Thursday music musings, 11.6.15

What do you want to bet Brad Paisley doesn’t even know what he said here?

And during a recording session, in country music, that [having a bar in the studio] doesn’t detract from anything. That just helps the experience, I think. It’s not like we’re doing intense, complicated jazz. You don’t need to be completely 100 percent present. It’s just country music, folks.

Just country music. You don’t need to be…present. It was pretty subtle, but that Brad Paisley quote suggests to me that he’s more or less just phoning it in anymore. Of course, it was more obvious actually listening to the music, but I was pretty shocked to see him come right out and admit as much. It may be true that you “don’t need to be completely 100 percent present,” but if you’re not, then why the hell aren’t you doing something else that you can be bothered to be wholly present for?

Granted, maybe he wasn’t completely wrong. I am given to believe that George Jones recorded at least a few of biggest hits blasted out of his gourd, and surely he wasn’t the only one. But of course, there are myriad differences between the likes of George Jones and a hack like Brad Paisley, not the least of which was that George Jones — to the best of my knowledge, at least — was never dumb enough to actually come out and admit that he was intentionally running on autopilot.

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I really don’t understand what Billy Currington has against sad songs. Hell, anyone with any knowledge of country music knows that’s part of the genre’s entire foundation. It’s just such a load of unmitigated bullshit. I remember Aaron Watson told Saving Country Music not long ago, “I want my music to be a positive influence on people, that helps people get through some tough times.”

And with that, he still sings songs like “Bluebonnets.” Because he knows there are more of us who like to hear those kinds of songs than Billy Currington and his simplistic-minded ilk like to think. I guess it’s Currington’s voice to waste on songs like “Pretty Good at Drinkin’ Beer,” but it’d be nice if he’d lend it to, shall we say, more challenging material.

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Lots of consternation about Keith Urban’s new single, with the title “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16.” And granted, it’s bad — even worse than the title might imply, in fact. It’s quite possibly the most cliche-packed song ever written — even more so than Aaron Watson’s “Hey Y’all.” But unlike the Watson song, this one was apparently written with the writers being entirely serious, with not a bit of satire intended.

But I could have told you years ago that this was where Keith Urban was going to end up. He has never once shown any fidelity to country music beyond the extent he could make money characterizing his flavorless mush of music as such. And he has constantly defended the direction in which country music is going by using the same tired arguments about evolution that everyone else is using. Sure, he can play guitar, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

“Country music has no shortage of talented instrumentalists — Jerry Reed, Steve Wariner, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Keith Whitley, and the list goes on.

“And none of them ever had to have their place in country music justified by their instrumental talents. There’s a reason for that.”

And you have to wonder if any of the people involved here had any idea how Mellencamp hated the John Cougar moniker. After all, he did get rid of it at his earliest opportunity….

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