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What is the best thing that’s crossed my desk this year? The image of Kenny Chesney and Willie Nelson, smiling after singing together in the studio, was tied with Jamey Johnson’s great album, That Lonesome Song. Johnson’s album contains the powerful “In Color,” a song that still makes me cry. Kenny and King George Strait’s no-frills “Shift Time” was also great. ●
– – CMT’s Hazel Smith is a profoundly confused woman. An image of Kenny and Willie – just an image! – is as good as an entire album from Jamey Johnson, and “In Color” and “Shift Time” are of equal importance even though Hazel can’t trouble herself to recall the real title of the latter song. I’m feeling a little sick to my stomach.
I’ve always loved Trisha and loved having her and Gwen in my kitchen. My son Billy, who assists me with the TV show, was so impressed when Trisha placed the dishes she used in the sink. He still talks about it. ●
– – Forgive me if I’m not impressed by the fact that a grown woman put her own dirty dishes in the sink. I hear Toby Keith recently learned how to tie his own shoes, Hazel. Better chat with him about it for next week’s Hot Dish.
[Charley Pride] was wonderful to me, introduced me to a lot of folks and let me open his show all over the world. It was a great opportunity and I kind of fell into the country thing although I was not a huge country fan growing up. And being from Northeast Texas, you’d think I would be. ●
– – Neal McCoy confirms what we already know: people who don’t like country music don’t end up making very good country music.
There were the requisite patriotic moments, beginning with “America the Beautiful.” The audience sang along, Larry Gatlin noting that a California audience was also asked to sing along.
“They didn’t know the words,” he said, then added: “It’s good to be back in America.” ●
– – Oh, har har. Good one, Larry Gatlin.
To me, I don’t call it country anymore. ●
– – Taylor Dayne reasons that it’s okay for her to go country since “country” no longer means anything anyway, which seems to me sort of like deciding that there’s no harm in dropkicking an amputee.
I’d rather sing a sad song than eat. ●
– – What a coincidence. I’d rather listen to George Jones sing a sad song than listen to him eat.
Most of them singers [in Nashville] spend three or four months in the studio. I figure anybody who would spend that much time on a record couldn’t be a very good singer. They just can’t be. If you can’t get it right quicker than that, what are you doing up on stage? ●
– – Studio time required for Wayne Hancock’s upcoming album: 2 days.
And of Taylor Swift, [Mark Chesnutt] said, “Nothing against her, but Taylor Swift is not traditional.” The singer best known for some biggies in the ’90s also admitted that “Nashville is signing the youngest kids they can, leaving a void in traditional country music,” and that to find his albums in a store, “You just have to dig behind the Kenny Chesney albums.” I always liked Chesnutt, but now that he’s taken to badmouthing other country artists, it may be a little too late and he may be a little too wrong. ●
– – Alison Bonaguro apparently believes that Taylor Swift is traditional country, radio playlists are weighted heavily toward honky-tonkin’ baby boomers, and Chesnu- does not follow Chesne- alphabetically. If you disagree with her on any of these points, you’re not just wrong but also bitter.
[Keith Urban] thanks everyone for the cards and letters from his fans — and especially one that says he’s the entertainer of the year forever and always. “Eat that, Kenny Chesney,” Urban jokes. Nothing like a little healthy competition right there in my voicemail inbox to brighten my day. ●
– – Bonaguro again. The ability to properly alphabetize makes you “bitter” but telling another singer to “eat that” is just a “joke” made in the spirit of “healthy competition.” See how that works?
Then [this sweet elderly couple I know] said they’d actually cut my Top Five Country Albums list out of the paper, and taken it with them when they went Christmas shopping this year. I was so touched, and so honored, that my story was folded up in this 82-year-old woman’s purse like a shopping list. ●
– – If you’re ever in a pinch and need a list of Bonaguro’s favorite albums to take shopping with you, just choose randomly from the first ten entries on this list.
[Haggard] gave up [pot] a few times over the years, but “nothing was funny,” he said. He quit again, four days before going under the knife on November 3, and prays that he does not lose his creative mojo. ●
– – You have to admit that “nothing was funny” is a pretty amazing reason to go back to smoking pot.
Songwriting, both in Nashville and indie country, is held in nowhere near the reverence that it once was. This isn’t just some rehash of the age-old “these damn kids today” argument – it’s bigger than that. Songwriting has gone from something that came from the heart, had thought and relevance, and actually added something to the world, to something that exists for the sole purpose of making people go “hell yeah!” It’s dumb, it’s juvenile, and it’s an insult to those who mastered the craft and those of us who strive to do so. ●
– – Roger Wallace puts a country spin on Craig Bickhardt’s “Finding the Reverence.”