Click the bullet after each quote to visit the source.
I’m hardly an expert, because I haven’t been there for a long time. But the [Portable] People Meter ratings methodology [of terrestrial radio] punishes unfamiliar music, by and large. That’s my understanding. So radio used to be an active medium, and now it’s turned into more of a passive medium. ●
— SiriusXM tastemaker John Marks on terrestrial radio.
Heard today, though, what the full-on novelty of “Bird of Paradise” most clearly reveals is that Dickens’ earlier hits weren’t novelties at all so much as humorously recalled slices of life—what country historian Bill C. Malone has called the “comic re-creation of experiences that were often painful.” “Take an Old Cold Tater (and Wait),” after all, was just what country boys and girls endured while the grownups ate supper. “A-Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed” was where the young’uns inevitably wound up squeezed when company stayed the night. “Out Behind the Barn” was where farm kids got their hides tanned by their pappies. Dickens’ funny backward glances were almost always toward pasts that were funny only in hindsight. His music let the increasingly middle-class-and-citified country audience measure just how much better off they were now than then. ●
— David Cantwell (writing for Slate) on Little Jimmy Dickens. Good read.
I don’t play to [trends] because I’ve been around long enough that I have seen quite a few come and go. But I’m influenced by the things that I hear — whether I’m driving 16-year-olds to cheerleading practice or listening to radio, country or even classic rock. As an artist you ebb and flow all the time. I don’t really pay that much attention, though, to trends. ●
— Tim McGraw, who has apparently forgotten half of his recent singles, on trends.
Jamey came over through a mutual friend, clean cut at the time, and he just wanted me to do a demo. He sat down and sang — it’s funny, because at the time I wasn’t in town long enough to know how great he was. I just thought, “Oh, I’m in Nashville, everybody sings this well.” He did a song and then asked me to do the record [They Call Me Country]. We did it low-budget and became really good friends through the process. We started to get feedback from people and it went from there. Sometimes I’ll have a drink and listen back [to that LP] and think, “Man, we were kind of ahead of our time.” […] I’ve always been a huge fan of Jamey and his talent and he’s one of those guys that, no matter whom he may have distressed relationships with, we are all a huge fan of his artistry. I’d say to him, my only disappointment is if he participated a little more in the format, he might be a little bit more of a champion, and change things. But he also may have a master plan in mind. ●
— Producer Dave Brainard, in a nice Rolling Stone feature on his work with Jamey Johnson, Brandy Clark, Jerrod Niemann, and Ray Scott.
If you count Taylor Swift as a country artist who’s simply deviated into pop music with her newest album, 1989, then country music sold pretty well last year. ●
— Taylor Swift’s sales numbers still come in handy when tallying up 2014 in country music.
I also love that he’s good enough of a songwriter to create this whole character of Gary Floater. The gag is that the songs are supposed to be bad, but they can’t be all that bad if they’re constructed so well. Owen and Adam are doing it as a goof, but that speaks volumes about the caliber of their writing. I know artists in the scene who would be lucky to have some of the songs that Gary “wrote.” ●
— Matt Hillyer (Eleven Hundred Springs) on fellow Texan artist Owen Temple.
He suffered from depression. His father was abusive. And I want them to see that what went into making this guy one of the greatest singers was a lot of that pain. But a lot of that pain and melancholy also caused a lot of his problems. They didn’t have the knowledge back then to know how to deal with it. It was more of a moral dilemma. It’s not to set the story straight. George did some bad things sometimes, and I’m not excusing him. But there’s a better way to go about it than, “Here’s another crazy story.” I was drawn to country music because of some of that. I related to it. But with George, I kept saying that if he was the greatest country music singer of all time, why aren’t we focusing more on that? ●
— Hit songwriter Odie Blackmon (to Saving Country Music) on the George Jones course he teaches at Middle Tennessee State University.
Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley perform the same ritual before every concert—they gather friends, family, band and crew into a circle, then say a prayer and a chant before adding one final flourish. “We usually take a shot of Fireball,” says Hubbard. Adds Kelley: “Saturday night, maybe another shot.”
Why? Because as one of the duo’s songs goes: “It’z Just What We Do.” Over the past three years Florida Georgia Line and its boozy, genre-bending brand of country (Lynyrd Skynyrd meets late-90s hip-hop) has propelled it from utter anonymity to mainstream stardom. ●
— Those Florida Georgia Line guys were named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Music.
MARTINA FUN FACT: If I could find ONE @gretchenpeters song that mentions Fireball and sugar shakers, I’d be all set for this next album. ●
— Drunken Martina gave Gretchen Peters a writing assignment. Peters answered the call.
Gary [Harrison] gave me an epiphany with that song: Get them a good, kick-ass chorus, and you can write whatever you want to in the verses. ●
— Matraca Berg on co-writing “Wild Angels” for Martina McBride.
The result? One epic mashup. What the songs lack in diversity they make up for in infectious melodies and catchy hooks, and country fans know there’s nothing wrong with that. We just wish you could buy this on iTunes! ●
— Taste of Country, seeming to completely (and predictably) miss the point of that purportedly ‘mind-blowing’ country song mashup that’s been going around.
When I was a kid, my mom gave me a book called ‘Arabian Nights,’ and I wrote the song just from information I learned outta that book. You know, the book talked about Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves and ‘open sesame’ and, you know, all the fun stuff that is in that book. And so I thought, I’ll write a [song] about this guy, and he’s messing around with one of the Sultan’s girls in the harem. There’s nothing racist about it. ●
— Ray Stevens on how “Ahab the Arab” is not at all racist.
I’m so focused on making an album. I don’t care that technology tells us that albums are a thing of the past. That is b.s. They are more valuable now than they’ve ever been to the future of music, to the health of music. Because going forward, there’s no way we end up having artists unless we go back to the album format, the entire body of work.
I liken it to when you sit down to read a book. You don’t read one chapter. You read the whole book. It’s about every chapter. That’s how you understand what the book’s about, that’s how you become a fan of the book.
Same thing with music. You can’t hear one song, you can’t get a 99-second sound bite, and understand the artist, or be a fan of the artist, other than for just for that moment. That frenetic way of what we’ve turned music into, with digital technology, I’m so against that. ●
— Eric Church on being an album artist.
If I tell people that I do country music, it gives people the totally wrong idea. So, now I tell them I do Ameripolitan, and I like to look at the blank look on their face. ●
— Dale Watson.
I know so many people here and really there isn’t a real artistic community anymore other than Nashville. Since the social networks have become so big, people aren’t interacting with people much, but here you can still get people to interact with you. People will hang out.
Since L.A. and New York and these places aren’t centers for music anymore, Nashville has become it for all kinds of music, which is the good news. It feels like people are creating here and it inspires you. ●
— Billy Bob Thornton on Nashville. Speaking of community, Jamey Johnson and Chris Stapleton showed up at his recent Nashville show, leading to this awesome photo.
Because playlists are so small and probably most of those artists are male, that’s not speaking to everyone. It’s wild. When I was having my radio heyday, female artists were a big deal because we were speaking to women. I don’t know how it got so turned upside down. There are fantastic women artists right now like Brandy Clark and Sarah Darling who have careers but are getting zero exposure in radio. ●
— Pam Tillis on the lack of radio support for female artists.
Q: Who would you say is the biggest innovator in country music right now?
A: I would say, collectively, it’s the women. Kacey’s a great example; Miranda, I think, too. Eric Church, even though he’s not a woman. Honestly, the really good records are coming from women. Ashley Monroe, Angaleena Presley, the Pistol Annies. Great records. ●
— Brandy Clark got THIS close to calling Eric Church a woman. Dagnabbit.
Let’s say you’re job is eating ice cream, OK. And your boss goes, ‘Hey, you’re gonna have to pull a double shift tonight.’ That’s it. It’s like you get to do it twice, which is fun. You give everything you’ve got and when the second show comes around, something happens and you just get all this new energy for the second show. ●
— Garth on performing live. He really likes food analogies.
Our first podcast has been downloaded 50 times and led to 0 death threats so far. Not too shabby!