Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Thursday music musings, 25.6.16

August 25, 2016

So, Blake Shelton is a homophobic, possibly racist douchebag? And his fans so blindly rush to defend him, talking about “social justice warrior bullshit” and the like? Quelle surprise.

But of course, this has nothing to do with social justice or political correctness and everything to do with him being a decent human being by not implying, among other things, that being gay is a bad thing and that people who don’t speak English are automatically terrorists. Shelton’s entitled to his opinion, but if he’s gonna come out and say asshole things out loud, I don’t understand why calling him out for such has to be decried as “social-justice warrior BS.” Like it or not, he is a representative of country music to the general public, and he needs to comport himself as such.

But the whole problem here is much, much larger than Blake Shelton making racist, homophobic tweets, or Jason Aldean dressing in blackface. I think it’s probably safe to say that mainstream country music in general, not just Blake Shelton, is catering to a different kind of fan anymore. People who want to constantly listen to songs about partying in a cornfield in front of a bonfire on a tailgate with a scantily-clad nameless girl because “that’s what they know” — the “boys ’round here,” one might call them — don’t really present themselves as any kinds of deep thinkers. Songs like George Strait’s “Amarillo By Morning” or Aaron Watson’s “Bluebonnets” might as well be written in Portuguese for all those people are able to comprehend them, never mind a song like Jason Boland’s “Fat And Merry,” wherein he sings about “re-gentrify(ing) the shitty part of town.” It’s all shallow, ignorant music for shallow, ignorant people, who don’t know any better than to keep their mouths shut about said ignorance as opposed to putting it on display for all the world to see; for further evidence of this all you have to do is see the recurring Country TwitterFAIL feature at Farce the Music.

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I do love Suzy Bogguss, but I’d rather hear actual new music from her. I may be alone here, but I really don’t understand artists re-recording older hits, let alone entire albums. As I have put it elsewhere, I can count on one hand the re-recordings of older songs that were as good as or better than the originals, and they were all on the same album by the same artist.

(Billy Joe Shaver’s Tramp On Your Street, for the record; the songs were “Oklahoma Wind” and “Georgia On A Fast Train.”)

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This. This right here goes to the heart of my complaints about mainstream country music in general and Keith Urban in particular. Every — Single — Time Keith Urban talks about the evolution of country music, he points to — you guessed it! — countrypolitan. He has never said one word about the Bakersfield sound, the Outlaw movement, the Urban Cowboy movement and the fallout in the wake of that, the neotraditionalist movement of the mid-1980s, or the class of 1989. It’s always countrypolitan. You want to talk about the evolution of country music? Okay. By all means let’s do so. But let’s talk about all of it, not just the part of it that bolsters the argument in favor of the actual country music influences being pushed out in favor of influences from practically every other genre of mainstream music. To do otherwise, to focus on one era to the exclusion of all the others — as Keith Urban is doing and has done since day one — is incredibly self-serving, dishonest, and insulting. He’s insufferable enough as an artist as it is, but this just takes the whole thing into the stratosphere.

Friday music musings, 19.8.16

August 19, 2016

From the Houston Chronicle:

 “It’s interesting to see the diversity of what young people will buy…Obviously, things like Led Zeppelin or (Jimi) Hendrix. But Nat King Cole records sell really well to 20-somethings.”

Well, that’s something. People keep saying, “the kids don’t buy their grandpa’s music!” but as it turns out they do like it quite a bit. Not that it was a big surprise, but that’s still a really neat thing to see. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with that in the coming years, as “grandpa’s music” gets to be, say, Florida-Georgia Line. I mean, I like to think the people who like that crap will grow out of it and won’t be playing it for their grandkids, which means that it wouldn’t really be “grandpa’s music,” but one never knows…

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I heard somebody say that Chris Lane was a great singer. We might just have to agree to disagree on that one. He sounds to me like a Tim McGraw knockoff, only without the good songs, at least if “Fix” is any indication. Tim’s voice never was all that, but at least he’s had the sense to pick good, even GREAT, songs to record. But “Fix” is just hot garbage any way it’s sliced, and there’s little if any reason to expect anything else from him to be better — especially with him saying to Rolling Stone in a recent interview that “country music has room for a little bit of everything.”

And he follows that up with mentions of FGL, Sam Hunt…and Chris Stapleton.

HELLO! One of those things is not like the other, on a couple of different levels! Sam Hunt and FGL are just two different kinds of bad yet they score hits left and right, and country radio barely gives Stapleton the time of day! I mean, that’s not quite as ignorant as Kelsea Ballerini’s commentary on the state of country radio in relation to female artists, but it’s more than close enough for government work.

Also, I will say that it is rather gratifying to see Lane’s low album sales in relation to his radio airplay. I know album sales are getting to be less and less of a thing, but it’s good to see that people won’t give that dude their hard-earned money no matter how much “country” radio tries to force him down their throats. He sold 6,000 copies of his album in its first week in the stores, with “Fix” hitting No. 1 the week before its release. 6,000 copies…Jason Boland and the Stragglers’ latest album, Squelch, sold 2/3 of that in its first week, and they’ve never had a radio hit outside of certain regions in Texas and Oklahoma. And then, of course, there are the successes of the likes of Aaron Watson, Alan Jackson, and Jason Isbell, who all had Top 2 chart debuts with their latest albums as opposed to Lane’s No. 8, selling 26,000, 46,000, and 46,000 copies their first weeks on the charts respectively. And then back in September, the newest albums from Don Henley and George Strait came in at No. 1 and No. 2 as they both sold more than 80,000 copies each…yet again, with scant if any country radio airplay.

But “if you’re not on country radio, you don’t exist!” All righty then…

(Also…a cover of Mario’s “Let Me Love You”? Really?! WHAT THE…? The original version of that song sucked! We didn’t need a cover of it! I mean, yeah, Aaron Watson covered John Mayer on his last album, but at least it it was a decent song that sounded country, which is more than can be said of the Chris Lane monstrosity!)

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Oh hey, new Metallica…

Not bad, not bad at all. Pretty badass, in fact. It sounds a lot like …And Justice for All meets Death Magnetic — with much better production than either of those albums. I had heard Lars Ulrich quoted as saying Metallica’s forthcoming album would be “less frenetic” than Death Magnetic, and to be brutally honest, I did not find such encouraging at all; it’s not as if Death Magnetic was on the level of Kill ‘Em All in terms of speed and intensity. If this is what they’re going to define as “less frenetic,” I’m perfectly okay with that. According to other reports it’s going to be a double album with about 80 minutes of music. I am quite interested to see what the rest of it sounds like.

Thursday music musings, 11.8.16

August 11, 2016

So the Dixie Chicks sold out the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion this last weekend on their first United States tour in ten years, eh?

Bully for them, and for country music too. I sure as hell hope that’s at least some kind of indication that the mainstream country audience is ready for some semblance of real, substantive, actually COUNTRY music to return to the mainstream, because what we’re having to deal with as far as the mainstream goes these days makes me sick unto death. The late 1990s and early 2000s were far from any kind of golden age for country, but they were a damned sight better than what we have now. At least back then we still had George Strait and Alan Jackson; even with the decline in quality of Jackson’s output after 2002’s Drive, it was still miles ahead of any of today’s A-list stars.

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Speaking of George Strait, I thought it was a neat little surprise to see his sophomore album, Strait From the Heart, reviewed at Saving Country Music — and even more so to see it get a top grade. Now, I did (and do) think it’s a very enjoyable listen, but at least a couple of those songs did not age so well, particularly “The Steal of the Night” and “Lover In Disguise.” I thought he’d be a lot harsher on that album than he was, especially considering that the aforementioned songs were likely there due to the influence of producer Blake Mevis, who was pushing Strait in a more pop direction. Strait actually parted ways with Mevis as the next album was being put together and started over with a new producer. It was probably better for all involved, though, because I think that album, 1983’s Right or Wrong, was where Strait really hit his stride. “Let’s Fall to Pieces Together” is my all-time favorite George Strait song and has been such ever since I’ve been a fan.

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On another George Strait-related note, I’m pretty sure he’s mostly responsible for this:

Aaron Barker, the San Antonio native behind some of George Strait’s big hits, has been named to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

In the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that most of the non-Strait songs with Barker’s name on them were meh at best, but the songs that Strait recorded rank among the best of his career, particularly “I Know She Still Loves Me” and “I Can Still Make Cheyenne.” I’ve always thought the former was an underrated gem, and the latter would make my top ten of not just singles, but songs he’s recorded, period.

(And I don’t think I ever mentioned it till now, but I always thought “I Can Still Make Cheyenne” worked very well as a prequel of sorts to “The Cowboy Rides Away,” which in turn works quite well as a prequel to “Amarillo By Morning”…)

Wednesday music musings, 4.8.16

August 4, 2016

Brad Beheler at Galleywinter posts a fine tribute to Hastings, the Amarillo-based music store chain that’s on the verge of closing.

I certainly hated to hear it, myself. God knows I love the convenience of Amazon, but I have some quite fond memories of that place. I bought my first Texas music cds — from Pat Green, Cory Morrow, Owen Temple, and Roger Creager — at the Hastings in College Station. That was the beginning of my 15-plus years of digging this music. Spent a good deal more on OKOM in the next year and a half at that store, and later the one in Greenville. I’m sorry to see them go.

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I don’t know who was responsible for this, but it was well done, indeed.

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Aaron Watson exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Not bad for a guy who doesn’t exist.

Still, though, I keep thinking now of…

• The Band Perry, who seem to have gotten themselves a new major-label record deal in spite of making complete fools of themselves as artists; and

• Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, who got his own deal through Dot Records, a joint venture between Big Machine and the Republic Records unit of Universal Music Group…

…and how Watson told Saving Country Music that he shopped The Underdog to every label in Nashville, and as he put it, the album “wasn’t their cup of tea.”

I know that TBP is a known quantity, as is Steven Tyler even if he did make his mark in a different genre. And Aaron Watson, God bless him, has been ever-magnanimous and the consummate gentleman about his own situation, and it’s not like he’s in a bad place.

Still, though, I think all of this is a thoroughly damning commentary on the Nashville music establishment. And with Grady Smith leaving The Guardian, almost no one in the mainstream music press is calling any of this out for the BS that it is. Worse than that, even, to the extent that anyone is calling it out, they still don’t get it, as evidenced by the Washington Post calling Sam Hunt “progressive” and “forward thinking” and the Houston Press advocating that Beyonce be played on country radio when there’s so much other worthy country music from actual country artists being left on the table.

And it all makes me wonder if things are really going to get any better for the mainstream…

FFS, dude, just play with your thirty pieces of silver and keep your mouth shut.

July 16, 2016

Granger Smith:

“I’m very, very, very blessed to have had the Texas music scene as a testing ground,” Smith recently told The Boot and other reporters. “I had singles — on-the-radio singles — I had a radio tour a couple times … [We] had been running in the minor leagues; that’s really what it is.”

Well then.

I guess we should just consider the source and think of what Smith said as a compliment given such, but it’s still bullshit, and rather inaccurate bullshit to, uh, boot. Such a statement would seem to imply that Texas is the farm team for Nashville, and that in turn would seem to imply that what’s done in Nashville and what’s done in Texas somewhat resemble one another. And we all should know by now that such is far from the case. But no matter what, it strikes me as more than a little bit insulting. Like this scene and all that it stands for wasn’t good enough for him. And beyond that, what does that say about his opinion of all the Texas guys who went to Nashville before and came back to Texas later, like Wade Bowen, Pat Green, Cross Canadian Ragweed, and the Randy Rogers Band? That they weren’t good enough to make it in the so-called major leagues? That is every bit as offensive as “if you’re not on country radio, you don’t exist.”

Also, along the lines of my previous comment, if Smith’s analogy was anywhere near accurate, Aaron Watson would have been made a mainstream star with The Underdog and “Rodeo Queen” would have been the closing track on it. To paraphrase a commenter at Galleywinter’s FB page, Smith’s commentary is going to serve him quite well when he comes slinking back to Texas after his stint in Nashville.

And mark my words, he’ll be back at some point. And he will deserve every bit of the ridicule that he gets.

Tuesday music musings, 21.6.16

June 21, 2016

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….)

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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…

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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…)

Speaking of blowing your credibility all to hell…

May 23, 2016

…we have this, from the Houston Press:

At the end of 2015, one thing was abundantly clear – country music is and has been undergoing a seismic shift in terms of what listeners want and the mainstream has to offer. The unsigned, unpromoted successes of artists like Aaron Watson, Turnpike Troubadours and a host of country newcomers like Cody Johnson have officially proven that the country-music machine has long been broken.

A fine declaration indeed, one full of undiluted, sad truth. So how does the Houston Press blow its credibility?

They spend the next 1,039 words of the piece advocating that Beyoncé get played on country radio, that’s how. Not the Turnpike Troubadours, not Aaron Watson, not Jason Boland. Because racism, apparently, and country music needs Beyoncé lest it slide back into a niche genre, and country music “barely moves the critical needle.” It’s like the rave reviews of the work of Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton, and Sturgill Simpson aren’t a thing, or as if Charley Pride isn’t a beloved country music legend, or like Merle Haggard didn’t write at least a couple of songs decrying society’s intolerance of interracial love, or like Ray Charles never recorded songs with both Willie Nelson and George Jones.

Look. I really don’t give one single solitary shit about Beyoncé. Her music just isn’t my thing, honestly, but other than that I don’t give it any thought. But there’s a metric shit-ton of music that should be played, should have been played for a long time now, on the radio long before anything from Beyonce. Hell, George Strait is still making great music, at least as good as anything he’s ever done, and radio won’t give him the time of day anymore. Why Beyoncé and not George Strait, or for that matter any of the other above-mentioned artists? Or, for that matter again, why not Kacey Musgraves, Brandy Clark, Courtney Patton, Maren Morris, Maddie and Tae, or any of the other female artists making good music but being ignored by country radio?

And while I stand behind no one in my admiration of the Dixie Chicks, let’s be honest here — characterizing them as “torchbearers of classic authenticity in modern country” might be a bit much. Between that, the nonchalant accusations of racism, and the thrust of the piece itself…well, I never was much on characterizing anything directly as PC social-justice-warrior bullshit, but that’s certainly what this whole thing smacks of to me.

Sunday music musings, 22.5.16

May 22, 2016

Lots of shade being thrown Kelsea Ballerini’s way this week for this:

Despite complaints that female artists aren’t getting enough country radio airtime, Ballerini is beating those odds.

“I think it’s more just people saying women are not being played on the radio because right now there are a ton of us and it’s awesome,” she shared. “’Peter Pan’ broke Top 30 and it’s my favorite song on the record. And radio has been so good to me and good to [fellow female singers] Maren [Morris], Cam, Maddie and Tae.”

From Saving Country Music:

So good? Maddie & Tae’s last single “Shut Up and Fish” flopped. Maren Morris and Cam’s radio traction has yet to be proven beyond one lead single. And meanwhile dozens of females artists, new and established, are receiving no attention from radio whatsoever. It was only a couple of years ago when Kacey Musgraves was the new big rising female country star, and her singles are institutionally ignored by radio. Even Miranda Lambert’s last two singles failed to crack the Top 15 and Top 30 on radio respectively.

Country Universe:

…(Ballerini) ignores the facts that Morris’ single “My Church” has outsold her own “Dibs” (491K to 390K) but has stalled at #9 at radio instead of racing to #1, Cam’s “Mayday” is struggling to move up on the current charts (where it sits at #37 in its 14th week), and each of Maddie & Tae’s singles has peaked lower than its predecessor since “Girl A Country Song” became their sole top 5 hit. Or that the whole of this week’s top 40 singles list contains just 6 solo women, plus 2 duet partners, and that looking to the full top 60 singles list expands that number to a whopping 8 solo women. But clearly, it’s just a matter of people saying there’s a problem with women not being played on the radio.

But what gets me is this:

I think that every time a country artist steps outside of the country boundary, it just brings more ears to us. When Florida Georgia Line and Nelly put out the ‘Cruise’ remix, it brought so many more people to country music.

Again with the whole “gateway drug” thing. As I have noted before, that only works when the “gateway drug” in question bears some resemblance to the real thing. So I guess I might as well just come right out and say it, yet again: I don’t think Florida-Georgia Line singing a song with Nelly or Thomas Rhett aping Bruno Mars is a good thing if it makes people come to the genre wanting more of that crap. And I find it difficult if not impossible to believe that fans of those artists are going to come to “country music” and become fans of even George Strait, let alone Jason Boland or Randy Rogers. These people talk about these duets like they’re anything close to “Seven Spanish Angels,” and they’re just not.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’d never work for me to be a country singer, because every time somebody stuck a mike or a camera in my face I’d be saying stuff like this:

“I hear all this crap on the radio that bears absolutely no resemblance to country music, and the dancing chickens peddling that bastardized mystery meat music trying to justify it by talking about how they listen to all different kinds of music and they’re influenced by those different kinds of music. Well, fuck that. If you’re gonna call yourself a country singer, then be a damn country singer. Don’t get me wrong. Personally, I don’t listen to just country. I like a lot of classic rock from the ‘60s and ‘70s, ‘80s traditional metal, and more modern power and progressive metal. Symphony X, Kamelot, stuff like that. I’ve gotten to dig a lot of Motown too. I mean, you should hear some of the stuff I listen to on the bus. But that’s just it — the rock and metal stay on the bus. I’m a country music singer, and that’s what I sing. You’re not going to hear any synthesizers, screaming guitars or anything like that on my records. I love that stuff, but I owe it to myself and country music fans to be honest with what I’m trying to sell them. I could make more with doing that other stuff and selling it as country, but that’s just not who I am.”

Now, Luke Bryan might say he doesn’t get people that are into only one genre of music, but he’s never come off as really bright anyway. After all, there’s only so much time in the day, certainly not enough time to get into all the genres of music out there. And the more genres you get into, the less time you have to concentrate on them, and the more good stuff you’re going to miss. I used to try to sell myself as a music generalist, but honestly, it only comes down to a couple of different kinds of music for me — country music and metal, with that smattering of classic rock and Motown thrown in.

But perhaps there is a silver lining to Kelsea Ballerini showing her ignorance in regards to the situation with today’s country music — she pretty much blew her credibility all to pieces with that, so it might be a safe bet nobody’s going to give any credence to anything else she said in that interview either.

In memory of Guy Clark….

May 17, 2016

…who caught the train west today.

 

 

Dammit, 2016, this shit has gotten out of hand.

Sunday music musings, 1.5.16

May 1, 2016

You know, it’s funny. I’ve long sung the praises of Metallica in this space. I’ve always thought, even as I branched out and discovered more metal bands, that they were one of the greatest, for those first five releases alone. But not long ago, something happened that made me wonder about some things.

What was that?

Well, I went and bought the new Megadeth album, Dystopia. And quite simply, it freaking destroys. With the umpteenth lineup change, to boot, as drummer Shawn Drover was replaced with Lamb of God’s Chris Adler, and guitarist Chris Broderick was replaced with Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro after the former members’ respective resignations from the band.

 

 

 

Now, I don’t know how good or bad the albums were that Megadeth made between the ones with the classic lineup (Dave Mustaine, Nick Menza, David Ellefson, and Marty Friedman) and 2009’s Endgame. But I have heard various songs from those albums and liked them all, but I know that a lot of the time one or two songs might not be enough to judge the whole album. But I can tell you that two of the three albums released at least since 2009 — Endgame and Thir13en — were pretty damn good. (I wasn’t terribly keen on what I heard from Super Collider.)

Meanwhile, Metallica has released one album in the last 7 1/2 years, and as good as it was, we haven’t gotten anything from them since other than an EP of unreleased songs from the Death Magnetic sessions. Not just that, but also, if we’re gonna be quite honest about it, Metallica effectively delivered only one album of original music worth listening to between the Black Album and now. And it makes me wonder what the hell’s going on. I heard a friend say that James Hetfield has been burned out since The Black Album, and quite frankly, it’s the only thing that makes sense. (Sure, Cracked might try to tell you that Reload was okay because the band still plays “Fuel” live, but as I’ve put it before, while that song was okay, it’s certainly no “Creeping Death.”) They say that the best revenge is living well, and I gotta say, if you define “living well” as “making good music for a much longer period of time than the band you got fired from,” Dave Mustaine has most certainly gotten his.

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I was at Whataburger one day last week, having my customary morning coffee, as my ears were being assaulted by Florida-Georgia Line’s “Sun Daze,” with the line, “rock a little bit of hip-hop and Haggard and Jagger.” I’ve said before that that whole country/hip-hop mixtape/cd/playlist is one of the more inauthentic tropes, as you’re not gonna get me to believe for a minute that Tyler Hubbard is going to be spinning Merle Haggard beside N.W.A or that Luke Bryan plays Conway Twitty followed by T-Pain. But you know what it made me think of? This:

“If you like Lynyrd Skynyrd on the radio, let me know and I’ll sing you ‘Free Bird’. I like Johnny Cash, Grandmaster Flash, I’m name droppin’ like you never heard.”

And then there was this comment from Saving Country Music on the Triggerman’s review of the duo’s new single:

this Florida Georgia line song is exhibit A of why you leave the religious songwriting to Jews like Bob Dylan (gotta serve somebody; slow train coming), Leonard Cohen (hallelujah), Irving Berlin (White Christmas), and Kinky Friedman (they don’t make Jews like Jesus anymore), and to Muslims like Yusef Islam / Cat Stevens (peace train) and Richard Thompson (don’t renege on our love).

So we can add to the list of FGL’s myriad sins the fact that they make an unknown number of alleged real music fans forget about the existence of Billy Joe Shaver. “You Just Can’t Beat Jesus Christ”? “Live Forever”? Sheesh…

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Sabra and I both follow Jason Boland on Facebook, but she beat me to the mention of this, but apparently Mr. Boland named his dog Gary Stewart, after Mr. “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles)” himself. A couple of days later it occurred to me to go looking on Amazon, and what do I find but his landmark 1975 album Out of Hand available for download.

Worth the money?

You bet it was, for the three singles alone. I’ve long thought that if I never heard “She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles)” again I wouldn’t miss it a bit. Much like Marty Robbins and “El Paso,” it seems like radio thinks that is the only song he ever did. But much like “El Paso,” it works a lot better in the context of the album. His version of “Backsliders Wine” was the first one I ever heard, and still the best. (As a bit of an aside, it’s amusing to think that song and “Wildfire” were both written by the same person.)

But still, after all these years, my favorite Gary Stewart song ever has to be this album’s title track.

(Fun fact about that song: one of its writers, Jeff Barry, was a co-writer of some of the biggest pop hits of the 1960s, among them The Crystals’ “Then He Kissed Me,” the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” the Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love,” the Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack,” and the Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar,” which was later recorded by Wilson Pickett.)


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