Quotable Country – 03/01/15 Edition

Click the bullet after each quote to visit the source.

I don’t think decision makers on Music Row, in private, think that country radio is going to continue to matter in 10 or 20 years.
— Richard Lloyd, Associate Professor of Sociology at Vanderbilt University, to Rolling Stone.

“If those three chains don’t play your records, you won’t have a hit,” Curb Records chief Mike Curb tells Rolling Stone Country. “And today there isn’t any real firewall between radio and [major labels] . . . There are weeks when a company like Universal can have half the records on the chart. It’s an environment now. I mean, we’ve really, really been let down by our government.”
— Mike Curb on media conglomeration. This and the preceding quote come from Adam Gold’s hearty, essential Rolling Stone feature on “Why Country Radio Still Matters.”

I don’t have anything against the Bro-Country thing. Some of those songs are pretty cool. I think I wish the mainstream music world would be a little more open-minded to artists that have different styles. If I was to critique the mainstream scene it would be, “You know guys, it’s pretty narrow minded to expect every artist to write that kind of song, or sing that way, or dress that kind of way.” I mean, do we really just want one flavor of jelly here? Can we have a few other flavors?
— Aaron Watson to Saving Country Music.

I think that’s A: It’s a very inaccurate statement. And B: I think Gary Overton is saying that because this week is the big CRS week in Nashville, so maybe he was saying that because every country radio show has shown up in Nashville this week. But I would also say, “My name is Aaron Watson. I’m not played on country radio. And I have the #1 record in country music this week. I do exist. And I also run a multi-million dollar business that employs up to 20 people.” And I would also say that for a little family in Abilene, TX, they think their daddy is the best country singer since Hank Williams. So I do exist. I just think that’s a very narrow-minded way of looking at things.
— Aaron Watson (to Saving Country Music again), responding sensibly to Gary Overton’s “If you’re not on country radio, you don’t exist” statement picked up in last week’s edition of Quotable Country.

I heard that a Nashville executive made a comment during the Country Radio Seminar last week that “if it’s not played on country radio, it doesn’t exist”. When I look at the list of artists that I just came up with off of the top of my head from music that I listen to often, I just can’t help but laugh at the short sightedness of a comment like that. Some of those artists certainly do exist and will sell 20 million records/downloads/friends/etc. and other artists on that list MOST CERTAINLY EXIST and will not sell a single record/download/friend/etc… I have had points in my career where I have been played often on the radio. In fact, I believe one of my singles was one of the most played songs on the radio for an entire year! I have also had moments of my career where my songs were not played much at all over the airwaves. My music existed at every moment! You can believe that.
— Jack Ingram, equally sensibly.

Well Mr. “I have a job today but as soon as Florida/Georgia line goes out of style,and believe me dumbass they will,you will not exist”. Saying that music does not exist unless it’s on the radio is like saying you don’t exist because you never got laid until you got your two week job as the head of Walmart Records. I probably have a bigger house than you.
— Charlie Robison, a little less sensibly.

Lost a lot of respect for a great songwriter @CharlieRobison today. The country music community has always been about respect and support.
May we never live in bitterness towards the ever evolving genre that’s been so good to us.
@CharlieRobison ps our amazing and loyal fans won’t ever let us go out of style. #fgl4life
— Florida Georgia Line, taking umbrage at being mentioned in Robison’s rant.

“We spent a lot of nights on a very, very small stage in front of about 20 people, dreaming of being in Madison Square Garden one day,” Hubbard said.
As if to express their wonderstruck feeling about that dream becoming a reality, the duo dove into “Dayum, Baby”…
— From a CMT.com review of Florida Georgia Line’s show at Madison Square Garden.

And I don’t want to get too intellectual on you or anything, but music is not binary. There’s nothing on/off or black/white about it. It’s in every literal way I can come up with, the opposite of binary. It’s ambiguity made beautiful. Gray areas are the only areas. Music is close to God because it’s not about quantity or winning. I don’t disdain music business one bit; I recognize it as a gigantic and historic accomplishment that spurred genius. It has been that way in country music, but it ain’t that way now. I think that’s more than a shame. It’s a crack in our foundation. it’s a tumor in an otherwise healthy, vibrant Music City.
— The estimable Craig Havighurst on Overton and more: “Country Radio, On or Off.”

Two years ago, Stapleton was unveiled as an artist to the crowd at this same annual showcase, and he got an ovation then, too, but it’s taking this long to finally get a freshman album out… which Universal’s people swear is imminently on the horizon for 2015.
One thing we can say almost for sure: “Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore” won’t be one of the singles, unless we somehow time-travel back to the Carter Family era. But with whatever single does get the push, it’ll be interesting to see if the radio programmers who keep giving him ovations can put their money where their feet is and make Stapleton a star.
— Chris Willman for RAM Country, in an article that marvels at both the abundance of talent on display at Universal Music Group’s CRS showcase AND the fact that so little of the enthusiasm exhibited by radio folk at such schmooze-fests translates into actual airplay.

“I’ve had people say Eric Paslay/She Don’t Love You is a career song, but we can’t play it because ballads kill format.” RJ Curtis #CRS2015
— @RossOnRadio, tweeting from the Country Radio Seminar.

A country assistant PD/music director who works for one of the big three radio chains says, “For many of us, we don’t have the approval to just play a record we love. It is the bane of corporate radio.” She says that just a few years ago, her station would have easily added an artist like [Brandy] Clark following an attention-grabbing awards show performance. Now, however, “We can’t do that anymore.
“We were much better [music] champions several years ago,” she says. “Not so much today. But then … we had the freedom to add songs without corporate oversight. It is my hope that radio can get back to that and programmers can find artists that they believe are deserving of airplay.”
— Phyllis Stark for Billboard: “Why Must Country Singles Be ‘Worked’ To Be Played?”

I hope it will be like a cousin — not a twin brother or sister. One of the reasons people like Alan [Jackson] have such long careers is they’re true to themselves, and they don’t stray too far from that. That’s what I hope to do.
— Brandy Clark on how her second album will compare to her first.

“She’s a beacon! I don’t know if Americana music would exist without her. I came to her via Gram Parsons, through their collaborations then her records.
“They deeply affected me. When I started in clubs aged 18 and 19 I was singing her songs, and when I started to write I wrote like those I admired and those on her albums, like Rodney Crowell.
“It’s a big continuum and she’s definitely the centre-piece.”
— Gretchen Peters on Emmylou Harris.

The blues is the same as anything else. It’s about empathy. Any kind of songwriting is about empathy. Songs work because people hear you talking about things that happened to you but they have some experience of their own that they can relate to. That’s the only time it works.
— Steve Earle.

You know, we go years and write stuff that’s not really working for the market, and then there’s years that at the time, what we’re writing intersects and goes right down the middle of the market, and I think that’s kind of where I am right now. There’ll be some point in time when nobody will give a crap about anything I write. I know that. It happens to every writer, no matter who you are. I know that’ll happen someday to me, too, so I’m just trying to enjoy it right now, as much as I can.
— Songwriter Rodney Clawson, whose No. 1 hits last year included “American Kids,” “Dirt,” “Burnin’ It Down,” “Helluva Life,” “Lettin’ The Night Roll” and “Bartender.”

Watching Isbell’s five-piece, I felt like I’d mistakenly stumbled upon some sad, parodic performance art piece about the death of rock. The bassist had on a suit and a ridiculous retro-hat; he looked like a conservative news commentator trying to imitate Sonny Boy Williamson. The drummer had a silly hat too, and banged away with the womp! womp! womp! here-comes-the-beat-womp! lack of subtlety I’ve come to expect from alt country drummers. The songs were hookless, twangy jam-band mush; a John Cougar Mellancamp anthem would have been a relief. I’ll admit that Isbell’s between-song patter was entertaining enough, but really the only true moment of enjoyment I got in the whole three hours plus was when he looked out in the audience and declared, in the immortal words of every tired road band ever, “Are you feeling good tonight, Chicago!”
— Know how you secretly assume that there’s some music so obviously superior that EVERYONE must admire it? Afraid not. Some guy attended a Jason Isbell show with his wife and then wrote stuff.

Bentley remembers his first goal when he moved to town was just to play the “Grand Ole Opry.” He visualized it. He made Grand Ole Opry general manager Pete Fisher’s name the password on his computer so that every time he logged on, he typed Fisher’s name.
— “Pete Fisher” as incantation? Fun tidbit on Dierks Bentley from The Tennessean.

Even a song like ‘Tour Song’ offers a very extreme perspective. There are definitely a lot of true moments in that song. But it’s like a window you’re peeking into for maybe one hour of the day. It’s a pretty bleak perspective, I think, and that’s not always the way I feel.
In songwriting, you have to kind of focus in and explore one emotion. It would be silly to write a song that was more true to life in which you said, ‘I feel bad sometimes, then I feel okay sometimes, but I feel good other times.’
— Robert Ellis on songwriting’s tendency to isolate and magnify particular emotions.

They have the audacity to keep me from selling to a developer so I can better my life? They’re making my property worthless. And for what? Because of a stupid country song, now it’s the Taj Mahal?
If there’s history, put a plaque in the front yard and call it a day. These legends wouldn’t have put two toes in this neighborhood 20 years ago. It was dangerous to walk your dog. Now it’s a historic treasure?
— Seller whose buyers backed out of a $800,000 property deal when Nashville’s Metro Planning Commission placed a moratorium on new development along Music Row.

‘“In five years’ time she’ll be so afraid of everything, she doesn’t leave her house,”’ she says, laughing self-mockingly. ‘“She’s just surrounded by cats. So many cats, they’ve divided themselves up into armies and she wanders around lint-rolling the couch that no one’s going to sit on because she’s afraid to have people over…”’
— Taylor Swift on Taylor Swift’s future.

I know those things were regarded as clown suits at one point, but they seemed to me to be wearable art. They were an important piece of American culture, one of the most original fashion statements American culture has made.
— Marty Stuart on Nudie suits.

We’d love to help [increase the representation of women on radio]! But we want it to be because our music is good, not just because someone says “We need to play more girls.”
— Maddie & Tae’s Maddie Marlowe to All Access.

Gene Watson rules!
— Out-of-the-blue comment by Marlowe in same Q&A. First Gene Watson shout-out by a new artist since, uh, possibly Joe Nichols way back when? This makes her my new favorite person.

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  1. the pistolero says

    ps our amazing and loyal fans won’t ever let us go out of style.

    Not to compare bro-country and the Urban Cowboy thing, but I’m sure that Mickey Gilley and Johnny Lee thought the same thing in 1981.

    • Erik North says

      Actually, I personally believe that the Urban Cowboy types knew that theirs was something of a fad (which it was, let’s be fair). I don’t think them (sic) Florida-Georgia Line boys, however, are thinking realistically about their fans. Nothing (good or bad) lasts forever.

  2. says

    Not to be a total cynic, but I highly suspect that FGl couldn’t name 3 Charlie Robison songs off the top of their heads. So, to say that they lost a lot of respect for a great songwriter sounds disingenuous. Then again, they must believe that he does exist, if they bothered to respond to his criticism of them….

    I’m starting to become impressed with Mattie and Tae…or at least have a lot of hope for them:)

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