In one corner, Randy Owen, lead singer of Alabama:
I think that’s what Nashville still offers. They’ve got great songs and these great artists that can sing the phonebook, and that’s why they’re selling out stadiums.
In the other, Don Henley, lead singer of the Eagles:
What passes for country music, it’s formulaic. Where’s the insight? Where’s the reflection? Where’s the depth?
That’s quite an…interesting contrast. It’s certainly not in a good way, mind you. I more or less said my piece on Alabama last week, and all of it is just as applicable here. To add to that, I’m sure former Alabama drummer Mark Herndon is thanking his lucky stars that the other three guys don’t want to have anything to do with him after the way they’re crapping all over their legacy as of late.
All of it is to say in relation to this, though, that Randy Owen might have been legitimately considered an authority on good songs once upon a time, but now? Not so much. The Don Henley quote makes for an interesting counterpoint. How sad that an old classic rocker can see modern country music for exactly what it is but one of the biggest country stars of his day can believe — and try to tell the rest of us, to boot! — that the urine running down his leg is rain.
(I’ve been a bit more leery of Henley’s upcoming country album after the Steven Tyler and Bret Michaels turds, but if his and Dolly Parton’s cover of the old Louvin Brothers chestnut “When I Stop Dreaming” is any indication, that album might actually be very good as opposed to even just passable. We shall see.)
Scott Hendricks might say that “Real Men Love Jesus is “not a Jesus song,” but either way, it’s still pretty stupid, as most if not all songs based on insipid bumper sticker slogans are. I don’t love football, and I never did the Saturday night bar thing. So by Scott Hendricks’ standards I’m not a real man. Which doesn’t particularly bother me, but it’s still one more reason I tell people now, “I like country music, not the crap Nashville passes off as such anymore.”
And the less said about Michael Ray, the better. I saw Ray defended on another site as follows:
“Ray could give you a three hour concert of Merle Haggard and George Jones songs and do it convincingly….Unfortunately, doing that would not get him on the radio and would have not landed him a recording contract.”
Which may be true of course, but the same could probably be said of Darius Rucker and his foray into country music has been one disappointment after another too.
As for Ray doing what he had to do to get on the radio and whatnot…perhaps that may be true, but then I go back to what I say a lot about the mainstream game being rigged with a bunch of crappy rules that don’t benefit the artists or the longtime fans who give a damn about the genre. You might say he has no choice but to play the game, but as for me I beg to differ. The Red Dirt and Americana scenes are full of people who are playing an entirely different game by an entirely different set of rules, and I’m going to take a shot in the dark here and say that they’re doing pretty well for themselves, at least well enough not to have to apply for jobs keeping the shopping carts off the Walmart parking lot.
Ray seems to have made his choice, and that is fine. But if songs like this are what comes of it, then he deserves every bit of criticism that comes his way.
Speaking of Red Dirt, the long awaited new album from the Turnpike Troubadours came out Friday, and it’s very good. So far I’d have to say my favorite songs from it are “The Mercury,” the remake of “Easton and Main,” and the cover of the Old 97s’ “Doreen.”