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There’s not anything in Willie’s life, I’m sure, that’s as important as writing a song. He plays golf and he plays poker and he plays pool and he does them good, but his mind’s not on them. His mind is on songs. Even when he’s not playing, he’s thinking about the guitar, and everything else is bullshit. ●
— Merle Haggard on Willie Nelson.
He has this Buddha-like quality. One of the greatest things I learned from Willie Nelson is how to listen. He’d be sitting in a room with all these people talking up a storm, and Willie’d be listening. Then he’d say the most intelligent, amazing thing. He would listen. And he’d sit there and just smile, kind of like what you think the Dalai Lama is supposed to do. There is that quality to him, and you know he ain’t no saint. He’d be the first to tell you that. ●
— Ray Benson on Willie Nelson.
I heard Chris Stapleton do it in the dressing room on our tour a few weeks ago and it leveled me. Willie’s [version] is obviously the Mack Daddy, but to also hear other singers interpret that song so beautifully [is special]. And, wow, what a lyric, what a melody. ●
— Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild on “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground.”
The first record that I really did where I could look somebody in the eye was (1994’s) Loco Gringo’s Lament. All the ones in my 20s and 30s had excuses duct taped to them. Now, learning how to play blues guitar, I actually have a career. ●
— Ray Wylie Hubbard, whose new album is The Ruffian’s Misfortune.
The Attitude of Gratitude will not fix what’s happened here. Our industry is not sustainable right now. Patronage helps (you know who you are). People who still believe in buying music help (you truly do—you make all the difference at this moment). Crowd-sourcing campaigns have varying levels of success (I had a good run and am grateful). Thank goodness for flush car companies whose ads depict couples doing happy things to the soundtrack of artists under forty.
But to the ethos of endless music consumption with no investment: BOO. To bloggers who tell David Byrne to keep playing his pretty music but leave the income distribution math to the experts: BOO. To the industry people who tell us there is still money, it’s just in different places: BOO. And to ALL streaming entities right now: BOO BOO BOO. ●
— Dar Williams, in a guest blog for American Songwriter.
You can’t fight [the internet]. I know there’s a lot of people fighting for the songwriter, and I think [piracy] has hurt the songwriter more than the artist. The songwriter, I do think we need to find a way to figure out how to help the American songwriter try to make a better living than what’s going on now. But there’s really smart people in Nashville really fighting for that, trying to help the songwriter. But as far as the artist’s aspect of that, I think it’s a huge asset for us. You can’t really fight the internet. [Laughs]. You have to use it to help your career. ●
— Wade Bowen on harnessing the technology of the moment.
… Let’s play flashcards. You don’t know these artists. You’re just listening to just a few hooks of their songs. You tell me what they are. Florida Georgia Line – country, rock or pop? We can do Brantley Gilbert, Eric Church or Sam Hunt. You’re telling me Sam Hunt’s song is country? Today Country is successful because it’s co-opting other audiences into the format. The problem that our business will always have and that will keep it from realizing its full potential is the narrow-mindedness of the industry; the inability of people inside our business to look at what we’re trying to do and not be so formatically rigid about what defines Country. ●
— Cumulus’ John Dickey to Country Aircheck.
To his credit, Zac Brown has always been careful to clarify that he’s not exactly a country musician. His band will probably always explore broader influences, as they do in their live shows. But here’s the rub: to the general public, Zac Brown is a country star. In fact, he’s one of the genre’s rootsiest acts, at least judging by his radio output. So what’s distressing about this album is that it’s a prime example of how little the term “country” means any more when it comes to genre classification – and how quickly an authentically American kind of music is losing any of the elements that make it unique. Funk songs are now theoretically “country”, as are hip-hop fusions, and now Brown’s attempts at hard rock and EDM, too. At what point does a line need to be drawn? At what point does country cease to mean anything? ●
— Grady Smith, considering Zac Brown Band’s exploratory Jekyll + Hyde for The Guardian.
They’ve learned to trust me over the years. If they really thought it was a bad idea, they kind of keep it to themselves. And I appreciate that because it’s not going to deter me from doing it. But they do have my back and they know ultimately that I have a plan even though it would seem far-fetched or seem crazy. ●
— Zac Brown on his bandmates.
[Carrie Underwood] keyed a guy’s truck. I didn’t even do that. I threw empty beer cans. Empty, not frozen. But keying a truck, that’s okay. ●
— Tyler Farr, comparing the responses to “Redneck Crazy” and “Before He Cheats.”
It’s not driving drunk. Shit, I mean we all were in high school, we all drove. I drove with a pony keg in the bed in my truck with a damn hose through the sliding [window]. Today is so censored, and you wonder why kids turned out pansies. Because everybody’s a winner. He got sixth place? Tell him to run faster. You have to learn from your mistakes — nowadays you’re not allowed to make mistakes to learn from. ●
— Tyler Farr, veering unpredictably from how the lyric “You’d be a little nervous if a cop showed up/’Cause you drank a little maybe just a little too much” isn’t about driving drunk (it is) to how driving drunk while underage isn’t that big of a deal anyway… and, finally, to how your kids are all pansies. He seems to have gone to the Hank Jr. School of Speaking in Boorish Soundbites.
When [Dave] Cobb moved back to the South, one of the first things he wanted to do was find [Chris] Stapleton and make a record with him. The men’s first meeting was less than auspicious.
“I briefly ran into him once at a guitar store and talked to him for a second,” Cobb said. “I asked, ‘Are you Chris Stapleton?’
“He said, ‘Yeah.’ I was like, ‘All right, cool,’ and left. I didn’t know what to say (to him) after that.'” ●
— From Juli Thanki’s Tennessean feature on Chris Stapleton. Traveller is out Tuesday.
Genius is the best way to describe him. Beyond that, he’s a wonderful being, and it’s great to have him around in the studio. He’s always a joy to be around and makes everything he touches better for sure. I just can’t imagine making this record without him. I don’t think it would be anything close to what it is. ●
— Chris Stapleton, to Billboard, on Dave Cobb.
So we went to the label [Mercury Records Nashville] with the idea that I’d like to record a record in that style with Dave. They initially asked me to go in and do six sides with him. We’d booked time, seven or eight days, and within two days we had six sides done [laughs]. So I called up the label and asked, “Can we just keep going?” They said go ahead and when they heard what we’d been doing, they were all in. ●
— Chris Stapleton to Radio.com.
I think it’s important to write about real things. I really enjoy those seemingly negative and pitiful country-music subject matters that often get ignored for happier times and just a fun party. I like those songs, too, but I’m more interested in the ones that involve maybe the darker elements of the human condition. ●
— Chris Stapleton to the Boston Globe.
There was nothing frightening about [moving to Nashville] at all. I tried college and that didn’t take. I tried various other jobs that didn’t really take just because of the disinterest in all things but music.
Boy, as soon as I found out someone would pay you to write songs and play, I said, ‘That’s the job for me. I’ve got to figure out how to do that.’ So I was lucky enough to meet some of the right people fairly early in town. I had a publishing deal about four days after moving to Nashville. ●
— Chris Stapleton to Kentucky.com.
Without an existing Sony chief, an ongoing marketing strategy for Brooks’ Man Against Machine album is in flux (even the top-selling solo artist in the U.S. is affected by label changes). He says plans for a third single from the chart-topping LP, which was released in November — his first studio album of new material since 2001’s Scarecrow — are on hold until the label’s changeover to a still-to-be-named leader is complete. “My thing is allow them the freedom to make that transition and get a plan and nobody’s heard anything about that yet,” says the singer, who is now working on a holiday album with Yearwood. The first two singles from Machine — the anthemic “People Loving People” and sentimental “Mom” — peaked at Numbers 19 and 32, respectively, on Billboard’s Country Airplay charts. ●
— The departure of Gary Overton really threw off Garth’s radio plan. (cough)
What a child needs when they’re growing up is support and love, mainly love. Love can go a long, long ways whether they’re gay or not. All the troubles and the problems and the obstacles that they are going to face in their lives are going to be astronomical, especially in their very young, inexperienced minds. And if they do happen to be gay, that’s going to be a harder hurdle to get over. What a parent needs to do more than anything is jump in there with love and support. You made ’em. They’re a gift from God. Love ’em as they are. ●
— Reba to PrideSource.
I don’t go around kicking what country music is going through today because Carrie Underwood and all those people have had so many great hits. When they started bringing in people they referred to as the ‘hat gang’ — I guess it would be Garth (Brooks) and Alan Jackson — I didn’t go around saying, ‘We were better than them!’ or ‘It was better then!’ And Taylor Swift has had so much success from the vantage point of money. I mean, who’s going to kick $53 million a year? ●
— Charley Pride.
If you get a good, relatable song, and people like it, it’s going to get on the charts. ●
— Jana Kramer, ever the optimist.
The first record there was a little bit of me, you know, not necessarily copying, but just trying to make a way for myself and make a name for myself and trying to do what’s popular in the genre. This new single we have out, and the whole rest of [my sophomore] album is very me. Very different, very left of center – but it’s what I’m passionate about.
It’s a compilation of everything I’ve been listening to for the past two years and its really just finally at a point where I’m doing exactly what I want to do. ●
— Thomas Rhett, whose version of ‘finding himself’ is going from emulating Eric Church to emulating Bruno Mars.
He’s a great f**king singer. He’s a really nice guy, f**king funny as shit, sweet, he’s had all this success and money. You go over to his house and he’s like, “Man, I don’t have much of a fridge but I could stick some ham in a hot dog bun with some mustard and Cheez Wiz,” and you’re like, “Right on, dude. I’m with you, dude.” ●
— Shooter Jennings on Billy Ray Cyrus.
But yeah, that outlaw country thing — I’m worn out by it. I don’t mean in terms of my radio station. That was built with the utmost best intent. Outside of things like that, whenever I see that it’s usually a red flag that this is gonna suck. When someone’s like, “Yeah man, we’re badass outlaw country.” I’m like, “OK, This is gonna blow.” […] My dad never really liked it back then. He never toted “I’m an outlaw” and all this business, so it seems kind of silly seeing a whole generation of entitled MTV kids that have PlayStations grow up and put on a vest and pretend they grew up in 1950 Arkansas. It’s hard for me to get behind. ●
— Shooter Jennings.
Now, we’re at a point where we can do the tickets we want to do. I just thought it was cooler than who everybody else takes on tour. Everybody just repackages tours. That’s what happens in country music. That’s what happens in all kinds of music. They just take the same four or five people, whoever had a hit this year, whoever’s hot, and sticks them on the bill.
There is just so much music out there I love that doesn’t have the outlet. You know what? We didn’t used to have the outlet, either. We used to play the bars and clubs and couldn’t get on a tour. Nobody would take us out. I remember thinking then, ‘If I ever get the opportunity, I’m going to make sure we take people out that we love, that have a chance to grow.’ Going forward, this is something we’re going to continue to do. ●
— Eric Church on taking acts like Dwight Yoakam, Brandy Clark, Drive-By Truckers, and JD McPherson out as his openers.
An impromptu meeting of three generations of acclaimed country singer-songwriters materialized Friday backstage on the Time Jumpers’ bus shortly before their set when Haggard, along with Willie Nelson, stopped by and then was joined by [Sturgill] Simpson. ●
— From Randy Lewis’ Stagecoach feature for the Los Angeles Times.
I think it’s incumbent on artists my age to re-inspire themselves. Maybe that will inspire a contemporary listener to want to pay attention to what you’re doing. Music is a state of continuous discovery. Or it should be. ●
— Dwight Yoakam.