Wednesday music musings, 9.3.16

Well, I certainly was not expecting this.

Blake Shelton to Adam Levine, on The Voice:

“Country’s not always about exactly what you sound like, but it’s about what you want to represent with your music,” he told the contestant. “It’s guys like you that get me so excited about the future of Nashville. Dude, you’re country.”

Then Adam Levine breaks in, “No, no! What does country and its many counterparts get to have its own club. Music reaches millions and millions of people all over the world. It’s not supposed to be in a box.”

Judge Christina Aguilera weighed in with, “I think that’s a great speech Adam.”

And then Blake Shelton responded.

“I’m not sick of the fact that [country] is this exclusive club. And it’s up to us as country artists to protect who’s in that club. Otherwise, it gets too far away of what the heart and soul is of country music. If you don’t know where it comes from, how in the hell are you gonna know where it should go? That’s why we protect it.”

Gotta say, just like Trigger did, that is quite the about-face from the “old farts and jackasses” line Shelton was spouting a little mote than three years ago. I don’t know how sincere it was, but good for him for saying it. Now, if he follows this up with a change in his own music, so much the better.

And note, if you will, how similar Adam Levine’s take on country music is to that of Chris Stapleton:

“Music reaches millions and millions of people all over the world. It’s not supposed to be in a box.”

“…it’s all just music, man. If you like one of them, great, go buy it….I would rather people stop caring about lines.”

Now, they have the right to their opinion, but it’s rather disconcerting just the same, considering Adam Levine in all likelihood couldn’t tell you the difference between Bob Wills and Mark Wills. I eagerly await Mr. Levine’s eventual country album…or, you know, not.

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Still, though, Cindy Lauper recording a country music covers album looks…intriguing, reservations be damned. The whole “people from other genres going country” thing has a rather spotty track record as of late, to be sure, but that track listing is damn near flawless. Somehow I doubt Bret Michaels and Steven Tyler even know who Patsy Montana is. And I probably could do without ever hearing any version of “Hard Candy Christmas” again, but I would venture to guess that with the songs she’s choosing to record here, she’s probably going to be fairly true to the originals. We’ll see.

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Speaking of covers, I recently picked up Tulare Dust: A Songwriters’ Tribute to Merle Haggard, from 1994. I had heard a couple of songs from this album — Billy Joe Shaver’s “Ramblin’ Fever” and Robert Earl Keen’s “Daddy Frank (the Guitar Man)” — in a couple of different places. If I remember correctly it was on Sirius and 95.9 the Ranch. I really enjoyed those two songs but had not heard any of the other songs, but a glance at the list of guests on that album was quite promising — among others Iris Dement, Dwight Yoakam, Joe Ely, and Lucinda Williams.

Yeah.

Let me tell you, a tribute album is not always going to be a sure thing in execution even if it looks good on paper. I remember sometime last year, we picked up Lucky, which was Suzy Bogguss’ Merle Haggard tribute album. Suzy Bogguss  doing Merle Haggard, with her love of Real Country, can’t go wrong with that right?

Not so much. The best way to put my own disappointment in that album is like this: her renditions of Haggard’s classics, while sung quite beautifully, were done in a style not suited to them at all. It was the type of music that you’d drink White Zinfandel with as opposed to Jack Daniels or even Shiner Bock.

This album, though? Well, all of the above-mentioned artists’ cuts are my favorites — with Shaver’s rendition of “Ramblin’ Fever,” my very favorite Merle Haggard tune at the top of the list — but every single artist here did Hag proud, even though they’re not all note-for-note originals.

But don’t take my word for it:

 

 

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