Quotable Country – 01/18/15 Edition

Click the bullet after each quote to visit the source.

I think that my songs keep getting simpler, and I’m trying to find the least amount of words to get across what I’m feeling. I’m definitely a better singer than I was, so that allows me to write in different formats. I’m just going with the flow of life. As long as I keep searching and staying true to myself, my songs will not necessarily advance, but they will go somewhere else. I’m willing to follow them.
— Justin Townes Earle to CMT Edge’s Brian T. Atkinson. Earle’s new album is Absent Fathers.

It’s like brainstorming, but I always say writing the song is like kissing someone. You remember the moment right before you kiss them, and then you remember later on in to the kiss, but you never really — if it’s a good kiss — you never really remember it. You’re so in the moment, you go “I don’t even know how it happened! One minute we were talking and then we were kissing.” If you’re too conscious about it, it’s not gonna be that great of a song.
— “Little Red Wagon” songwriter Audra Mae.

I’m always trying to write a great top 40 song and always failing in an interesting way.
— Interesting interviewee Jim White, whose bluegrass album with – or, rather, versus – The Packway Handle Band is Take It Like a Man.

These days, it seems that the less Tim McGraw tries to keep up with the bros, the better he fares. Sam Hunt and Cole Swindell may be growing their fanbases by letting EDM and hip-hop shape their sound more than traditional country music, but McGraw is achieving success by harkening back to his mid-90s style and taking his music in a distinctly retro direction.
— On the heels of the McGraw trendiness discussion of last week, The Guardian’s Grady Smith says: “By abandoning his attempts to keep up with the younger bro-country crew and making more traditional music, the 47-year-old has found new relevance.”

I’m still processing it, to be honest with you. It’s one of those moments in your life, and not everybody gets them, but I knew this was a once in a lifetime thing. I had my entire family with me, and it was like a giant stamp of validation from the entire music community in such a public way. It was so surreal because ninety percent of the songs I was being honored for started with just me in a room. In some ways, it felt like I walked out into a giant surprise party. It was very otherworldly.
— Gretchen Peters on her Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame induction last October. Check out a lyric video for one of the tracks on her upcoming album here.

I think people underestimate rednecks. People stereotype rednecks and small-town people the same way they might stereotype gays and lesbians, and it’s not really fair. Some of the smartest and most open-minded people I have known in my life, people would look at them and say, ‘That’s redneck.’ I’ve never felt any hatred from rednecks towards me for my sexuality.
— Brandy Clark to Rolling Stone.

I’m a big fan of really classic country music. When I hear Brandy Clark, she reminds me of what I loved about Tammy Wynette, what I loved about Loretta Lynn. They were singing about the real woman’s experience. […] Brandy Clark is an indicator that there’s some smart, talented, down-to-earth, really natural, organic artists that are still out there making music talking about the American experience or the world experience and writing about it. That always touches people. It can open the door to other artists like that so yes, this is very exciting.
— Melissa Etheridge on Brandy Clark.

“I never really won a lot of awards, but you’ll never meet a man more happy to have had a seat,” he says. “You’ll never meet someone that’s more appreciative.”
These days, the once restless Judd says, “I’m probably about as normal and peaceful as I’ve ever been… I searched for happiness my whole life in million-dollar houses and $100,000 cars, and I finally found it inside a $5 Bible. I got baptized about six months ago and I left about 49 years of misery in 3 feet of water.”
— Cledus T. Judd, announcing his retirement as a recording artist.

For a guy like me, it’s tough to be a critic because people automatically label me as a hater. That I’m just jealous because I don’t have a hit song on the radio or I’ve never won any awards. That’s not the case. The reality is [country music] has swung too far into this fake plastic place that is the antithesis of what country is. I’ve known this stuff firsthand. I’ve been out there slugging it for a while and have had many artists, without naming names, tell me, ‘We’re going to do it like you, the slow methodical way and earn one fan at a time.’ And then three months later, they’re on the top of the charts and they are everywhere — shortcuts.
— Corey Smith, whose new album Maysville in the Meantime includes a song on this topic.

There’s a handful of people in this [music] business, if they see me coming, they better turn the other direction and hope they’re faster than me. They know who they are. I come from a pretty hard knock kind of life. Growing up with my mother in the neighborhoods that I grew up in, I have to remind myself on a regular basis that I cannot stick a gun in the face of people I want to intimidate.
— Justin Townes Earle to The Daily Beast.

If any chauvinism does exist in the radio industry, the notion of making a financial profit trumps everything. It’s impossible to imagine anyone working for a major corporation sitting in a conference room and plotting a complex, dastardly plan to withhold airplay for female artists. They’re merely playing the music that’s working for them at any given moment.
— CMT.com managing editor Calvin Gilbert: “Will Country Music Remain a Boys Club?”

Go-to cover song?: ‘All About That Bass’
— Of course RaeLynn’s go-to cover song is the one Miranda Lambert also sang. Of course.

“Music Row is the very definition of a national treasure. The sounds created here have echoed throughout the country for decades, earning it an unparalleled place in America’s cultural life,” said David Brown, executive vice president and chief preservation officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “As a native Tennessean who grew up with a deep love of the sounds of Nashville, I am especially passionate about helping ensure the future of Music Row as a vibrant center of culture, economy and creativity.”
— Music Row was named a national treasure by The National Trust for Historic Preservation. So, you know, maybe they shouldn’t turn it into a bunch of awful-looking condos.

I feel like we opened up a piece of paper and traced over what was already there.
— Chase Bryant on writing “Take It On Back,” with lyrics that repeat the title 40+ times. Apparently it wasn’t hard to write. Imagine that.

When you’re in a room with him as a writer, it’s very clear that he has something in his head that’s different than anyone else. He’s creating what’s cool somehow — he’s got his own style that cannot be taught. As a producer, he has the same thing. He’s like another member of the band in there with us; it’s not just some guy who’s telling you that this is what you need to sound like.
— Old Dominion’s Matthew Ramsey on Shane McAnally.

I grew up in East Texas listening to real country music like Buck Owens and George Jones, Lefty Frizzell and Bob Wills, which is more swing, and Hank Thompson — all that kind of stuff. So I kind of had an idea of what country music was and what I wanted to do when I grew up. But when I grew up, a lot of that stuff was no longer being made in Nashville.
I followed through on my dream to go to Nashville, get a record deal and all that. But the state of things sort of dictated the direction I went. I signed a deal, I committed to making commercial records and I did the best I could. I went as far as I could. But now I’m in a place where I can do what I was born to do. This is kind of a whole new thing for me. It just makes me so happy.
— Lee Ann Womack on the long road back to The Way I’m Livin’.

They did it different. And that spirit was there, that spirit of ‘I’m gonna do my music how I want to do it and damn the consequences.’ I mean, I feel that. But I feel like the outlaw word is the low-hanging fruit that everybody goes for. When you don’t really know how to identify something, you reach for that. And that part bothers me. I mean, I love that era of music. And it’s not just the Waylons and Willies. That was a broader era than just that. But the actual name of it is something that I think gets used a lot. And misused.
— Eric Church on The Outlaws.

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  1. Anon says

    I think what Calvin Gilbert: doesn’t get is that sexism is often unconscious. He’s right in the sense that it’s not some dastardly plan, but in so many cases (not just in country music) – People are sexist without even thinking about it. So it’s not crazy to think that radio programmers are leaning towards men without meaning to.

    • says

      Bingo! And the ‘they’re only playing what people want to hear’ line doesn’t go so far with me because people tend to want to hear more of the thing they’re used to hearing. Average Joe the Passive Listener can’t even know that other stuff is out there and available unless radio exposes him to it. So you get into the whole chicken and egg bit.

      If it’s actually seen as important that sexism be addressed – and not because money can be made from it, but because it’s important in itself – the major players at conglomerated radio have plenty of power to help bring about positive change. But it’s easier to pin the whole problem and system that perpetuates it on nebulous ideas of “listener preference.”

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