Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Random hit, 08.07.2019

July 8, 2019

It bugs the shit out of me that they’re making such a big deal out of Lil Nas X when we have folks like Charley Crockett singing actual country music. God damn but this is gorgeous.

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Tuesday music musings, 07.05.2019

May 7, 2019

Lil Nas X and “Old Town Road” country, huh?

Negative, Ghostrider.

It may well be more country than (insert mainstream country song or artist here), but that’s more of a commentary on the toxic waste dump mainstream country has become than the actual merit of this as a country song. I listened to it, and sonically speaking it’s just your standard hip-hop song, which is fine if that’s your thing. But the arguments I have seen for this being a country song are absolutely insane.

“He sings about horses! And cheating on his girlfriend!”

Well hey, bully for him. But that doesn’t make “Old Town Road” a country song. I have mentioned this before, but some years ago, I heard someone make the observation that Metallica’s “Wherever I May Roam” was as good a loner song as anything Merle Haggard ever wrote. And they were right. That song and “Ramblin’ Fever,” thematically speaking, were identical to each other:

Rover, wanderer, nomad, vagabond, call me what you will…anywhere I roam, where I lay my head is home…

…and I don’t leave the highway long enough, to bog down in the mud, ’cause I’ve got ramblin’ fever in my blood….

So is Merle the metal titan? Is Metallica the revered country legend? These are the questions we have to ask these days, I guess, just to show how thoroughly fucked up things are with country music anymore.

And then there was this, roughly paraphrased from a random Redditor:

“George Strait’s ‘You Look So Good In Love’ was co-written by the dude who co-produced and co-wrote all the songs on Alanis Morrissette’s Jagged Little Pill!!”

(Glen Ballard, for the record.)

Yes, and Gary Stewart’s “Out Of Hand” — one of the greatest hard-country songs of the 1970s — was co-written by Jeff Barry, whose discography includes some of the most iconic pop songs of the 1960s, including Manfred Mann’s “Do Way Diddy Diddy,” the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” and the Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love.” So that argument doesn’t work either.

“B-b-b-but, Sam Hunt! And Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan!”

Yes, we know. We went over them when Beyonce’s “Daddy Lessons” not being a country song was the outrage du jour, if not before.

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And then we have this from Galleywinter, in response to a certain piece from Trigger:

Maren Morris and any other artist can do whatever he/she damn well pleases. It’s not their job to fit into a genre. It’s their calling to produce what speaks to them & follow the muse wherever it leads. It is the audience that determines boundaries & it really doesn’t matter.

Whenever someone doesn’t produce what the Texas audience feels is true we are quick to cry sellout and move on. The same goes for national acts and pop. It really doesn’t and shouldn’t matter.

Listen to what you want and ignore the rest. Some stuff is bad and some people still like it. Genre “restrictions” be damned.

Play something unrestricted today. And do it loudly.

Willie Nelson ignored and blasted “restrictions” in the 70s and it ended up creating just about all that has followed.

One final note. Maren Morris has been a badass since she was a teenager playing 4 hour basement gigs in The Stockyards alongside the likes of Josh Weathers and Cody Jinks. She’s paid her dues and can make whatever she wants. Listen or don’t.

I don’t necessarily want to get bogged down in the debate about Maren Morris in particular, but I will say that I doubt Trigger or anyone else carping about her would be so het up had Nashville “country” in general not turned into the flaming pile of shit that it’s been since about 2010 or so.

I will say that we can talk about alleged genre “restrictions” until the sun burns out, and that’s all fine and good, but, well, let’s just put it like this:

What would we say if, God forbid, George Strait started making music that sounded like Sam Hunt? Or if Jason Boland started doing songs like “That’s My Kind of Night”? I would bet the cost of my house that we’d all be raising hell. Because when you say those names, there are certain standards that are expected to be met. You might even call them “boundaries” if you like.

The same thing applies more generally to country music as a genre. When the term “country music” is uttered, there are a lot of us who have certain expectations and hold certain standards as to what that term means. And frankly, I don’t see anything wrong with that.

More than all of that, whether anyone wants to admit it, country music has always been the bastard stepchild of American popular music genres. A perfect example of such I saw recently, when some tabloid music webzine said George Strait was paying homage to Elvis Presley with “Milk Cow Blues,” when Strait said he actually got that song off an old Bob Wills album that came out when Elvis was all of six years old. Furthermore, you don’t ever hear rap fans talking about how a song is “too rap.” You don’t ever hear metal fans say a song is “too metal.” But you do hear alleged country fans say a song is “too country,” and you hear people apologizing for what it was, i.e., “this isn’t your grandfather’s country music.” There are a lot of us who are highly cognizant of that phenomenon, and it pisses us off. Sure, Maren Morris has the right to make the music she wants. But I don’t see anything wrong with calling her out for calling it country music when it’s nothing of the sort.

Perhaps that’s the worst part of Trigger’s rant here, is that it causes people to come out and defend Maren’s music when it doesn’t deserve a shred of such. 

On nostalgia, etc.

January 11, 2019

Sometimes I wonder how many folks don’t have any particular fondness, nostalgic or otherwise, for the music of their formative years.

I don’t know exactly how it could be defined, but for purposes of the discussion we’ll define it as what came out when you were between 12 and 25 years old. So for me it was between 1989 and 2002. So we’ll just say ’90s country, grunge, that sort of thing. It’s funny…I listened to and bought a ton of ’90s country and did like it back then, but I eventually left most of it behind in favor of classic country and all the stuff coming out of the Texas & Oklahoma scenes. Beyond George Strait and Alan Jackson, I could take or leave most ’90s and early-2000s country anymore. I never liked the grunge thing, and I still don’t; even way back before I actually discovered the classic metal beyond all the glam stuff I was rather bewildered at how many people talked about the grunge bands killing metal like it was a good thing, and the more classic metal I hear, the more that baffles me. Nostalgia is a very powerful motivator, and a big, big seller; it’s how we still have classic rock stations playing music from more than 50 years ago. Of course a lot of that music still holds up, but I don’t necessarily mean to talk about the quality of it. I hear people waxing nostalgic about say, ’90s country, and I just think, “meh, OK” when I jammed to it just as much as anyone. I often think I really took the road less traveled as far as evolution of music tastes go…

(As an aside, it seems like way, WAY too many of my generation remember that stuff a bit too fondly. It’s like no one remembers Bryan White or Neal McCoy, or Tracy Byrd’s great voice being wasted on shit like “Watermelon Crawl.”)

Well, that’s special.

January 7, 2019

From MetalSucks, via Facebook:

I’m not sure whether I’ve ever listened to The Amity Affliction before (if I did, their music didn’t stick with me). But vocalist Joel Birch’s latest Twitter thread has inspired me to give them another shot.

Birch spotted a fan wearing a Trump jersey at the band’s show at Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas, NV on January 5th and decided to call him out from the stage. Video of the incident doesn’t exist (or hasn’t surfaced yet)…

Well then. Allow me to translate Mr. Birch’s outburst:

“So here we are, trying to make a living playing music in a world where people increasingly think music isn’t worth paying for. And here we have one of that dwindling number of people who not only is willing to part with his money but also his time to come see me and the rest of the band do what we love to do (and, again, PAY US).

“But I don’t like his political beliefs, so I’m going to embarrass and alienate him and all our other fans who share his beliefs, because we have more than enough fans already.”

And for all that, I don’t even care for Donald Trump! Stop making me sound like I am defending him!

Thursday political & music musings, 19.4.18

April 19, 2018

There’s really not much I could add to this…

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…but when I heard about it, I did have this thought:

“That New York City Chick-fil-A isn’t being patronized by folks making special trips from Tupelo or Montgomery, bubba.”

In its own way, that’s the funniest bit about this whole thing.

But I guess such a reaction is to be expected from a publication who did a feature on the most celebrated Americana music artist of our time…and made its focus his trip to a fucking New York art museum instead of his actual music.

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Songwriter Shane McAnally, on Florida Georgia Line:

Still, it’s this snobbery that comes sometimes with country music where people go, “They’re too this or too that.”

It’s not snobbery. It’s called “maintaining some definition of the genre.” And the fact that Shane McAnally refuses to understand that is just further evidence that he is part of the problem in Nashville, his involvement with Kacey Musgraves and Midland be damned.

Also, I would bet good money that McAnally has no problem with Music Row or “country” radio thinking certain artists are “too country.” He is a raging hypocrite.

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I have always liked Randy Travis, but I was never a big fan of “Better Class of Losers” — less so in recent years, for the bit “they buy their coffee beans already ground.” I never thought about it before, but after I started making coffee using other methods than drip, I was like, “the hell’s wrong with grinding your own coffee? It’s not like you can get a proper French press grind off the shelf!”

(And yes, I know. I sound like some sort of SWPL monster. But a bean grinder doesn’t cost that much money, nor does a French press…)

Where does music come in here, you ask?

Well, on his 1992 sophomore album Longnecks & Short Stories, Mark Chesnutt recorded a song with the title “Uptown Downtown (Misery’s All the Same)”…

…but the actual title of that song was, you guessed it, “Better Class of Losers” (originally recorded by Ray Price under that title), and it was a far, far superior song.

In memory of Brandon Jenkins….

March 2, 2018

who died today at 48

Most folks, from what I gather, knew the Bleu Edmondson version of that song, but to my ear Brandon’s was the best. (He was the song’s writer.) Which reminds me of a post 95.9 The Ranch deejay Shayne Hollinger made on Facebook some time ago:

Got a nasty message about playing Brandon Jenkins “Finger On The Trigger”, not because of the message in the song, but because we were playing a guy covering a Bleu Edmondson’s song according to him. I quote “I thought this station played original music. You suck for playing this.”

My apologies Brandon Jenkins for not saying this enough. You are absolutely one of my favorite songwriters on this planet. I feel partially responsible for this.

It’s time for us ALL to educate our listeners better.

He was damn good, and he will be sorely missed.

 

 

 

Friday music musings, 19.1.17

January 19, 2018

You know, this shit is really getting old:

…people hate Walker Hayes because Walker Hayes sounds different. That’s all it is.

Now, granted, Wide Open Country is correct. They’re just not correct in the way they think they are. People indeed do not like Walker Hayes because he does sound different…as in, not the slightest bit country. As in, if there is such a thing as “less country than Sam Hunt,” Walker Hayes would be IT. I mean, they can call us closed-minded and say we like our music predictable, but that doesn’t make it true. I don’t just listen to country music. Hell, the last album I bought was Savatage’s Hall of the Mountain King.

And even if you’re not one who likes all kinds of music, there’s not really anything wrong with that either. There’s only so much time in the day. If you don’t like deep house music or grindcore and don’t care to go explore them, and you wouldn’t cotton to those types of music being marketed as country, that doesn’t make you closed-minded. It makes you someone who has preferences, and that’s OK. I don’t see why these people find such to be so objectionable.

And as I’ve said before elsewhere, albeit with different phrasing, I find it odd that country music seems to be the only genre whose fans are basically told to open their minds when they object to something like Walker Hayes. If he was marketed as, say, a progressive metal artist, or a Texas blues artist, or a salsa artist, fans of those genres would be just as up in arms as we are, and no one would bat an eye. It’s as if country music is the only genre that is not allowed to have an identity. I have yet to figure out why this is the case.

Also, what is this “progressive country” bullshit? That term has a meaning, and a history completely at odds with what outlets like Wide Open Country are trying to redefine it as:

Progressive Country developed in the late ’60s as a reaction to the increasingly polished and pop-oriented sound of mainstream, Nashville-based country. Inspired equally by the spare, twangy, hard-driving sound of Bakersfield country, the singer/songwriter introspection of Bob Dylan, classic honky tonk, and rock & roll, progressive country was the first anti-Nashville movement to emerge since the dawn of rock & roll. Progressive country was rootsier and more intellectual than many of its contemporary genres; it was more concerned with breaking boundaries than with scoring hits. The genre was also songwriter-based. Many of its key artists — Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Billy Joe Shaver, Tom T. Hall, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock — were not “good” singers by conventional standards, yet they wrote distinctive, individual songs and had compelling voices. By the early ’70s, such artists had developed a sizable cult following, and progressive country began to inch its way into the mainstream, usually in the form of cover versions (Sammi Smith took Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through the Night” to the country Top Ten). Progressive country also provided the basis for outlaw country, a harder-edged genre that shook country-pop (briefly) off the top of the charts in the mid-’70s. Even after Outlaw’s five-year reign in the late ’70s, progressive country continued to exist, until it eventually metamorphosed into alternative country in the ’80s.

Put another way, progressive country was OG Texas Country, and Americana and alternative country before those terms came into the American musical lexicon. And it was a reaction to the ’70s equivalent of what people like Walker Hayes are doing now. What was progressive country? It was this…

…this…

and this.

It is most assuredly not this:

(Be forewarned, if you click that link, by the conclusion of that 3 minutes and 20 seconds, it will have taken more out of your life than it will ever give back.)

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Speaking of Savatage, that album is really good. I’ve been meaning to pick it up ever since I heard the title track on Sirius years ago. My favorites from it are that title track, “White Witch,” and this song right here…

I don’t know if that’s Eddie Van Halen-style two-handed tapping going on in the background with that guitar, but it’s pretty badass. Good stuff, Maynard.

Sunday music musings, 17.12.17

December 17, 2017

OK, so this piece started out great, but then it went all to shit.

We’ve seen time-and-time again that artists like Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson want nothing to do with the mainstream country music community. Isbell especially has been outspoken about not appearing on stage at places like the CMA Music Festival. This just confuses me. Why would he not want the opportunity to expose his music to a larger amount of people? If Isbell and Simpson truly care about the genre, than they should care about carrying on its legacy.

I am absolutely sure that Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson do care about country music, but I fail to see why they should waste their time catering to the mainstream to do their part, whatever it might be, to carry on its legacy. Even if you could divest it of the (admittedly subjective) quality of being good or bad, the fact remains that the mainstream country music establishment is now catering to people who don’t give a shit about anything before about 2010. You can try to talk about the writers Crowell mentions in that song, or people like Gram Parsons or Billy Joe Shaver, and their place in country music to these people, but you might as well be talking in Portuguese for all they’ll understand or care. Beyond that, mainstream country is arguably broken beyond repair and has been for quite some time, and furthermore, it is less relevant than it has ever been, as evidenced by all those artists and bands in the last few years who have had No. 1 albums and sold hundreds of thousands of copies of said albums all without the benefit of mainstream country radio airplay — among them Isbell and Simpson themselves. They’re all doing their part; they’re just doing it on their own terms outside the mainstream.

Also, history lesson? Waylon, Willie and the boys having to leave Nashville to get the outlaw movement rolling?

But the most delicious irony is this: The author of this piece puts this song on this pedestal, and it IS a fine song…but other than a few mainstream artists having recorded his songs, Rodney Crowell has had nothing to do with mainstream country since 1995. His last top-10 hit on country radio was in 1992. And the albums he recorded after his exit from the mainstream are widely considered to be his finest work.

Really, I should have just stopped at “medium.com”.

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One of the things I thought was pretty neat as I dug into older country music way back in the late ’90s and early aughts was how the same songs were recorded by a bunch of different artists. And today I found more…

Screwing around on Wikipedia earlier today, I found that on 1973’s What’s Your Mama’s Name, Tanya Tucker recorded four songs that were previously recorded and released by other artists:

“The Chokin’ Kind,” a Top 10 hit for Waylon Jennings in 1968;

“California Cottonfields,” previously recorded by Merle Haggard, an album cut on 1971’s Someday We’ll Look Back;

“Teddy Bear Song,” a No. 1 hit for Barbara Fairchild earlier that year;

“Pass Me By (If You’re Only Passing Through),” a Top 10 hit for Johnny Rodriguez, also from earlier that year.

I think I might like to hear those.

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Speaking of Johnny Rodriguez — and songs that have been recorded by more than one artist — as blasphemous as it may be, I think he did the better version of “That’s The Way Love Goes,” as much as I love Merle Haggard….

Wednesday music musings, 6.12.17

December 6, 2017

Browsing the Billboard country albums chart yesterday, and what do I see but this…

Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 1.32.50 PM

Wait, what? No. 5, really?

Yes, I know. I have said before that the Eagles, at least their first couple of albums, were more country than a lot of what passes for such in the mainstream anymore, as damning with faint praise as that might be. And make no mistake, Hotel California is a fine rock album, with several of my favorite Eagles songs on it. But Hotel California is not a country music record. It was not a country music record in 1975, and it is not a country music record now. And Don Henley himself would likely tell you as much, considering that he went on record 15 years ago as apologizing for the Eagles’ influence on country music:

“What they call ‘young country,’ unfortunately, is an offshoot of what we used to do. It’s our fault. I’m so sorry. I apologize to the entire universe.”

Still more country than Sam Hunt, though…

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Speaking of genres, there was this via Farce the Music, from carpetbagger piece of shit Robert Estell, better known as Bobby Bones:

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Really now? Those are some big words coming from a dude who might well not have a job, or at least might well have a much smaller bully pulpit, this time next year. (Google “iHeartRadio going concern” for some interesting light reading.)

And even if he does still have a job by this time next year, that’s still not going to make “country” radio any more relevant to a lot of people. Sure, it’s still the only game in town for a lot of people, but there’s still the matter of all those folks discussed in this space before who have No. 1 debuts on the album sales charts and have sold hundreds of thousands of copies of said albums, all without the benefit of country radio airplay. OF course, there’s the matter of the charts being compromised all to hell as in the item above, but the sales are what they are.

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For the life of me I can’t find it now, but there was this graphic going round with a text message with the following text:

“Hey, you wanna go see Florida-Georgia Line?”

“You spelled George Strait wrong.”

And there was this comment in response:

“I’ll take Florida Georgia Line. They at least do concerts for ‘the little people’. I can’t afford to fly somewhere and pay for a ticket for George Strait.”

Yup, because George Strait totally didn’t burn up the road for almost 40 years “do(ing) concerts for ‘the little people.'” I mean, really, if you didn’t go see Strait during that time I feel pretty comfortable saying it’s your own fault.

Saturday music musings, 11.11.17

November 11, 2017

Apparently Washington Post music critic Chris Richards is hellbound and determined to throw every bit of his credibility away. First it was “Sam Hunt…(is) far and away country’s most forward-thinking stylist, and he deserves to be recognized as such,” and then it was, “Maren Morris…is a straight-talking, forward-thinking fountain of dash, and she’s funneling it into some great country music.”

And now, there’s this, via Saving Country Music:

not one artist found the courage to say a single word about gun control after 58 fans were shot dead at a country music festival in Las Vegas last month….today’s country stars are singing about an apolitical no-place that doesn’t actually exist.

Apolitical no place that doesn’t actually exist. Apparently this dude has never heard, for example, anything from Jason Boland’s latest album, or the Turnpike Troubadours’ “1968” or “Southeastern Son,” or Corb Lund’s “Gettin’ Down on the Mountain,” the title track to the Jason Eady album When The Money’s All Gone, or…you get the idea. Now, you could very well make the argument that what Chris Richards says is true, but we all know that he’s making this argument for entirely the wrong reasons. Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that 2010s country music (the mainstream component of it, at least) is a near-total wasteland, from the whole bro-country business to Kelsea Ballerini, Thomas Rhett, Jerrod Niemann, Chris Lane, Walker Hayes, and, yes, Sam Hunt and Maren Morris. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that someone like Chris Richards would say something like this under these circumstances, but it just rings so incredibly hollow and hypocritical. Small wonder so many people have lost faith in the media, with people like him writing for ostensibly credible and respected outlets.

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Well, this was rather disappointing…

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Aaron Watson’s a good, good guy from everything I can tell, but to be frank, as an artist, to see him associate with somebody like Granger Smith is rather unsettling. I mean, Watson’s no Jason Boland even on his best day, but he’s still way the hell ahead of Granger Smith for the most part.

But with this latest album, I gotta admit, I wonder…

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Trigger posted a fine review of my favorite Lee Ann Womack album. I heard the first single, “I May Hate Myself In the Morning,” and knew I had to have the album; it was a Day One buy for me, and when I heard the twin-fiddle opening of the title track, I knew I was in for something really special. Killer album from start to finish. If I had to pick a least favorite track it’d probably be “What I Miss About Heaven,” but I still don’t ever skip it. I also really liked her covers of “Waitin’ for the Sun to Shine”…

and “Just Someone I Used To Know.”

The latter, of course, was a hidden track; I remember hearing the end of “Psalm 151” and the cd still going, wondering what was next, and BAM! More twin fiddles. “Oh, I know this song!” Gorgeous, gorgeous ending to a gorgeous album. Lee Ann has done great stuff since, but There’s More Where That Came From remains her masterpiece.