Tuesday music musings, 21.6.16

Brad Paisley’s “Without a Fight” feat. Demi Lovato, eh?

Sigh. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I miss the Brad Paisley who did songs “feat. George Jones and Bill Anderson” or “feat. Alison Krauss.” No doubt he’d tell us all that country music in general and he in particular have “evolved beyond that.” And that is…well, it’s not fine, for sure. It sucks. But it is what it is. Personally, I’d make the observation that not a few of us who had any modicum of respect for him have evolved beyond that, too.

As for the song itself, the best that can be said for it is that it isn’t bad. At least it’s not bad on the level of Florida-Georgia Line or Sam Hunt. My expectations were pretty low, though, as I was expecting some overblown pop ballad a la Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson’s “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” as opposed to a mid-tempo sort of rockish song. But, yet again, it’s not something I’d turn off Jason Boland or Reckless Kelly for. It’s just…there, as Brad Paisley even at his best seems to be anymore.

Beyond that, though, it’ll be interesting to see what those beating the drum about the lack of airplay on country radio for females will have to say about this, if indeed they have anything to say at all. Yet again, all the females in country music getting ignored, and Brad chooses to sing a song with…a pop star? OK then.

(A not-Beyoncé pop star, at that! No doubt Amy McCarthy at the Houston Press will be all over that pretty soon….)


A couple of weeks ago, I bought a Hank Thompson box set with his version of “Dance With Me Molly,” which took me to Keith Whitley’s version, which took me down the rabbit hole…

It strikes me that, like many other artists in myriad genres, Keith Whitley’s greatness was to be truly found beyond the singles that were released for radio airplay. I suppose that this might be blasphemy to admit, but I never was really keen on any his stuff that was played on the radio beyond maybe “Homecoming ’63.”

But songs like, “Honky Tonk Heart,” “Talk To Me Texas,” “Brother Jukebox,” “I Never Go Around Mirrors”…man, that’s the good stuff, right there. I was screwing around on Spotify this weekend and decided to dig into that, and I’m pretty glad I did. Come to find out Whitley actually recorded “I Never Go Around Mirrors” twice. The older version originally appeared on 1982’s Somewhere Between as a mid-tempo shuffle, and it’s great — but there was another version that appeared on 1988’s Don’t Close Your Eyes that more approximates the Lefty Frizzell original, and it’s absolutely stunning. If Wikipedia is to be believed, that later version was supposed to have been released as a single but the chairman of the record company wanted something more upbeat, which resulted in the recording of the song “I Wonder Do You Think Of Me” (which, like “I Never Go…,” was also written by Sanger D. “Whitey” Shafer). The more things change…


And now I know what you’re thinking: “Spotify? What kind of music fan are you?”

Weeeell….I’ll own it. According to Saving Country Music, none other than Aaron Lewis has gotten into the protest song game with a song called “That Ain’t Country,” and the only way to hear the whole thing was via Spotify. I liked the snippet of it I heard, and as it turns out the whole thing was pretty good — a nice little country shuffle sonically reminiscent of Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen’s “Standards.”

Was it lyrically as good as that song? Well…no. Just one thing really spoiled it for me, though, and that was all the name-drops. Yes, we know that Willie, Merle and all the rest are country. Not really sure that particular bit needed to be pointed out. But other than that they nailed it, with both the instrumentation and his voice. I’d be interested to hear what the rest of the album sounds like, though I doubt he’ll be able to top either Bruce Robison’s or the Dixie Chicks’ versions of “Travelin’ Soldier.”

(I did like what I heard from Lewis’ previous album The Road, though. I probably should have bought that instead of the Chris Stapleton album with my birthday Amazon credit last year…)


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