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I can’t conceptualize or mentally take in what everybody’s advice is, or what radio wants to hear, or what the fans want to hear, or what I think the critics want. When I go into the studio, for as much as I possibly can, it’s about putting blinders on and going in and making music that makes me feel something, and stuff that I want to do at the time. All that other stuff, I’m not really an artist anymore if I start taking too much of that in. ●
– – Tim McGraw on the uncompromising artistic vision that leads him to record songs like “Right Back Atcha Babe” and “Truck Yeah.”
I must have heard this song hundreds of times (and produced a creditable version too, I must say), but it wasn’t until I was listening to it on Elizabeth Cook’s morning show the other day that it dawned on me — the character never in the action of the song actually says the words, “Take this job and shove it.” He just fantasizes that he’s brave enough to say it. Am I the last person to realize, and puzzle over, this cowardly guy? Why were the verses of the song written to bend the narrative this way and contradict the fist-pumping chorus spirit? ●
– – Robbie Fulks wonders about “Take This Job and Shove It.”
The whole hat thing was because they told me to take it off. I hardly ever wore a hat. But they told me to take it off, so I wore it every day, everywhere I went, for 10 years! (laughs) There is always a committee to tell you what to do. But until what I do doesn’t work anymore, let’s not try to fix me. […] I think it wasn’t until they blew out that part of the label, and those people stopped talking to me, to where I came in without a hat. (laughs) Just as long as nobody’s going to tell me I have to do it, I’ll do it. ●
– – Gary Allan on the contrarian spirit that led him to wear, and then stop wearing, a cowboy hat.
On this record, I really wanted to make an album for the fans and for the fans that listen to country music today and country radio, the way the music is now. ●
– – Randy Houser finds the exact right combination of words to make me less interested in his new album.
Jesus, I’d have to be pretty stupid to not appreciate how well things have turned out in my life. Looking back to when I was playing football and boxing and doing stuff I shouldn’t been doing according to my physical limitations, it all was a wonderful experience. I’m just glad that I had the audacity to follow my heart everywhere it wanted to go, and it always worked. ●
– – Kris Kristofferson.
My mentor used to say “creativity is an act of courage.” So the whole journey is about continuing to learn and push yourself and being open. I think it’s important to remember that this is supposed to be fun. I think in the race to learn the craft and study the business, I would just remind you to have fun. It’ll connect you more to the music and ideas. It’ll be fresher, and that will lead to good things. ●
– – Barry Dean, co-writer of “Pontoon.”
I can honestly say that I haven’t punched anybody in over a year [laughs]. I’m on a roll! […] You know getting out of the club scene and stuff has helped a little bit. And being sober has helped a little bit too, I would imagine. ●
– – Just in case you had forgotten, Brantley Gilbert fancies himself a tough guy.
In the opening verses, Paisley notes that not everybody everywhere is devoted to church, NASCAR, or gun-ownership, all signifers of real Americanness familiar from country songs and Republican politicking. The twist: Paisley doesn’t than flatter his audience that anyone not holding to these rural/suburban American traditions is failing to honor this best of all possible lifestyles. Instead, he insists that such beliefs can be nourished by exposure to other ways of living, that by daring to leave his “southern comfort zone” he not only got to see the world but that he also learned to appreciate where he’s from all the more. ●
– – The Village Voice’s Alan Scherstuhl on the transgressiveness of “Southern Comfort Zone.”
The difference between Taylor Swift and what I do is like the difference between The Bourne Identity and Hud: It’s too slow, too black-and-white, too much dialogue. They’re like, ‘When’s someone going to shoot someone in the face?’ ●
– – Punk-rocker gone throwback country singer Daniel Romano, whose new album is Come Cry With Me.
Very few people get the easy hand up in this business. Those ‘big breaks’ are really pretty rare, and now I understand that. Taylor Swift’s daddy runs the biggest trucking company in the country, so when they wanted to help her career, they up and moved to Nashville and made it happen. Not that she isn’t talented, but most people don’t have that option. It’s always a struggle for a roots musician. ●
– – JP Harris, who made our list of 21 Albums That Kept Traditional Country Music Alive in 2012.
I think (superstardom) was more important to other people than it was to me. It never really was about the glitter and the glamor and the spotlight and all that stuff. For me, it was always about the music, and I always wanted to do really good songs people could relate to and songs that meant something to me. I was lucky enough to make some music; I never was a superstar, and I think a lot of people thought I was going to. Had that come along, it would have been nice, but it’s not something I lose a lot of sleep over. ●
– – Con Hunley, who had a string of moderate country hits in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
I think the format is much more aligned with a wider sonic landscape that is much better suited to New York than past eras. Whether it’s music’s biggest stars such as Taylor, Tim McGraw and Rascal Flatts or the new guard of The Band Perry, Brantley Gilbert and Florida Georgia Line, I think we’re more ready than ever to take on the Big Apple. ●
– – Scott Borchetta on country radio’s return to New York. Curiously, his list of music’s biggest stars includes only artists signed to his own labels…
I was trying to pitch him my best ideas and he just looked up at me, and said ‘Tell me about you.’ So, I started to tell him about myself, about my dad dying, and told him all these things, and at the end, I said, ‘But, look, I turned out like a rose.’ I don’t know why I said that, I guess it was a nervous way to wrap up my story. He looked at me and said, ‘Well, why don’t we just write that.’ ●
– – Ashley Monroe on writing “Like a Rose” with Guy Clark.
I always get thrown when people say, ‘I did the country thing.’ I’m like, ‘Well, that’s like saying I did the brain surgeon thing.’ Either you’re a brain surgeon, or you’re not. ●
– – Keith Urban isn’t a big fan of country-come-latelys.