31 seconds, Brad Paisley! 31 seconds of “Heaven South” was all I could take!
I am a son of the South, make no mistake about it. Born in North Mississippi, raised in East Texas, and I am quite familiar with what Paisley talks about in the song…
…and even I think it’s the most overrated thing ever. I LIKE living in the city and everything it offers, and I make no apologies for that. Living in a place where there’s little more to do than hunt, fish, and watch UFC kinda sucks, especially when one has no interest in that last thing. (And don’t even get me started on that high school football business — because you know that’s another integral part of all this — especially right as the news here in San Antonio is being dominated by the arrests of several football players from a local high school on charges of sexual assault under the guise of “hazing.”)
I guess I say all of that to say this: At this point I really don’t think there’s a new, original way of expressing the sentiments Paisley has expressed in that song. Songs about the rural South have just been done to death. I think the last good song that fits anywhere in that vein would be Alan Jackson’s “Small Town Southern Man,” but that was just as much a tribute to AJ’s dad as it was his way of life, and as far as I can tell we don’t really have any singer-songwriters in mainstream country on his level anymore, so stuff like “Heaven South” is what we’re going to keep getting. More’s the pity.
And what also really get me is comments like this one:
Never blame the artist for what the fans love and buy!
Why not? I remember when I was getting in on the ground floor of the Texas music movement back around the turn of the century, it trafficked in a lot of the same bro-country tropes we deride now, albeit with a Texas flavor (floating the Guadalupe, drinking Shiner Bock or Lone Star instead of Fireball, etc.) As Brad Beheler at Galleywinter so eloquently put it:
There are current acts in Texas and Oklahoma that are flamed for doing music similar to what Pat Green and Cory Morrow were making fifteen years ago. But, if songs like “Drink One More Round” or “Southbound 35″ were to be released today wouldn’t those types of songs be lumped in with the Donahew white trash lowest common denominator Texas stuff? I recall many old school Robert Earl Keen and Jerry Jeff fans denouncing PG and CM as copycat kids in it to make a buck playing to frat guys with backwards hats and neon-tinged morals.
But even though many of the artists got away from that, the scene here is still going pretty strong, to the point that you get acts like William Clark Green and the Turnpike Troubadours filling the same venues now that Roger Creager and Cory Morrow did back then. I might not blame the artist for the fans buying the artist’s music, but I will certainly blame the artist for not challenging himself and his fans with meatier material — especially when said artist was challenging his fans with meatier material once upon a time. It’s like as the Texas scene was evolving, Brad Paisley and Nashville in general were devolving, albeit not along the same timeline.
Speaking of all that, the irony is bitter indeed in this meme from Farce the Music:
What’s that, you ask?
Well, the Academy of Country Music was formed in response to the Country Music Association not giving West Coast artists like Merle Haggard and Buck Owens enough recognition. It was an…alternative, if you will.
Now, instead of, say, Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen, or Jason Boland and Billy Joe Shaver, or William Clark Green and Jack Ingram, if you watched the ACM awards the other night, you got…whatever the hell this is. (I am given to believe it’s Florida-Georgia Line and the Backstreet Boys.)
“…it’s such a pleasure to play music for people who give a shit.”
I am confident that absolutely no one who gives a shit was on that stage or in that audience.
It’s not so much that radio country has gone to hell. Pretty much nothing I listen to anymore is played on terrestrial radio outside of the AM spectrum. But I remember when it wasn’t so difficult if not impossible to find good music on the radio, old and new. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss that, not to mention folks like George and Alan representing this genre with so much class in the mainstream.