Posts Tagged ‘music’

Come on, Jason, really?

September 10, 2019

I do love Jason Isbell, but this is just next-level stupid, and considering all his Twitter rantings on gun control, that’s really saying something:

“Women are practically ghosts on country radio too, so it’s not hard to understand why female artists like (Maren) Morris, who had massive crossover success with the Zedd collaboration ‘The Middle,’ might pull away from the genre and gravitate to more welcoming formats like pop and Americana. ‘The country purists online, they’re the worst,’ Isbell says shortly after rolling up a pant leg to show off his ‘Highwomen’ tattoo, as well as some swell printed socks. ‘If you look at the country radio charts, and there is one woman every three weeks in the Top 20, what’s going to encourage women to try to make music in that direction?’

Wow, dude, way to make fans of more traditional country music fans not want to give the Highwomen album a chance. I mean, it’s not the revolutionary, world-beating stuff some people are claiming it to be, but this online country purist heard it and thought it was actually pretty good. I don’t intend to get it just yet, because I have other stuff I’d like to get first, but I do hope it does well so as to encourage more music like it.

Also, Willie Nelson would like a word with those of you who think “If She Ever Leaves Me” was the first gay country song.

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Tuesday music musings, 20.08.19

August 20, 2019

I am not really big on the whole streaming music bit. I much prefer to own music as opposed to just renting it or whatever. I also believe that artists should be fairly compensated for their work, and the streaming model in general presents some huge issues with that.

That said, I got a cool new job, one that allows us to listen to Spotify while we work. Most of my burgeoning library comprises stuff I’ve already bought, because I am weird like that, but I have been sampling a pretty good bit of stuff that I have ended up buying.

We’ll talk about the other stuff later, but right now let’s talk about Gary P. Nunn. We went and bought What I Like About Texas: Greatest Hits a few years back and have played it a LOT since then…

…but, of course, you see exactly where I’m going with this.

That album featured five songs from 1993’s Totally Guacamole. The other day I was browsing the GPN albums one day and clicked on that album, and what caught my eye right away was one of the other seven songs, a tune called “You Can’t Get the Hell out of Texas.” I thought, huh, that title sounds familiar. I knew that song from way back, sort of. Back when 99.5 the Wolf in Dallas was a pretty good station and had Justin Frazell doing the traffic reports in a chopper in the skies over D-FW, they’d play a George Jones song with that title every Friday afternoon at 5:00.

I saw that title on the Gary P. Nunn album and thought, huh, I wonder if that’s the same song. Suuuurrrre enough….

Gotta say, I take a backseat to no one when it comes to my love for George Jones, but with that doghouse bass and Floyd Domino cutting loose on the piano…Lord, but that is top-shelf stuff.

I do have to say this next song kinda rubbed me the wrong way at first. Lord knows I don’t subscribe to the “’90s country is best country” thing, but I did and do think most of the folks that were called out in that song were legit, especially Rodney Crowell (I mean, shit, anyone who’s an actual country fan KNOWS that man was SO MUCH MORE than Diamonds & Dirt)….

…but then I realized it does come off as tongue-in-cheek, and taken in that context it is actually pretty funny.

And then there was “I Don’t Live Here Anymore.” For years, I only knew this version…

…and thought, “Huh, I wonder if this is the same song. Sure enough…

I really, really loved the Todd Fritsch version of this song back in the late 2000s, and it’s still pretty good, but I gotta go with Gary P. here, too. He has this tear in his voice that just makes the whole thing. I did not know that song was written by Brian Burns! Not that that surprises me; I have always thought he was a fine songwriter in addition to a great singer.

But this next song….oh my dear sweet Lord, I think this is my new favorite Gary P. Nunn song.

Look, just admit it. You heard that and got the big ole stupid grin on your face, didn’t you? (Credit Flaco Jimenez on the accordion for that.) TELL ME that is not the coolest, most South Texas thing you have ever heard in your life. Good, good stuff.

Thursday music musings, 15.08.19

August 15, 2019

I am by no means just now figuring this out…

…but Sabaton takes Iron Maiden’s game and runs with it very, very well. Swedish power metal songs all about war? I mean, how can you not love that?

This song is particularly great, about this incident from World War II:

I bought Adam Makos’ book A Higher Call some time ago but have yet to read it. That’s gonna be rectified this weekend…

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I had this meme cross my Facebook feed earlier today…

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…and really, all I could say was, Yep.

I’ve said all this before, albeit in different words, but it bears repeating: People may dismiss it as old farts bitching, but it ought to be obvious to anyone with functioning brain cells that Nashville for some time has been targeting people who think country music didn’t exist before 2010. They barely know George Strait, let alone the people who influenced him, and never mind the likes of, say, Gram Parsons, Guy Clark, or Billy Joe Shaver.

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I am not just now figuring this out either, but damn. I remember hearing Rascal Flatts back in the day and thinking they were pretty awful…but Dan + Shay make Rascal Flatts sound like Hank Thompson in comparison.

(That’s not to say that RF actually sounds good now, mind you. Think of it as stomach virus vs. stomach cancer. They both suck. One just sucks a whole lot less, comparatively speaking.)

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.

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 honor of Texas Independence Day…

March 2, 2018

I could think of few better written tributes to our state than this; I first saw it around 2006. It was attributed to Orange native Bum Phillips, but I don’t know if he really wrote it; I’ve seen it around the Web and don’t know where it originated. But no matter the author, no matter if it was written in honor of Texas Independence Day, it rings true today, and every day of the year. Every time I read it, the room always gets a bit dusty…

God bless Texas and everyone who lives here, or wishes that they did.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TEXAS — FROM BUM PHILLIPS

Being Texan by Bum Phillips

Dear Friends,

Last year, I wrote a small piece about what it means to me to be a Texan. My friends know it means about damned near everything. Anyway, this fella asked me to reprint what I’d wrote and I didn’t have it. So I set out to think about rewriting something. I considered writing about all the great things I love about Texas. There are way too many things to list. I can’t even begin to do it justice. Lemme let you in on my short list.

It starts with The Window at Big Bend, which in and of itself is proof of God. It goes to Lake Sam Rayburn where my Granddad taught me more about life than fishin, and enough about fishin to last a lifetime. I can talk about Tyler, and Longview, and Odessa and Cisco, and Abilene and Poteet and every place in between. Every little part of Texas feels special. Every person who ever flew over the Lone Star thinks of Bandera or Victoria or Manor or wherever they call “home” as the best little part of the best state.

So I got to thinkin about it, and here’s what I really want to say. Last year, I talked about all the great places and great heroes who make Texas what it is. I talked about Willie and Waylon and Michael Dell and Michael DeBakey and my Dad and LBJ and Denton Cooley. I talked about everybody that came to mind. It took me sitting here tonight reading this stack of emails and thinkin’ about where I’ve been and what I’ve done since the last time I wrote on this occasion to remind me what it is about Texas that is really great.

You see, this last month or so I finally went to Europe for the first time. I hadn’t ever been, and didn’t too much want to. But you know all my damned friends are always talking about “the time they went to Europe.” So, I finally went. It was a hell of a trip to be sure. All they did when they saw me was say the same thing, before they’d ever met me. “Hey cowboy, we love Texas.” I guess the hat tipped em off. But let me tell you what, they all came up with a smile on their faces. You know why? They knew for damned sure that I was gonna be nice to em. They knew it cause they knew I was from Texas. They knew something that hadn’t even hit me. They knew Texans, even though they’d never met one.

That’s when it occurred to me. Do you know what is great about Texas? Do you know why when my friend Beverly and I were trekking across country to see 15 baseball games we got sick and had to come home after 8? Do you know why every time I cross the border I say, “Lord, please don’t let me die in _____”?

Do you know why children in Japan can look at a picture of the great State and know exactly what it is about the same time they can tell a rhombus from a trapezoid? I can tell you that right quick. You. The same spirit that made 186 men cross that line in the sand in San Antonio damned near 165 years ago is still in you today. Why else would my friend send me William Barrett Travis’ plea for help in an email just a week ago, or why would Charles Stenciled ask me to reprint a Texas Independence column from a year ago?

What would make my friend Elizabeth say, “I don’t know if I can marry a man who doesn’t love Texas like I do?” Why in the hell are 1,000 people coming to my house this weekend to celebrate a holiday for what used to be a nation that is now a state? Because the spirit that made that nation is the spirit that burned in every person who founded this great place we call Texas, and they passed it on through blood or sweat to every one of us.

You see, that spirit that made Texas what it is, is alive in all of us, even if we can’t stand next to a cannon to prove it, and it’s our responsibility to keep that fire burning. Every person who ever put a “Native Texan” or an “I wasn’t born in Texas but I got here as fast a could” sticker on his car understands. Anyone who ever hung a map of Texas on their wall or flew a Lone Star flag on their porch knows what I mean.

My Dad’s buddy Bill has an old saying. He says that some people were forged of a hotter fire. Well, that’s what it is to be Texan. To be forged of a hotter fire.

To know that part of Colorado was Texas. That part of New Mexico was Texas. That part of Oklahoma was Texas. Yep. Talk all you want. Part of what you got was what we gave you. To look at a picture of Idaho or Istanbul and say, “what the Hell is that?” when you know that anyone in Idaho or Istanbul who sees a picture of Texas knows damned good and well what it is. It isn’t the shape, it isn’t the state, it’s the state of mind. You’re what makes Texas.

The fact that you would take 15 minutes out of your day to read this, because that’s what Texas means to you, that’s what makes Texas what it is. The fact that when you see the guy in front of you litter you honk and think, “Sonofabitch. Littering on MY highway.”

When was the last time you went to a person’s house in New York and you saw a big map of New York on their wall? That was never. When did you ever drive through Oklahoma and see their flag waving on four businesses in a row? Can you even tell me what the flag in Louisiana looks like? I damned sure can’t.

But I bet my ass you can’t drive 20 minutes from your house and not see a business that has a big Texas flag as part of its logo. If you haven’t done business with someone called All Tex something or Lone Star somebody or other, or Texas such and such, you hadn’t lived here for too long.

When you ask a man from New York what he is, he’ll say a stockbroker, or an accountant, or an ad exec. When you ask a woman from California what she is, she’ll tell you her last name or her major. Hell either of em might say “I’m a republican,” or they might be a democrat. When you ask a Texan what they are, before they say, “I’m a Methodist,” or “I’m a lawyer,” or “I’m a Smith,” they tell you they’re a Texan. I got nothin’ against all those other places, and Lord knows they’ve probably got some fine folks, but in your gut you know it just like I do, Texas is just a little different.

So tomorrow when you drive down the road and you see a person broken down on the side of the road, stop and help. When you are in a bar in California, buy a Californian a drink and tell him it’s for Texas Independence Day. Remind the person in the cube next to you that he wouldn’t be here enjoying this if it weren’t for Sam Houston, and if he or she doesn’t know the story, tell them.

When William Barrett Travis wrote in 1836 that he would never surrender and he would have Victory or Death, what he was really saying was that he and his men were forged of a hotter fire. They weren’t your average every day men.

Well, that is what it means to be a Texan. It meant it then, and that’s why it means it today. It means just what all those people North of the Red River accuse us of thinking it means. It means there’s no mountain that we can’t climb. It means that we can swim the Gulf in the winter. It means that Earl Campbell ran harder and Houston is bigger and Dallas is richer and Alpine is hotter and Stevie Ray was smoother and God vacations in Texas.

It means that come Hell or high water, when the chips are down and the Good Lord is watching, we’re Texans by damned, and just like in 1836, that counts for something. So for today at least, when your chance comes around, go out and prove it. It’s true because we believe it’s true. If you are sitting wondering what the Hell I’m talking about, this ain’t for you.

But if the first thing you are going to do when the Good Lord calls your number is find the men who sat in that tiny mission in San Antonio and shake their hands, then you’re the reason I wrote this tonight, and this is for you. So until next time you hear from me, God Bless and Happy Texas Independence Day.

May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings, slow to make enemies and quick to make friends. But, rich or poor, quick or slow, may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.

Regards From Texas

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.