Quotable Country – 02/16/15 Edition

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You know, to the country traditionalists, if you do anything that’s not pure country, you’re the devil. For us, it’s just fun to step out.
— Jason Aldean.

I don’t know what I’m going to do. I think I may not do any more Todd Snider. I might start over. I won’t pretend my name didn’t used to be Todd Snider, but I do want to put an end to that body of work. I feel it stands by itself. I want to put a period at the end of all those songs.
— Todd Snider, in an intriguing interview with The Kansas City Star.

I wasn’t dissing Merle, not the Merle I know. What I was talking about happened a long time ago, maybe in the late Sixties. Merle had that song out called ‘Fighting Side of Me’ and I’d seen an interview with him where he was going on about hippies and Dylan and the counterculture, and it kind of stuck in my mind and hurt, lumping me in with everything he didn’t like.
But of course times have changed and he’s changed too. If hippies were around today, he’d be on their side and he himself is part of the counterculture… so yeah, things change. I’ve toured with him and have the highest regard for him, his songs, his talent – I even wanted him to play fiddle on one of my records and his Jimmie Rodgers tribute album is one of my favorites that I never get tired of listening to. He’s also a bit of a philosopher. He’s serious and he’s funny. He’s a complete man and we’re friends these days. We have a lot in common.
— Bob Dylan, attempting to clarify earlier remarks.

“We wanted to play the game, we want to be a part of the team,” says Liles, “and we want to cut our friend’s songs. We want to do that.
“But with a big label,” Gunderson continues, “I don’t know if they’re pulling favors or doing favors, but you can have an amazing sounding hit song and if an outside song is as close to as good or sounds similar, they’ll usually have you pick the outside person’s song. Because ‘they’re a songwriter in this town for a reason. They’ve had this many hits, and you need to cut that, not your own.'”
— Love and Theft, speaking candidly in a Rolling Stone piece about friction with past label home RCA and a new independent direction for Whiskey on My Breath.

The other day, someone asked me what I’d like to do that I haven’t done. I said “brain surgery” and they thought I was being serious. (laughs) I said, “You don’t understand, I’m likely to do anything because I have no fear.” I don’t know if it’s a combination of having so much experience and being 50. You get to a place in your life where you go, “You know what? I’m going to get into … wrestling.” (laughs) I don’t know, what have I not done?
— Me? Oh, just eagerly awaiting Wynonna’s professional wrestling debut.

“This is the way it is – the ratio [of funerals to weddings] starts to shift and it’s just a fact of life. I think it even validated, for me, the idea of writing about this subject. I thought, ‘This is reality. This is what it is to be in your 50s and I think there must be other people that want to hear about this.’ I know I do…
“I think that music and songs can embrace any theme or any idea that you can think of, just like literature and art can. I don’t think there should be any taboo subjects.”
— Gretchen Peters (to Digital Journal) on tackling adult subject matter in song.

What doesn’t sit well with me is reacting or acting in a creative way out of fear. I mean, you just can’t. You can’t be creative when there’s fear present. … And I have found more reward artistically going right for the thing that I’m afraid of. I’ve also found that it really resonates with people, because they kinda wake up and go, “God, someone’s saying that. That’s how I feel.” I know that those people are out there because I have found them. That’s kind of my audience. … They’d like to hear about somebody else’s fears and self-doubt. There’s been reward for me in doing that.
— Gretchen Peters to Jewly Hight for CMT Edge. Peters’ exquisite new album is Blackbirds.

By the time I was 15 years old I already possessed an internal well of sorrow deep enough to draw on for the rest of my life. Not because I had an unusually unhappy childhood, but because I had a capacity for melancholy — an affinity for it. I nurtured it, I practically wallowed in it. I loved sad songs because they felt good, and I wrote them for the same reason. Catharsis is “the act or process of releasing a strong emotion (such as pity or fear), especially by expressing it in an art form.” Catharsis is what I feel every time I listen to Blue (1971) by Joni Mitchell, and it’s still what I pray for every time I sit down to write.
— Gretchen Peters, in a TalkHouse piece on the difficulties of writing an effective love song.

Well, we just grew up as old country boys, and we didn’t try to put on nothing. We sung the way we felt it and sung it the way that we thought we ought to sound. And there’s no other way I can sing.
— Ralph Stanley on the Stanley Brothers sound.

I was a solo songwriter from the beginning and wrote only two songs with Shane Walker and the Gougers. Then I got a publishing deal and had to start co-writing. It took a long time to get used to it. Then you get stuck in a rut where maybe it’s all you think you can do. Then there’s a whole other mountain to climb to get back into solo things. Now I think I have a good balance.
— Jamie Lin Wilson on songwriting alone and together.

I never felt politically constrained by being a country singer, but then I never saw myself as a country singer in the sense of… well, there was a moment where I thought that maybe I could save country music, but better people than me had tried, and anyway country music didn’t want to be saved. It’s an environment totally hostile to singer-songwriters. They hadn’t wanted anything to do with Hank Williams, and every ounce of their energy has gone into making sure another one never happens, because they can’t control it.
— Steve Earle. His new album, Terraplane, is out tomorrow.

Once you’re on the float, you’re on the float. And then I’m like, ‘Alright, don’t get drunk. Don’t get drunk. Don’t get drunk.’ And I don’t know if there’s any way around that, and then I’ve got to do the show at like 11:30PM, so man, we may have a no cell phone clause on that show, a no Youtube (video). See, first of all, I’ve never been to Mardi Gras, and I’m the worst about getting excited about something and then overdoing it. So, yeah, I’ll be toast.
— Luke Bryan, adult person.

Lee Greenwood to Release Children’s Book Based on ‘God Bless the USA’
— Of course he’s doing this. Of course The Boot is reporting on it.

Being an artist is such a narcissistic thing. I don’t like talking about myself.
— High five, Mickey Guyton.

And for me, I listened to a copy of ‘The Whippoorwill’ on vinyl and was blown away at the difference. It was full circle: Vinyl sounded like the room that we were recording in, so real and so warm and so organic. And I had spent hundreds of hours listening to mixes of the album getting it ready to release digitally, so my ears were numb to it. And then I heard the vinyl, and it came to life again. And I was like, “Oh my God, OK, the heart and soul and the mojo are in this vinyl. It hasn’t been squashed by the digital format.” And so the band kind of fell in line after me, and I don’t know, at that point maybe it was like, “Here we go, you’re jumping on the vinyl bandwagon,” but I was like, “Guys, listen to this.”
— Charlie Starr (Blackberry Smoke) on issuing new albums on vinyl too.

I know everything goes in phases. But it makes me feel good that something like this can still get recorded.
— Luke Laird on Tim McGraw single “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools,” which he co-wrote. Fun Fact: Before McGraw, the song was on hold for George Strait.

I guess what you are concerned about with that is you don’t want to chase off your younger demo. So we try to be very selective of the classic tunes that we play. Obviously if we go back too far, it might not be beneficial to the younger demo. But we research, we are consulted, and we try to pick out those humongous country classics that most everybody is familiar with or at least heard.
— Veteran radio talent Philip Gibbons on his daily “Classic Country Cafe” segment. Wouldn’t want to expose any young listeners to classic country they haven’t already heard, would we?

“The girls … are off chasing their own dreams and I’m gonna be the guy that gets to eat Taco Bell at three in the morning and get to go tour again,” Brooks, 53, says with a laugh.
— You guys, Garth Brooks THINKS OF EVERYTHING IN TERMS OF FOOD. It’s troubling.

Initially, we pitched ‘The Thunder Rolls’ to Tanya Tucker, and she recorded it. We thought it might be on her greatest hits album and have a million sales. Fifty or 60 million copies later, I’m glad she didn’t come out with it.
— Songwriter (and Garth collaborator) Pat Alger.

He then broke into an Eminem-style strut with one hand constantly waving over and around his naughty bits, as sampled beats blasted out of the house P.A. system.
The reliance on prerecorded music was a sign that perhaps Hunt’s management didn’t expect this tour to be as big as it is, either: The touring band is just two guitarists and a drummer, and all the invisible instruments and taped backup vocals used to fill out the sound made for a confusing live experience.
— Washington Post: “For country singer Sam Hunt, onstage growing pains.”

Country music has always been diverse. With all the pop country happening now, people are worried it’s not country. But I go back to a time in the 1980s with Eddie Rabbitt and Conway Twitty singing songs that were very pop. At that time people were saying the same kind of thing. Now we look back and think of those guys as pure country.
Twenty-five years from now people will look at Florida Georgia Line and ‘bro-country’ and think how country that was.
— Frankie Ballard, winning zero fans.

[Songs are] like your kids. For a record, you can’t take all your kids on vacation. You’ve got to find out which ones to leave behind. You might have four ballads, but you can’t put four ballads on a record, so you have to leave one out. You just hope it can hang around for the next round.
— Thomas Rhett, giving a disturbing glimpse into his thoughts on child-rearing.

I think over the course of time we’ve learned that we can come up with a great melody just with a G, C, and D chord. We’ve actually had about five hits with songs that only had two chords in them. “Boys Around Here” has two chords. The entire song is A and D, over and over and over. “Gimme That Girl” is two chords. “All About the Night” is two chords. “Barefoot and Crazy” is two chords. “All Over Me” by Josh Turner is two chords. The only reason that the records have three chords in them is because I think the producers cannot stand the fact that this song has two chords (laughs). So, they inserted a third chord in the solo or somewhere to change it up a little bit. We’ve come up with killer melodies over what little we’re capable of playing a lot of times.
— Peach Picker Rhett Akins, who must have saved a bundle on vacations by using specious logic to justify leaving young Thomas at home all the time.

Listen to the top 10 country songs on the radio right now. Every song is about how we roll, how we ride, how we do it in our town. Everything is the same.
When you hear a song like that, it’s just not something that makes you pull over on the side of the road and think about life.
— Aaron Watson. His new album, out tomorrow, is The Underdog.

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  1. the pistolero says

    Country music has always been diverse.


    Sorry, that sort of crap just really grinds my gears anymore.

  2. Michael A. says

    Tucker’s version of “The Thunder Rolls” was eventually released on her 1994 box set. That collection also included her versions of “Same Old Story” (also recorded by Brooks), “Your Love Amazes Me” (John Berry) and “Just About Now” (Faith Hill). All were pretty good.

  3. andythedrifter says

    Ugh, the Jason Aldean quote at the top gets my blood boiling.

    The biggest strawman put forth by the mainstream country apologists is the insinuation that those of us who are unhappy with mainstream country’s current direction are all stodgy, unreasonable purists who forever want the genre to sound exactly like it did in the ’50s and ’60s. Virtually no one thinks like this. Most of us have zero issue with innovation and pushing boundaries as long as it is done for artistic reasons and expands existing country tradition rather than supplanting it. We would also like there to be balance and diversity in terms of what kinds of music get airplay and receive mass exposure.

    I deeply love all kinds of traditional country, but I also like tons of country music that could never be mistaken as traditional. I don’t dislike Jason Aldean’s music because it’s not “pure country”. I dislike it because it’s crassly commercial and not very good.

  4. CraigR. says

    Wow. First Andy I agree with everything you said about Jason Aldean. Well said. As for Love and Theft, they may have wanted to record their friend’s song but judging from their cd their friend is a crappy writer too. But Gretchen Peters’s cd is great. Well written and well sung. And sadly few people will get to hear it. Sam Hunt is out of his league. He’s not country. He is not good enough for pop. And he looks like he is dressed for a frat party. I don’t think Hank would have done it this way. And did I mention his music is kissing cousins with Aldean’s?


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