Quotable Country – 01/12/14 Edition

Click the bullet after each quote to visit the source.

Q: Who do you think would win in a Scrabble match between you [and Edie Brickell] and fellow [Grammy] nominees Emmylou Harris/ Rodney Crowell?
A: I’m not sure about Scrabble, but in hopscotch, I don’t think it would be a contest.
– – Nice side effect of Steve Martin’s musical career: Steve Martin interviews getting published everywhere again. They’re always an entertaining read.

What I like to do as a cook is see what ingredients I have and do something with what I’ve got. That means more to me than following some recipe. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty bad at following a recipe. It’s sort of how I approach music. Give me the elements and let me put something together with what I’ve got.
– – Darrell Scott. Of course, anyone who has ever tried my peanut-butter-and-couscous sandwich on banana bread will tell you that throwing ingredients together in the right combinations requires a certain well-honed instinct that might be beyond your average cook. Or country blogger.

For me, I win in small, singer-songwriter club, small theaters. That’s my fan base. It’s a sit-down, listening crowd, and they love the storytelling part of it and all the stories behind the scenes. It’s just going where it fits you. I’m not thinking every single day about what radio station is or isn’t playing my song. I’m thinking about putting on the best show I can for the fans. It just teaches you that if you want to do this for a living, you have to keep doing it for yourself.
– – Holly Williams on finding her place.

What Guy tried to do when he got here was take the values of literature and poetry and put them in song. He didn’t want to just write a hit, he wanted to write something that had real intrinsic value, to wrestle with the human condition and come up with new ways of talking about it that would make people listen.
– – Rodney Crowell on Guy Clark.

Swift is the face of that kind of Nashville: a city that promotes self-expression and creativity, that projects wonder and ambition and decorum; a city that values intelligence and achievement; a city of kindness and inclusion; a city that looks both inward and upward, and grows upward and outward; a city concerned not merely with what music can make, but with what music can do.
– – Peter Cooper on Taylor Swift being named the 2013 Tennessean of the Year.

I’ve heard people dis that era and say the ‘90s is when country music became whatever white people listen to. But I loved that era. I think, was that music great, or was it just a formative time in my life right then? I personally think it was really great, and I feel lucky that I was influenced by it. My grandparents lived next door to us, so I know a lot of older country that a lot of people my age don’t know. But when I was in junior high and high school is when Trisha Yearwood came out, [along with] Kathy Mattea, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Suzy Bogguss, Pam Tillis, Wynonna, and my favorite, Patty Loveless. I’m just as influenced by them as Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. To me, we’re just not far enough away from the music they made to hold it in that high a regard, but to me it stands up there with that. When I made a record, I thought, I want to make a record as good as Patty Loveless’ When Fallen Angels Fly. I think the guys were making really good music then, too. We had Alan Jackson and Vince Gill and Garth [Brooks]. I think people miss that as much as they miss Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.
– – Brandy Clark on ’90s country nostalgia.

He was doing sound check and he was up on the stage testing his amp out. And I’m talking a football field away; it was far from our buses. He had his toboggan hat on and the big bug sunglasses and stuff, and somebody walked up to him and said something. He stopped playing and he turns and looks the football field away at the buses. He turns back, sets his guitar down, and starts walking, and I’m just standing there by his bus freaking out. He comes up to me and he puts his arms out and he goes. . . .“Did I shave my legs for this?” And he gave me this kiss on the mouth and gave me this big hug and we just had a moment. He turned around and went back and started doing his guitar again.
– – Deana Carter on meeting Bob Dylan.

Let’s Get Drunk (and Talk About How We’re Going to Pay the Mortgage This Month)
– – LA Weekly’s Ben Westhoff posted a list of Harebrained Ideas for Country Songs.

I have done that, you’re right, and I’m trying never to do that now. [Laughter.] I think it’s kind of limiting, and I’ve had this problem over the years, that if you do something that’s either jokey or lighthearted or has some amusing aspect to it, it’s like being a communist or going to a communist meeting in 1949—it just spreads like poison to all your other activities. [Laughter.]
– – Robbie Fulks on his habit of half-jokingly covering throwaway pop songs in concert.

To want to punch a music blogger is an inherently creditable notion. [Laughter.]
– – Robbie Fulks again. Same interview.

My father is a screen for some people to project their own ideals, their own agendas, on. And the craziest of them want to protect him from me — from what they imagine I am. Somebody tweeted just the other day: ‘When are you going to believe in Jesus? Your dad wants to see you in heaven.’ Like, they take on his voice. This happens all the time. ‘Your dad would not like what you’re doing.’ They think they’re channeling him from the grave and they know what he thinks of me. I mean, that’s a form of insanity. […] As much as my dad’s legacy is something I cherish, it’s a burden with a lot of moving parts.
– – Rosanne Cash to The New York Times.

There’s a mentality in the country music world of Nashville that says, ‘You don’t know anything, and we know how to do this.’ It’s ‘We know what’s best for you: You get to the microphone, sing what we tell you to sing, play what we tell you to play, and you’ll be fine.’ That scares people away from branching out and doing things that creatively are out of the box.
The music business establishment does not have a crystal ball. They do not know everything that they tell you they know. I’d say to any of the new people coming out, ‘Find the courage to step out and try it your way.’ Otherwise, what we get is a cookie-cutter mentality that isn’t good for artists who are having to portray themselves as something they aren’t, or that are capable of doing so much more but are being stifled.
– – Travis Tritt to Peter Cooper.

People have this relentless ongoing conversation about what’s country and what isn’t. It’s never changed. If people really really were country fans, they’d know it’s always been there, in every single decade. […] What’s great about country is its simple, organic way of absorbing pop inspirations into its sound, and pulling the genre forward. It’s been that way since the ’50s. That period, the mid-to-late ’50s, when rock ‘n’ roll exploded, it started to take over the country audience. Guys like Chet Atkins intentionally started to put string sections on country songs, which had never been done before. Everybody at the time thought that was sacrilegious – they said, “That doesn’t sound anything like Ernest Tubb. What are you doing?” But it was a way for them to keep the sound moving forward and expand the boundaries.
– – Keith Urban on the changing sounds of country, for what must seem the 4000th time.

I think country music is almost synonymous with Southern music these days. It’s not necessarily a certain twang or a certain instrument. It’s got a lot of rock, it’s got a lot of pop in it, and it’s what Southern people like. When I was working in New England in the ’90s, the guys I was working with would listen to country radio and I asked them why because I didn’t see that as a New England thing, and they said it was the closest thing they could find on the radio to blues.
– – Zac Brown Band’s John Driskell Hopkins.

Traditional country music died. I think that George Strait winning Entertainer of the Year at the CMAs was, to me, a symbolic and a real closing of the door. It was, to me, as if the industry was saying, “Thank you George for everything that you’ve meant to traditional country music.” I’m not saying George Strait won’t be played, but I’m saying I don’t think any new acts… I think people are fooling themselves if they think for a second that the recording industry is going to accept any more traditional country music on the radio. I think that is the end of a world, the end of an era.
It’s kind of like Rome. Rome has fallen [laughs]. There’s a new world and a new era. I feel like I totally accepted that. Now I’m not saying that fans are not going to continue loving traditional country music and playing it and listening to it and maybe even downloading some of it. But I don’t think you’ll see this town record what we call ‘traditional’ country music ever again. I believe that era is completely over.
– – Clay Walker.

You stand up there on 16th Avenue and it’s as dead as Kelsey’s nuts. It’s the deadest piece of sh*t on this planet. The Gaylords took a good and pure thing and turned it into a concessions stand of country music. That street should be like the French Quarter in New Orleans. There should be celebrations in the streets with music coming out of all of those houses. They should get rid of that statue at the end of the street and put up a statue of the Highwaymen.
– – In an interview with the Nashville Scene, “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife” writer and early Kristofferson co-conspirator Chris Gantry is still stirring the pot.

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  1. the pistolero says

    I daresay all of Keith Urban’s talk about genre evolution is as self-serving as that of Kenny Rogers. Why is it when people like that talk about the evolution of country, they always talk about it “evolving” away from traditional country? It’s as if they think traditional country is simplistic and outdated. Surely I’m not the only one who finds that insulting.

  2. the pistolero says

    Oh, and the thing that bothered me most about the Taste of Country bit with Clay Walker was this:

    Q: When you say that (traditional country is dead), do you say that with a sense of remorse or regret? Or is it acceptance?

    A: No. No remorse whatsoever. I think it’s the perfect evolution and it’s the way it should be. It’s time. It’s time for that change. And, albeit rough at the moment, it’s a beautiful rough.

    I mean, it’s one thing to say that the very essence of the genre is dead, but to say that the loss of that essence is “perfect” and “beautiful” is quite another. And has anyone but me noticed it’s only the B-list stars from the ’90s (Walker and Tracy Lawrence) talking like this, as opposed to heavyweights like Strait and Jackson? I have to wonder why.

  3. Chris says


    – Keith Urban has no business opining on the state of country music since he’s as big a part of the problem as he is…why can’t he just go away?

    – I hate to agree with Clay Walker but I fear I must

    – I’m 28 and the country music of the 1990s, at least until 1997 or so, was some of the greatest country music I feel that was ever made.

    – Chris Gantry’s quote made me chuckle, possibly because of his reference to the ‘Nekkid Statue’ lol

  4. Sabra says

    I have an innate distrust for lionizing the music of any one decade; it comes across as more nostalgia than anything else. For every “Outbound Plane” there was a “Did I Shave My Legs for This?”; for every “Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House” there was a “Shameless”, and apparently there is some sort of collective amnesia regarding that whole Alabama/98 Degrees collaboration. It sort of reminds me of lionizing Charlie Rich, the man responsible for “Behind Closed Doors”, as some sort of Protector of Country Music for getting drunk and burning the Entertainer of the Year Envelope.

    Still, I do think Brandy Clark is right in one sense; we had stronger female influences back in the ’90s (something I think is true regardless of genre). There were fewer interchangeable blondes back then anyway.

  5. CraigR. says

    What I miss the most about country music in the 90’s is that there was still a great of substance to be found. Clay Walker, ironically, was not a part of that. And in the 90’s they still respected the greats of country music and its history. Ask Taylor Swift or Jason Aldean to tell you something about country music history. Ask Florida Georgia Line who Ernest Tubb was. At least in the 90’s we could still connect the dots to the past. History forgotten is not repeated when it comes to country music.

    I understand Rosanne Cash’s problem. I know a great many young people who think Johnny Cash is a great idol, and project their politics on him, but know nothing more about him than ” Walk The Line” and ” Hurt”. He is more of a myth to them. Try living with and respecting a myth if you are his flesh and blood.

  6. Rick says

    It’s a shame Brandy Clark didn’t come of age in the latter half of 1980’s when the stuff they played on country radio was much better than the 90’s pop-country stuff she refers to,,,

    I’m glad that Holly Williams enjoys playing small venues and has reconciled that with her aspirations. Now if she’d just get back to a small club in Los Angeles.

    I enjoyed Chris Gantry’s rant about the current state of 16th Avenue. Now he needs to turn his attention to the present condition of Top 40 AirHead Country radio to join the chorus.


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