Quotable Country – 04/03/11 Edition

Note: This was compiled before last night, so most of the ACM silliness (or as much of it as I can stomach) will end up in next week’s edition.

Click the bullet after each quote to visit the source.

A recent Internet campaign was aimed at ACM Awards voters for a certain fairly new young artist who has had a few hits. The video showed clips of Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson … and then our new young singer. As if he belongs in that pantheon of greats. Give us all a break.
- – Chet Flippo calls out “a certain young artist” who sounds an awful lot like Eric Church. This is Entry #1 in a rare ‘CMT calls people out’ featurette.

As a result, what began as a song meant to release frustrations became a therapeutic ditty not intended for an album. The song boasts lyrics like, “You can tell me about your grandpa/And how he turned you on to Hank/If you have gotta tell me how country you are/You probably ain’t.”
“It doesn’t point any fingers,” Campbell insisted.
- – Entry #2: In an interview with Whitney Self, Craig Campbell on a new song called “You Probably Ain’t.” Coincidentally(?), Justin Moore’s debut includes songs called both “Grandpa” and “Hank It.”

But the other huge difference between the two is that when Swift sings, she’s connected to the lyrics. Because she wrote them. Black did not write her song, so that only adds to the mechanical nature of her vocals. Maybe when she outgrows Cocoa Pebbles and America’s Next Top Model and Forever 21, I will be able to take her seriously as a singer.
- – Entry #3: Alison Bonaguro got in on the action, calling out… Rebecca Black. A bold move, to be sure!

There’s always going to be the crafty kind of lyric that’s got the hooks and a lot of different ways to look at the hook, and I love that too. But people are getting more tapped into the emotion of music, and they’re looking to music to be an opiate, in some way, these days. They want to resonate with something and feel good … or feel something. To me, that’s the new frontier in country music.
- – Songwriter Paul Jenkins (“Don’t You Wanna Stay”) thinks songs that make you feel stuff are a new frontier. I think maybe he’s been listening to the wrong kinds of songs.

You know some guys are just so worried about being famous and being stars, they’ll do anything the record label tells ’em to do. And (the labels) really don’t have your best interests in mind. They have their own interests in mind, so you just kind of have to be an artist. Do your thing.
- – Phil Vassar, whose own bold artistic vision has given us gems like “Bobbi With an I.”

Nothing against guys who have had massive careers cutting other people’s songs (but) I don’t feel like you really can tell your crowd who you are unless you’ve written the songs. There’s a whole other layer of relating to that song when you’ve lived that. I think people can feel that.
- – Eric Church, who presumably actually lived through being sent to the electric chair.

I haven’t tried in a little while. We are about to see how that works. At a certain point, to be honest, I’m thinking it’s maybe just an age thing that radio wants to say, ‘OK, we’re not playing that anymore.’ I don’t know.
- – Randy Travis on getting his new material on the radio.

Sing us a little Jim Reeves tune, Taylor!
- – Rudy Gatlin, on hearing that Taylor Swift received the Jim Reeves International Award.

Why can’t the awards be up to the fans, too, since they’re the only reason that any of us get to go to work every day? Politics should have no place in awards show. … So if you don’t get nominated or don’t win, you can’t complain. Work harder.
- – Toby Keith thinks all awards shows should be fan-voted, because who better to decide the winners than a bunch of superfans with too much time on their hands and unlimited texting plans?

The saying goes, ‘It all starts with a song,’ and I came to town as a songwriter. To make a record like ‘Hemingway’s Whiskey’ and to see it be nominated and recognized, it kind of goes to the heart of the all the foundations that I’ve kind of built my life around on the road and off the road because I love great songs.
- – Kenny Chesney on songwriting as the heart of the foundation—okay, he’s starting to lose me here—that he built his life around. Erm, he built his life AROUND the foundation? Not sure he understands the structural purpose of a foundation. Maybe cabanas don’t have them.

Of all the milestone people I’ve gotten to work with who’ve been an influence on my life musically, he’s definitely the biggest one.
- – Zac Brown on duet partner Alan Jackson James Taylor.

When Greenwood wrote God Bless the U.S.A. in 1983 — he is the sole writer — he was contracted to do two albums a year for MCA. That meant cranking out at least 30 potential new songs every six months, a machine-gun demand that didn’t allow much time for nuance. He was touring 300 days a year, writing when he could in the back of the tour bus. Songs were whipped out in a matter of days, even hours.
- – Sean Daly at the St. Petersburg Times offers a surprisingly interesting article about what is, for my money, one of the least interesting songs extant: “God Bless the U.S.A.”

I’ve had a great time with corporate music but there’s music I want to make that isn’t really straight to radio music. I just want to make records that are more about the feel that I have. [...] The songs are more centered in the roots I came up with, an edgier, dirtier sound that isn’t as polished.
- – Pat Green is ready to get dirty again.

Before coming out to play, the promoter came on stage to announce a few simple rules: people in the front rows might have to step back from the stage; no throwing anything; no pictures from closer than the third row (we were in the second row); no offering Johnson any alcohol; and no singing any louder than Johnson.
- – If you want to see Jamey Johnson’s beard in person, you have to agree to some pretty strict rules.

So Don picks, of all things…”Seven Bridges Road”…alright…which is the song that the Eagles do acapella. And he goes, “let’s go try that.” Knowing that I don’t know what key it’s in..so Stan played the song for us. There were 3 mics set up in the studio, and Don goes, “I called Randy Travis’ people to see if he’d sing bass…and we had like 4 part harmony….and he said they said he doesn’t sing harmony. And I started laughing halfway thru the story…and said,”Don I’m not sure if I sing harmony either!”
- – Ronnie Dunn on recording with Don Henley. And don’t ask Randy Travis to sing harmony!

Jaron and the Long Road to Love Tells Fans He’s Touring With Charlie Sheen as April Fools’ Day Prank
- – Taste of Country headline lowers the bar for what qualifies as news.

We have a new producer now, Josh Leo. He produced Restless Heart, Alabama, Emerson Drive, Don Henley from the Eagles … so we’re super excited about that. The new stuff that we just recorded is a lot more organic. It’s really, really exciting. For us it’s been really exciting to get to make a record the way that our influences made records — Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley — real organic and in the studio not doing too much extra stuff, even with the post production.
- – The new music from Love & Theft will be more organic. Where have I heard this before? Oh, right. Everywhere, about everyone’s new music. I’m sure it’ll be just like Johnny Cash and Elvis.

Surprise! Look at what I found:

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About C.M. Wilcox

A freelance writer and humorist with an abiding love of country music, C.M. Wilcox's cutting, clear-eyed take on the genre has drawn the attention of Country Weekly, The Washington Post, and The Tennessean in the years since this site began. He lives near Sacramento and can be reached by email at CMW (at) countrycalifornia.com.

Things People Are Saying

  1. Songs were whipped out in a matter of days, even hours

    So he was basically a one-man, just-as-banal-but-in-a-different-way version of The Peach Pickers.

  2. “Nothing against guys who have had massive careers cutting other people’s songs (but) I don’t feel like you really can tell your crowd who you are unless you’ve written the songs. There’s a whole other layer of relating to that song when you’ve lived that. I think people can feel that.”

    This quote irritates me. I’m not terribly concerned with who the person or people singing the songs are. What I’m paying attention to is who or what the song is about. If you wrote it, and it’s about you, and you can make it good, then great. If someone else wrote it and you can make me believe you’ve been through it, then that’s great as well. Doesn’t matter who wrote it….it’s how you sing it. A great singer can make you feel like they’ve lived through it, whether they have or not. For example, the Oak Ridge Boys have a song (called “My Son”) that is written from the point of view of Mary, mother of Jesus. Now, I know none of them gave birth to Jesus, but when Joe Bonsall sings the song, he makes you believe that he was there. When he gets to the part where Mary watches Jesus being crucified, you can feel the pain in his voice. There are a lot of great country artists who do not write their own material and still do a hell of a job making you feel the song. They tell us who they are by their selection of which songs they record and perform and by the way they interpret those songs.

  3. Not only is Church placing himself in the pantheon of country legends, he completely ripped off a famous Apple commercial to do it, which completely nullifies the intended concept of “think different.” Give us all a break, indeed.

  4. Dude, go Craig Campbell!

  5. Eric who?

  6. Your line referencing “Lightning” after the Church quote slayed me. Hilarious stuff. And while I do enjoy a sizable bulk of Church’s output so far, there’s no denying that video is ridiculously over dramatic and self-indulgent. Some of the influences may be there but he’s got a long way to go to ever earn the same billing with those artists (as does the majority of the genre at this point). As a result, the clip winds up being quite humorous as well. Thanks for the laughs!

  7. Not really related to this post but in the spirit of your love for great music,

    New York’s answer to modern radio….

    http://newyorkknowsbest.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/i-heard-it-through-the-grapevine/

    A great little piece about people pushing musical boundaries :)

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  1. [...] until a week or so ago, when C M Wilcox pointed out Craig’s song ‘You Probably Ain’t in a recent edition of Quotable Country over at Country California, his witty weekly take on the more notable or bizarre comments made [...]

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