It’s about the song, silly.
As you delve ever deeper into the wide world of music, you tend to forget. You get so caught up in loving (or hating) an artist that it becomes more about their personality, their image, and what they represent than about the songs they sing. Or you go all music stats nerd, get so personally invested in guessing what will or won’t become a hit based on complicated rationales involving recent chart precedents, label politics, and time of year and phases of the moon that you become insufferable at cocktail parties. Or maybe you get so fed up with waiting to hear better sounds on the radio that you toss the baby out with the bathwater, get “F**k Nashville” tattooed across your forehead and decide that all good music comes from burly bearded guys in woodsheds.
And you’re wrong. Regardless of which way you go, you’re wrong.
Thanks to friend of the site Ken Morton Jr., I spent last night listening to acoustic sets from a dozen singer-songwriters ranging from Rhett Akins and Thomas Rhett to Jason Eady and Erin Enderlin. (That is, literally, from “AM Country Heaven” to “Parking Lot Party.” I’m guessing this particular constellation of performers has not been and will not be replicated.) To say nothing of the many other welcome surprises, familiar radio songs heard in original writer versions included “Neon,” “Cop Car,” “Chainsaw,” “Wake Up Lovin’ You,” “Better Dig Two,” “Last Call,” “A Woman Like You,” “Get Me Some of That,” “Boys ‘Round Here,” “When She Says Baby,” “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” “One in Every Crowd,” “Rewind,” “Pour Me,” “‘Round Here,” and “Even If It Breaks Your Heart”
And you know what? They were all good. Some lyrics and voices held up better than others, certainly. Some were more my taste, others less. But stripped of artifice and distracting production touches, with not a smoke machine or a publicity flack in sight, the elemental appeal of most everything became clear. Rhett Akins connected, and so did Jason Eady. Erin Enderlin’s “Last Call” hushed the crowd in reverent silence, sending us all reeling off into our own regrets, while “Boys ‘Round Here” prompted a singalong that united us in celebration. Celebration of what, exactly? Not chewing tobacco and spitting, I don’t think. No, celebration of the fact that here were all these people from different walks of life, people who might not necessarily see eye to eye on much of anything else but did all know the words to this one goofy song and want to sing it together. That’s something.
Like a night at the Bluebird Cafe transplanted to a Sacramento golf course, it was a four-hour testament to the power of song and the various ways it can affect us. A case for why it matters.
Day 2 of KNCI’s Golf & Guitars at Haggin Oaks is the main children’s charity concert, featuring more mainstream hits performed (this time) by the acts who popularized them – Montgomery Gentry, David Nail, Craig Campbell, etc. A full report on that and the event as a whole should be forthcoming.