Random musings, 12.1.15

Well, of course Wendy Davis would come out AFTER the election and say she wasn’t in support of open carry. I am not the least bit surprised, but I surely didn’t expect her to be so brutally honest about it:

There is one thing that I would do differently in that campaign, and it relates to the position that I took on open carry. I made a quick decision on that with a very short conversation with my team and it wasn’t really in keeping with what I think is the correct position on that issue.

In a way you gotta admire that, I guess, but it’s worth asking if we would ever really want a governor who would so blatantly pander to a certain demographic to get elected, especially since it arguably wouldn’t have helped her to any significant degree considering her ignominious defeat. I realize I do speak with the benefit of hindsight here, but it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see there were so many issues with Wendy Davis running that she never could have won.


Comment from Saving Country Music, about Garth Brooks taking a fall on stage as he brought back his elaborate stage shows from the 1990s:

Have modern American audiences become so accustomed to spectacle and gimmick that an evening of good music performed with passion isn’t enough?

I often asked myself the same question back in the 1990s when everyone was raving about the same spectacle. I always found it quite telling that George Strait was pretty much the polar opposite of Garth Brooks on stage yet got more or less the identical reaction. I don’t know how much overlap there was between Brooks’ and Strait’s fanbases back then, but I am sure there was quite a bit. I never quite understood not just letting the music speak for itself…


I bet you never thought you’d see the day I’d agree with Eric Church on anything (Lord knows I didn’t), but he’s pretty much right on here:

I’m so focused on making an album. I don’t care that technology tells us that albums are a thing of the past. That is b.s. They are more valuable now than they’ve ever been to the future of music, to the health of music. Because going forward, there’s no way we end up having artists unless we go back to the album format, the entire body of work.

I liken it to when you sit down to read a book. You don’t read one chapter. You read the whole book. It’s about every chapter. That’s how you understand what the book’s about, that’s how you become a fan of the book.
Same thing with music. You can’t hear one song, you can’t get a 99-second sound bite, and understand the artist, or be a fan of the artist, other than for just for that moment. That frenetic way of what we’ve turned music into, with digital technology, I’m so against that.

While I do agree that iTunes and the like are convenient as hell, I do think there’s been something lost as we’ve shifted towards singles as opposed to full-length albums. I’ve probably made the observation before, but inevitably in discussions of favorite artists, such will go to “Favorite Album Cuts” or something like that. And there’s something to be said for an artist who can deliver 10 or 12 quality songs at one whack as opposed to one or two songs every so often. Of course, on the other hand, I think the talking point about artists loading their albums with filler material around the singles is a legitimate one as well. But I think we would be better-served to demand better albums from artists as opposed to downloading a single. Come to think of it, the artists would be better off, too…


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One Response to “Random musings, 12.1.15”

  1. AeroDillo Says:

    Have modern American audiences become so accustomed to spectacle and gimmick that an evening of good music performed with passion isn’t enough?

    No…I would argue that the modern American audience has been drip-fed shit for so long that by and large they wouldn’t recognize good music in the first place.

    Once upon a time you first and foremost had to be a singer to be on the radio. Looks were great if you had them, not an issue if you didn’t (incidentally, this is probably why Marilyn Monroe never had much of a singing career and Patsy Cline never amounted to much as a fashion model).

    Watch some of the footage of the greats and you’ll find a whole trainload of people with golden voices and masterful storytelling skills who hit every branch of the ugly tree coming down. You listen to them to sing and you think about the lyrics and the music and how it all works together because that’s the point – they sing you a song that entertains you for a few minutes, you don’t care that they look like fifty miles of bad road or which divorce they’re working on now.

    The beginning of the music video put a crimp in that. But it wasn’t the end, per se. I remember watching CMT as a kid. In those days you generally saw a video do one of two things –

    a) it provided a dramatic illustration of an audio experience (i.e., a short story in video form) or

    b) it provided an ambiance for the music (i.e., it was more or less a video of the musicians at work, but seldom in a studio environment and rarely with any kind of underlying story development).

    Either way, the principle of the thing was that the video existed to support the song. You could enjoy the song on the radio; you could enjoy the music video on television; you could try and watch the video WITHOUT the music and it’d fall apart like wet toilet paper.

    Then it happened. Untold thousands of screaming teenage girls discovered Tim McGraw and the half of the world with a Y chromosome figured out that Shania Twain made a pretty good video if you were quick enough with the mute button. Not long after that appeared The Garth, who had a handful of passable songs but moreover had a showman’s knack for spectacle and figured out that the visual overstatement of a circus train derailing into a chemical factory would yield enough fire and explosions and flashing lights to cover any deficiencies in his artistic abilities.

    And mainstream country music never recovered. Which is why country music is now awash in the same kind of crap that precludes any significant depth in pop – it’s all visual, all flash, and as long as it looks good through beer goggles Saturday night nobody cares if it’s still standing when Sunday morning rolls around. The actual art – the thing that lent the music permanence – is gone.

    Because youth and beauty can rot. The good times end. Sooner or later the club falls into a heap and the patrons go elsewhere. But good music speaks to a universal truth. It’s not always big and gaudy. It doesn’t have to shake the world. All it has to do is touch a chord in people that resonates after the radio’s switched off.

    Hell, George Strait managed to write one about falling for a girl because they passed notes in school. It wasn’t epic. It didn’t set the music world back on its heels. But it DID resound with people.

    Jimmie Rodgers had a whole bag about being alone and far from home. Pushing a century since he sang into a microphone, but you listen today and beyond the scratches and pops and the strange abundance of yodeling you get it. You understand what he means about wanting to go back and what it is to be away.

    Reba McEntire sang about being a housewife and, though not being unhappy, nonetheless living with the haunted feeling that somewhere along the way she’d made a misstep, that some aspect of life was passing her by and she didn’t even know what it was.

    Those songs had it. They had truth. They had that near-indefinable quality that differentiates sound from noise.

    Passion? They had it in spades. Now they’ve got less so they try to cut the difference with volume and spectacle and tone-deaf white trash trying to stake a claim on the legacy of some of the finest musicians who ever lived. That’s why nobody gives a shit about the song – the song doesn’t matter anymore. It’s what this one wore to the Grammy’s or who this one’s sleeping with or how OMG HAWT this one looks in a wifebeater and cutoffs.

    And it’s not performing – it’s screaming, strutting, fronting your backwoods cred while you try to rap so that the ‘new markets’ know you’re not that square old grandpa music your parents like.

    The singer is inconsequential. They don’t need experience or talent because they exist as a cash cow for big-music machines which know that people who’ve grown up listening to crap will believe that it’s quality. Crap is cheaper than quality. It doesn’t take the time or the love that a proper craftsman will put into his work. And if this one artist gets uppity, no problem – replace him from that line of idiots wrapped around the block. They’re young and dumb and desperate AND they’re willing to embarrass themselves through a televised audition. No musical abilities necessary. Find a pretty face first. Graft the music on later.

    The music is the easy part – figure out your rhyme scheme first and then shoehorn in whatever sounds close. Don’t worry if it’s garbage because most of the listening public can’t tell the difference. Be sure people can see your full sleeve tattoos and your trucker cap so they know you’re an outlaw. Have your girl hang a buckmark from her navel piercing so they know you’re country. Don’t get off the formula because the formula makes money. Get a good long shot of the truck with the lift kit and the oversize pipes. Sample the hell out of better musicians if you can get away with it.

    Do it long enough and people start to believe the hype. Then they emulate it. Then you get to be a great big musical hero because you talk the straight talk about how life really is.

    Pickup. Field. Bikini. Creek. Beer. Boom – done. Next.

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