food, fuel, lodging…that’s a lot of money coming into the Colorado economy. How much is anyone’s guess, but to say that “all the money is going to wildlife and parks” displays a profound ignorance of what’s going on. Not only that, but the general attitude  Mr. Fednic seems to be displaying here is rather reprehensible. It’s as if he doesn’t even care that his fellow Colorado gun owners are getting screwed with the help of out-of-state money so long as some of that money keeps coming in to him and his people. I am reminded again of the words of the Geek With A .45:

“If you own a duck gun or a deer rifle, and see nothing wrong with the ‘Assault Weapons Ban’, I remind you that the Second Amendment is of sober and serious purpose that is not about your trivial right to entertain yourself with sports shooting.

“When they come for your duck gun, my battle rifle and I won’t be there to help you, because at that point, I either won’t have a battle rifle, or it’s shards will have been buried with me.”

“And if that came to pass because you were sitting on your ass, you won’t deserve any help either.”

The apathy that David Codrea often points out is disheartening indeed, but it’s downright infuriating when people like Miles Fednic sit on their asses deliberately to protect their own financial interests.

Monday music musings, 25.11.13

November 25, 2013

Attn. KJ97: If you’re going to talk about the “good music” you play, you really don’t want to follow such a claim with Carrie Underwood, let alone “Good Girl.”

(I went back to KKYX and was promptly rewarded with the Statler Brothers’ “Hello, Mary Lou” and Emmylou Harris’ “Two More Bottles of Wine” back-to-back. WIN!)

Sabra, on Darius Rucker’s alleged desire to play Real Country Music:

Unless Darius Rucker hired MC Hammer to be his financial planner, he ought to have enough money from the Hootie days to do whatever the heck he wants to now. But I’ve listened to a couple of his albums on Spotify and even the filler is generic pap. He’s not even up to Dierks Bentley’s level.

And that’s really saying a LOT, too, because Dierks Bentley lost the plot a long time ago, about the time his third album was released. It’s a real shame, too, because his first two albums were really good. I don’t know what happened to him.

Speaking of folks who went downhill after their first album, Tracy Byrd is toward the top of that list, sadly. I’ve often said that while a lot of folks look upon the 1990s as some sort of golden age of country music, a lot of the stuff from that decade didn’t hold up that well. That thought came to mind as I heard “Keeper of the Stars” last night on the radio (KBUC 92.5, for you locals). As badly as I hate to say it, Tracy Byrd was yet another of those great voices that was saddled with subpar material. His first album was pretty good, but then it was off to novelty-song hell surrounded by maddeningly inconsistent album cuts.

And while I can deal with Brandy Clark being charitable with her assessment of bro-country “songwriters,” try as I may to believe it, I don’t think Dallas Davidson has a “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (or “Mama Tried” or “A Good Year For the Roses”) in him. If he did, you wouldn’t see him defending his vapid frat-boy bullshit so vehemently. The man is the very definition of “one-dimensional,” and he wears it like a badge of honor.

Not seeing what the big deal is here.

November 24, 2013

Who blamed whom for what, again?

Mark Halperin, editor-at-large for Time Magazine has announced the “real” culprit responsible for the the media’s failure to scrutinize ObamaCare since it was voted into law. Mitt Romney. Yes, Mitt Romney.

During an appearance on The O’Reilly Factory, Halperin was pressed by guest host Laura Ingraham to explain why the media failed to do its job on ObamaCare for more than three years.

To Halperin’s credit, he agreed with Ingraham, but astonishingly blamed Romney and the Republicans for the failure:

“Laura, there is no doubt that the press failed to scrutinize this program at the time of passage and during the context of the president’s reelection. Any reporter who would argue otherwise would be putting their head in the sand. As we write in “Double Down,” the problem for the Republicans in the reelection context was you nominated, Republicans nominated Mitt Romney, a guy who was not very well positioned, to say the least, to make the case against ObamaCare because he passed the healthcare plan in Massachusetts.”

Barack Obama knew he wasn’t going to run for reelection defending the program. Part of the flaws of the way the media works. If the candidates aren’t talking about it gets less coverage. No doubt a disservice was done to the country and to liberals.

Huh? Not only did Romney predict that millions of Americans would lose their healthcare plans due to ObamaCare, he was repeatedly criticized by the “mainstream” media for opposing it.

Wait, what? Wow. So much fail here that I hardly know where to begin.

Is this what Republicans and so-called “conservatives” are reduced to? As far as the bit about Romney’s inability to attack Obamacare goes, Halperin’s absolutely right. And even if millions of people would not have lost their insurance plans, even if Obamacare worked as “well” as Romneycare did, would that really have made it any more justifiable in the context of making the government smaller and less intrusive? Mark Halperin and TIME are bona-fide Democrat-progressive tools — don’t get me wrong — but I’m having a really hard time understanding why anyone is getting all worked up over this. I’ve read his comments over and over and still don’t get that he was “blaming” Romney for anything. Sure, the media could have done their jobs vis-a-vis Obamacare before any of us knew Mitt Romney was going to be the GOP nominee, but frankly, this is exactly what the GOP should have expected to happen when they anointed the man who put the healthcare plan in place that Obamacare was modeled after.

I am not often left speechless and near tears…

November 22, 2013

but, well…

Ahead of tonight’s all-star tribute to George Jones at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, there was this from Nashville Tennessean music writer Peter Cooper:

He also knew that there were public whispers and a few media barbs directed at Nancy Jones: Surely, she’s just keeping him out there to pad the bank accounts. She should let that poor old man live his life out in peace.

There’s another thing George Jones knew: The only way to peace was to get on a bus, travel to Bossier City, La., or Tunica, Miss., or Knoxville, Tenn., inhale some oxygen from a tank, get on a stage and give them everything that was left of him….

“I begged him to come off that road, and he would not,” Nancy Jones says. “He lowered all the keys and tried, really, really hard. I would say, ‘Just stop it,’ and he said, ‘In my mind, I think of all those old mamas that saved their money for me, and I was a no-show.’ In the last year, the fans never complained. They knew he was weak, and they knew he was leaving. He just wanted to prove he loved them. He’d say, ‘Even if I can’t sing that good anymore, I’ve got to make up for what I did.’ ”

I can barely read those words even now.  There are people who would probably say that George Jones was just a singer, and that what he did was just music, but it wasn’t. It was more than that, so very much more. And, well…you know, I could try to explain why it was more, and why that left the impression on me that it did, but I just can’t. You either get it or you don’t.

Rest in peace, George. We all miss you terribly.

More great Texas music…

November 21, 2013

My birthday was a couple of weeks ago. I got a $100 Amazon gift card and spent it mostly on Texas country and old stuff, with the latest Dream Theater album, which I’d heard was also pretty good. Among other things, I got the latest from Aaron Watson, Stoney LaRue’s The Red Dirt Album, and Hayes Carll’s Trouble In Mind. I had heard most of the Hayes Carll album and it’s very good, but the first song I heard from it, “She Left Me For Jesus,” remains my favorite. I thought it was one of the most clever things I’d heard up to that point and still think that today. Have a listen.

Well, actually…

November 19, 2013

…yes. Yes, Professor Mary Margaret Penrose is anti-gun:

Much to her surprise, a Texas law professor’s statement that it’s time to consider replacing the Second Amendment has unleashed a storm of controversy….

Penrose, whose areas of concentration include constitutional law, said she supports a states’-rights approach to the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

States, not the federal government, should be able to decide who has guns and how those weapons should be used, she said.

“Not one place did I suggest there should be a gun ban,” Penrose said Monday by phone.

Really? Then why even bring up the issue at all, especially in light of the incorporation of the Second Amendment to apply to the states as well as the federal government? After all, gun bans were the catalysts for both D.C. v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago. In that light, if you’re going to say that the Second Amendment should be revised in favor of a “states’ rights” approach, that’s pretty much a de facto admission that you’re in favor of a gun ban at least on some level. It’s not that hard to figure out.

Gah, Dean, say one thing and stick to it!

November 18, 2013

Dean Dillon, earlier this month:

I just think we’ve been led down this wrong road for the last two or three years of music and it has hurt us. And it’s been counterproductive, it’s been detrimental.

Dean Dillon, earlier this week:

I hear a lot of disgruntlement going on with what’s going on in country music in today’s world…There’s a box. And there’s some cowboys out there kicking the sides down on it right now. And stretching the boundaries. And pushing the limits. And putting new twists and turns on it. And they go out there and they play every night to these thousands and thousands of people. And they sing their songs to their generation. And that’s what it’s all about.

Cowboys? Really? I think the great George Strait would probably take offense to that.

Seriously, though, why couldn’t Dillon stand by what he said as opposed to seemingly backtracking on it? After all, this right here is exactly what he was talking about:

Around midway through its headlining set at the Best Buy Theater on Thursday night, Florida Georgia Line brought a couple of colleagues on stage — the country rapper Colt Ford and the songwriter Russell Dickerson — for a medley of influential songs.

They started out with one that perhaps only dedicated listeners would appreciate, Lil Troy’s Houston-rap hit “Wanna Be a Baller.” Then it was Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s “Thrift Shop,” a cheap ploy to snare the casual listener. After that, TLC’s “No Scrubs,” 50 Cent’s “In da Club,” Juvenile’s song about derrières with an unprintable name, and Kanye West’s “Gold Digger.” After that, Mr. Ford rewrote Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” as a country song, and everyone rapped along.

I don’t understand what’s so wrong with calling this sort of thing out as bad for country music. Dillon’s track record pretty much gives him license to say what he pleases about where country music is going. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it’s the duty of people like Dillon to call these hacks out who are hijacking the genre. People like him built country music, and people like those  hacks that make up Florida-Georgia Line are destroying it. I am aware there is an unhealthy amount of Nashville politics at play here, but if TPTB at organizations like BMI don’t like what he was saying, then frankly that makes them part of the problem. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — if people don’t want to get called out for writing crappy music, then maybe they should stop writing crappy music. Let’s see them make a 30-year career out of writing songs like “Marina Del Rey,” “The Chair,” or “Tennessee Whiskey.” Until then they can take their hurt feelings and blow it out their asses.

(h/t Country California)

Sigh. Here we go again.

November 17, 2013

Tracy Lawrence:

The debate over pop country vs. traditional country on the radio never ends, and Tracy Lawrence says things always are going to evolve.

“You might not always like the direction of it, but people’s tastes change,” Lawrence told last week.

“We’re becoming a more world format, and we’re getting people on the international stage that are making noise out there,” he told, while mentioning Taylor Swift’s tours abroad. “We’re one of the most powerful formats on Earth. It’s amazing that what started off as bluegrass, country-based with a little bit of rock is evolving to what it is now.”

Lawrence is evolving, too, after 18 No. 1 singles and slipping from the grace of radio programmers….

Because if we’re going to listen to anyone on how country music should “evolve,” it’s going to be someone who had his last hit record seven years ago, right? And I really don’t understand where Taylor Swift comes in here. As I heard it observed before, she was a tween pop star at her peak — with the ginormous sales numbers that come with that, of course — and to hear people who know better than me say it, she is starting to get away from that into a more general pop direction anyway. Sure, she started out as a country singer, but like certain people before her she used it merely as a stepping stone to bigger and “better” things.

And why do people who talk about “evolution” in country music always talk about it in terms of artists “evolving” away from traditional country music and letting other genres of music not just mesh with the genre, but completely take over it, completely disassociating the music from the elements that gave it a distinct, unique identity?

“Footprints on the Moon,” the debut single from the new album, is a love song with a catchy country pop melody and lyrics to match.

You know, I could avoid the obvious comment here about Lawrence selling out, but it deserves to be pointed out. I actually listened to the song, hoping against hope that it wouldn’t be yet more cliched pop-country bullshit, but it was — with the cherry on top being the producer(s) auto-tuning the shit out of his voice.

Wait. That’s not quite right.

I tried to listen to the song. But I only made it about 45 seconds in before I couldn’t take anymore. Such a shame that the guy who sang great songs like “Sticks and Stones” and “Paint Me A Birmingham” reduced himself to this.

And to what end? Does he really think he’s going to have his career resurrected with this pile of cliches? As bad as the reality sucks, country music is a young man’s game anymore, to the point that the biggest reason George Strait scored a No. 1 hit with “Give It All We Got Tonight” was his record label’s promotional campaign for it. You also see how things have gone for Alan Jackson anymore.

And yet, you don’t see either of those artists trying to “reinvent” themselves for an infinitesimally small chance at a few more dollars as Lawrence is. I wonder why that is?