Quotable Country – 03/17/13 Edition

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We’re in an industry where it’s 999 nos for every one yes. They say you have to develop a thick skin. We all develop ways to pretend we have a thick skin. I mean, I’ve been doing this for longer than 30 years. I sent a batch of songs the other day to the powers-that-be, and I didn’t get a response. I’m heartbroken. It’s like, “I guess I suck.” You never develop a thick skin.
– – Gary Burr, hit songwriter and one-third of the Blue Sky Riders.

Maybe they can just see in my eyes and voice that there’s an oldness in me, and a passion for music that other people with that same passion can see.
– – Ashley Monroe on her habit of attracting heavyweight collaborators like Vince Gill and Guy Clark.

A lot of times it goes back to who you are and what you did first. You can do that as an adult. You can do all those different things and kind of morph your musicianship, but there really is an element of ‘who are you?’ and ‘where did you come from?’ And what meant everything to you musically when you were 15 years old?
It’s never going to go away and that’s at the core of your musical self. Even as a professional musician, you can never re-create that feeling you get as a teenager that captivates you and sets you on the path. Even if you’re not a musician, if music just meant that much to you as a listener, if it ever grabs you in those formative years, what you are during that time will always be there. It’s a well that you can always return to.
– – Grascals banjoist Kristin Scott Benson on the persistence of formative influences.

I think your shelf life as a songwriter is longer in Nashville than it is in L.A. A lot of the top songwriters right now are mid-50s and up, and I like that, being 44 years old. I was like, ‘How long am I going to want to be playing the pop game in L.A?’ I don’t want to be 50 and wearing increasingly silly tennis shoes, and saying, ‘Dude, dope beat.’
– – Better Than Ezra’s Kevin Griffin on finding a home in Nashville. He co-wrote “Stuck Like Glue.”

But I always try to put a sunny outlook on things even when it seems impossible. That’s the basis of a lot of blues songs. You’re purging your soul, but you’re hoping for better times. People can relate to that. The world isn’t always win-win, falling in love and having a big family. Sometimes you go through several pairs of shoes before you find the right one that fits you.
– – Wayne Hancock to CMT’s Chris Parton.

I’ve never had a wreck but I kind of bump into things a lot. My husband has had backup cameras installed on my car. I had to get him to replace the bumper because I backed into a telephone pole.
– – Maybe Carrie Underwood should let Jesus drive.

The idea of putting on all those sequins and walking out onstage and rebooting my singing voice—that seemed exciting. There’s something really great, once you hit 40, about taking on something that genuinely, fully flexes new and different muscles. Because, man, is it scary. It’s more than twice as scary as when you do it when you’re 20.
– – Connie Britton on the challenge of portraying Rayna Jaymes on “Nashville.”

When she comes back I never know what’s going to be in the car. I can tell you — I’m not kidding when I say 20, maybe 25, maybe 30 times — she’s come home from the grocery store and there will either be a dog or a cat in her car. And they’re not always puppies, it might be a big a** pitbull in there and I’m going, ‘What the hell, you can’t just …’ ‘Well, it licked me so it was nice,’ and I say ‘Yeah, but you don’t know if it has rabies or what.’
– – Blake Shelton on Miranda’s habit of bringing home strays.

I think it’s crazy the way people try to label our genre. My Dad always said, ‘There’s an ass for every seat.’ That just means there’s something out there for everybody. Not everyone goes into the store and buys vanilla ice cream. Some people like chocolate chip, some people like chocolate mint, some people like Rocky Road. It’s still ice cream though. You can find what you want. I think people start labeling what is and what isn’t country, or what is and what isn’t rock and roll, or why this is a sell-out sort of a town, or whatever. Everybody has their own path.
– – Jake Owen. On the other hand, it’d be pretty disappointing if your favorite ice cream shop suddenly refused to serve anything but spaghetti, all the while continuing to tout their ice cream-making bona fides.

I did indeed, and I’d like to think it was the Fonz who wrote me back months later. I’m sure it was an underling at ABC. But it was in the heyday of “Happy Days.” Somebody at my school bought this book that had the addresses of all the celebrities. I did get a response and I’ll leave it at that. But I will tell you that everything I’ve done since then has been in response to that letter and what that letter told me to do.
– – Bruce Robison on writing a fan letter to Henry Winkler.

This apparent puritanism, not shared by the rootsier country styles grouped under the alt heading of Americana, is perhaps better understood as a highly developed sense of genre formula. Musgraves likes to point out that in real small towns people do in fact get pierced, curse, surf Internet porn and indulge in a wide variety of stimulants and sexual relations their pastors might not approve of. The country-music establishment knows this, of course, but it has invested heavily in the notion that its loyal listeners would rather spend time in a richly idealized alternate universe where such things are referenced only obliquely, if at all, and many of the cultural battles of the 1960s and after have been magically unfought. To judge by the videos the industry cranks out, misbehavior in this genre utopia doesn’t get much racier than beer-and-bonfire jams attended by models decked out in designer versions of working-class attire.
– – From an excellent New York Times Magazine feature on Kacey Musgraves by Carlo Rotella.

She’s like, ‘My friends are gonna hear you say these things,’ and I’m like, ‘Nana, it’s my career to mess up.’ And not to be rude, but she’s not my demographic.
– – Musgraves on her grandma’s reaction to “It Is What It Is,” known colloquially as “the slut song.” From the New York Times feature.

What’s so great about Buddy is his taste. He’s not a pushy guy. But he sets the standard in the studio. We were going for feel. Nothing else mattered. Buddy gets that almost instantly and everybody goes along with it. You don’t get that from anybody except Buddy.
– – Bobby Bare is a big Buddy Miller fan. (Shakespeare, incidentally? Still a big George Jones fan.)

Rick [Rubin] in his current incarnation is such a minimalist – it’s what we love about him. But we also knew that to accommodate all of the goals that we had, the best producer was Dann Huff.
– – Kimberly Perry on thinking better of the original plan to have Rick Rubin produce The Band Perry’s sophomore album.

Who would say no to that? If the reasons were the same as they were this time, I think we’d do it. But if this record is a success, as it seems to be, it could be that we’d be too self-conscious because of that. I’ve always said self-consciousness is the enemy of great art. If you somehow come into it with no designs and nothing to prove — hat in hand and heart wide open — you’ve got a good chance of making something worthwhile. So we’ll see.
– – Rodney Crowell on the possibility of a sequel to Old Yellow Moon, his duet album with Emmylou Harris.

Q: What direction would you like to see music go in?
A: Better lyrics. I don’t care if it’s punk rock or folk music or traditional country, as long as it’s good lyrics.
– – Guy Clark.

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  1. Rick says

    I totally disagree with Gut Clark. If a song doesn’t have an interesting musical structure, then I don’t give a crap about the lyrics. I’d like to hear more originality, although as time goes on that gets harder and harder to do…

    Ashley Monroe likes to think of herself as on old soul, but what she really has is a soul weariness that normally comes with aging. When her Daddy died while Ashley was 13 it knocked her way out of the normal life experience timeline. I’m just glad she has harnessed that into being an exceptional songwriter.

    As much as The Band Perry wanted to be cool with Rick Rubin, their label knew what it takes to keep them commercial and suitable for Top 40 AirHead Country radio. They can cut an indie album with Rick at the helm after their Top 40 career has tanked sometime in the future.

    The Blue Sky Riders are definitely better in concept than actual execution. I’m just hoping Georgia Middleman can make some decent money off this gig!

  2. says

    I somehow hadn’t heard that The Band Perry made the change from Rick Rubin to Dann Huff, but my anticipation for their new album dropped noticeably. Talk about trading in a Camaro for a Ford Focus.

  3. Sarah says

    I really like the ice cream analogy, I feel like it’s a good way to explain frustrations with the country industry. It’s not that we’re trying to stop other people from enjoying their spaghetti, and I’ve even occasionally found one or two types of spaghetti that I don’t hate (in very small doses, sometimes some of the… um… spaghetti… is catchy), but stop selling it in the ice cream store.

  4. Chris says

    VERY well said, Sarah…Jake’s mindset is exactly what’s wrong with the genre; I just heard today about Brad Paisley doing a duet with LL Cool J…yet another nail in country music’s coffin from someone I thought was a traditionalist. Shameful…


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