Quotable Country – 05/11/15 Edition

Click the bullet after each quote to visit the source.

My mom’s a saint.
— Thomas Rhett, probably the only country boy to feel this way about a mother. Ohwait.

Many of the tunes on “The Gold Mine” sound written from either the bottom of a bottle or a bank account; they’re crushing songs, liable to coax out a few tears if you listen too closely. But even Brett Resnick’s aching pedal steel couldn’t sap the joy from Waldon’s face; she sang her saddest lyrics with an indefatigable smile. Is that showmanship, or just the pleasure that comes with a performance drawn right from the soul?
— Kelsey Waldon got a nice live review from the Washington Post.

I might not be the best record-maker in the world, but it’s too late to get much better at it. I have my methods, the ones that work to my satisfaction. I work whenever possible with players and engineers with whom I’m strongly and personally familiar, because I’ve gotten burned relying on reputations, high hopes, and people’s talents as gleaned off other people’s records. I record live performances (including my singing) because the properties of in-the-moment group interaction, though sometimes subtle, are crucial and unsimulatable, because that’s how I play outside the studio, because it’s fun, and because most of the records I like to listen to were made that way.
— Robbie Fulks, in a blog post about working on his follow-up to Gone Away Backward.

I think that 2:35 is the new 3:30. Under three minutes is country gold right now.
— “Lose My Mind” co-writer/co-producer Ross Copperman, in a Billboard article on the axing (pun!) of guitar parts from commercial releases.

I went to start a bank account in Nashville on Music Row at SunTrust Bank at the time. I was 23. I didn’t have a lot of money, maybe under $1,000, but enough to pay for my first month’s rent. […] I started a bank account and figured why not go [to the bank] on Music Row that deals with other musicians and music-industry people, so when they ask me why I’m in town and I say, “To get something going,” maybe she knows someone that can help me, and that’s exactly what happened. She asked me what I did, and I told her, and she said, “I’d love to hear your music,” so I gave it to her. Next thing I know, I got a call from someone. It was weird because I literally played that scenario out in my mind. By no means was I being boisterous or cocky, but you do have to believe in yourself and set out with a goal or you might not ever fulfill it. So she helped me out a lot, and that’s how it all started.
— Jake Owen on getting his start in Nashville.

Q: Do you think it’s harder for females to break into country music? When it comes to awards, it still seems its so disproportioned in favor of the guys in so many categories.
A: No. I don’t think it’s harder per se, but the difference that might make it easier for men is that men sing songs that women want to hear and say the things that guys can’t say. It’s like when you’re a kid and you give a mixtape to a girl or whatever of how much you love her, but you say it through the songs you give her. The thing is, there’s not many songs from girls…most songs from women are speaking through a woman’s perspective to women. They’re not songs that guys are like, “I totally get what she’s talking about!” So they don’t tend to relate as much as the guy songs do. I think one thing about Miranda Lambert that connects so well is that she does sing songs that relate to guys and girls and has an edge to her. But I don’t think that guys or girls have a one-up on either one. I think it’s so great to have women in the format, and I hope more females can break in to even out the playing field a little bit.
— Jake Owen again. Of course, in order for them to break in and even out the playing field, the playing field would have to be even enough for them to break in in the first place. Say, have any of these whiny womenfolk even TRIED opening a bank account? It’s simple as that for the dudes.

This might not be a very popular thing to say in Nashville, but for the better part of 10 years, females really weren’t bringing it. And I think the people responsible for writing songs that had more of a female theme were not delivering.
— UMG Nashville CEO Mike Dungan on country’s woman problem.

It’s funny with the labeling, it cracks me up. When they say bro country…if what you hear right now is bro country, then that’s been around for a long time. In the 70s they were still singing about Daisy Dukes, trucks and drinking beer. I do love the fact that country has broadened its horizons. The genre has gotten huge and some people don’t like it.
— LoCash’s Chris Lucas.

Funky R&B really does something to me. To be able to put all that on a country album is great.
— Thomas Rhett. How nice for him!

It’s costing a million-and-a-half dollars every time we put out a release [with] three singles. So we can’t just throw shit out there until something sticks.
— Mike Dungan on the cost of promoting new music.

Mr. [David] Letterman likes literate, blue-collar songs, observers say—earnest tunes that reveal emotion rather than hide it. “It’s all about the songwriting and the lyrics,” he says. “I like the stories they tell, I like the people, I like the roots of the music.”
— The Wall Street Journal: “Americana Musicians Find Champion in Letterman.” The Bluegrass Situation also has a list of the Top 10 Roots Music Performances on ‘Letterman.’

Country My Ass…it’s a song, by Dale Watson…check it out…
— Comment on Guardian article about Taylor Swift, apropos of nothing.

If somebody tells me it sounds dated, I’d say that’s great, as long as the date is 1978. My favorite things are from then, and why wouldn’t you want to try to be like those things? Inevitably, it’s just going to sound like me anyway.
— Chris Stapleton on Traveller, which you’ve certainly (certainly!) acquired by now.

I had an advance copy of the record in my hand, and I was sitting there thinking, ‘There’s a lot of me on this record.’ There’s songs that are the 23-year-old me on this record, the 28-year-old me playing in bands, the 30-year-old who just got married. There’s the 37-year-old with two kids and in-laws living close by, and my mother living down the street.
There’s all those things on this record, and all those stages of my musical life are on this record. In a lot of ways it’s a little overwhelming and frightening to have that much of yourself laid out to the world.
— Chris Stapleton, again on Traveller.

You do have to do some things sometimes that seem like, ‘Man, I’m gonna do this, and then that? That seems like a terrible idea.’ [Laughs]. But you do it anyway, because one, you like to play shows, and two, sometimes everybody has to do things in life that they don’t necessarily like to do. I always tell people, ‘The music’s free. I get paid to travel.’
— Chris Stapleton on hectic touring.

We have a history in country music of writing about the darker side of things—maybe not as much in modern times, but there’s a lot of cheating and self-deprecation. We sort it out in song, in country music, as a genre. For whatever weird reason, that kind of dark stuff makes me feel good [laughs]. […] It’s kind of a strange anomaly that depression is so fun.
— Chris Stapleton to Entertainment Weekly.

“That was a song I wrote with Jim Beavers, and I have to give credit where credit is due,” co-writer Chris Stapleton tells Taste of Country. “Jim came in with that entire chorus, and it really just became my idea to make it morbid and maybe have somebody die in it,” he adds with a laugh.
— Chris Stapleton on “Drink a Beer.” Better get on the Chris-Stapleton-laughing-at-sad-things memes, Farce the Music!

[Laughs] What? Any beard-care tips? [Laughs] My wife has never seen my chin, I’ve had this beard for 11 or 12 years—had it long before it was the cool thing to have. Now everybody’s got one.
I think I just got lazy one day and the laziness never stopped. But I think it would scare my children if I shaved it off and walked in a room. I’m sure they would be upset about it. But my wife did reserve the right when we got married to ask me to shave my beard but she’s yet to exercise that. That was part of our deal for getting married.
— Chris Stapleton on his beard.

There’s some things I know about traditional country music: Historically, it has told the stories of the American people — real life and honesty and truth. Life is not always a three-and-a-half-minute, positive, uptempo song, you know?
— Lee Ann Womack.

Growing up, my house was basically condemned when we got it, but my mother was determined to make it awesome. It had mismatched carpet, and the halls were creaky. But those little things that were imperfect were what made it perfect. It’s funny, because I had friends with really nice houses—with pools!—and they always wanted to come to our house. I think our home just had love. I think that’s why country music resonates with so many people. It’s not about being perfect. It’s real.
— Miranda Lambert.

I wanted to create an album where you heard five guys playing music, because I still believe in that. I believe it’s possible to have hit songs and popular music that’s recorded by human beings. Nothing against what’s going on right now, but I’m just not good at that. I’m not good at synthetic drum sounds and programming things.
— Frankie Ballard.

There were lots of things I didn’t learn until I was a parent. But what I learned after I was a parent was to be more gracious to everybody because you always hope people will give your kid an even break, and I wish I had given everybody else’s kid an even break. You know, graciousness and good manners can get you a long way in this world, and there was a shortage of that kind of thing in the ’60s, ‘early 70s hot music thing. We kind of prided ourselves on being dismissive and I’m not proud of that.
— Linda Ronstadt, in conversation with David Bromberg.

I think if you start chasing radio, if you start chasing what your fans want to hear — I think if you start chasing what you think is the end thing — it’s okay to include some of that stuff, but if you start chasing that as a home base I think you’re in trouble as an artist.
— Tim McGraw, who I guess ought to know.

I think kids need to know … that it’s possible to be a James Brown. That it’s possible to be a Otis Redding. That it’s possible to be a Luke Bryan.
— Dallas Davidson. On second thought, why scare the kids?

I have to plead ignorance. I really don’t listen to current country. I’m not making a statement, it’s just that my mind is elsewhere and my ears are elsewhere.
— Someone thought it made sense to ask Emmylou Harris about Luke Bryan. Huh.

I have dreadful memories from my early Nashville days of record producers telling me to sing a song over and over and over. So, before the f**king record came out, I hated the song. I don’t sing the songs any more than one or two times. If I ain’t got it then, then f**k it, I ain’t puttin’ it on there. I will not be told what to do. I will not be told what to sing, unless I really, really, really trust. In Nashville, they didn’t really give a f**k whether I trusted them or not. It was like, ‘Here, sing this.’ Those times are way gone.
— Shelby Lynne.

I love those songs. That music was made in California but it reminds me of the music I grew up with in Oklahoma. People in Oklahoma City have more in common with those in Bakersfield, California, than those on the coast of California [do]. It’s a funny thing.
— Vince Gill on the Bakersfield Sound.

It’s a special name to me, it means a lot to me. I’ve known all along there’s people who are going to hear the name Sam Outlaw and just be like, “Oh cool, fake name, asshole” and just kind of write me off. And so, that’s fine. You’re always going to get those people but at the end of the day you always hope it’s your music that makes people either like you or decide they don’t like you.
— Sam Outlaw.

If everybody tends to write their own songs and sing them you wind up with a lot of mediocre songwriters, because there are only a few really good ones. It’s like it used to be in the old days with the standards, where you would get a great singer like Ella Fitzgerald singing a song that was written by George Gershwin — that’s a pretty good combination there. Then Sarah Vaughan comes along and sings a Gershwin song and sings it in a totally different way. Then Billie Holiday sings it probably better than anybody. Then Frank Sinatra comes along and does it too. So you get a lot of incredible interpretations of very good songwriting.
— Linda Ronstadt, making the case for non-compulsory singer-songwritering.

If people are wondering why my set list is getting longer, it’s because I don’t want to walk offstage and face this shit. [Laughs]. But we’re having a good time.
— Eric Church on traveling with kids and pets.

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  1. Sabra says

    Chris Lucas is right; “Irma Jackson” was totally about how her ass looked in cutoffs while climbing up into Merle Haggard’s truck.

    • says

      Merle did have some silly songs (sillier than “Irma Jackson,” certainly), but there was usually some sort of commentary or conflict or something to make it more interesting and multidimensional than the bulk of what we’re getting today. As you know.

  2. Hoggy from Oz says

    Sam Outlaw’s album, “Angeleno”, is absolutely awesome. Definitely give it a listen if you get the chance. Get set of quotes CM!

  3. CraigR. says

    Jake Owen said ” The thing is, there’s not many songs from girls…most songs from women are speaking through a woman’s perspective to women. They’re not songs that guys are like, “I totally get what she’s talking about!” So they don’t tend to relate as much as the guy songs do.”

    There are the three problems with country music today. First there are aren’t many songs from girls. Bro- country is about being a boy all your life. Women tend to grow up. So unless you are Taylor Swift- who is now writing from a woman’s point of view-girl music is limited and has a shelf life. Secondly, if a guy doesn’t like to hear songs from a female mindset he is just stupid. It reflects an immature, misogynistic idea of women. The idea that a woman’s feelings can’t be equal or shared. That a woman is just there as someone to objectify, have sex with, and then push aside for the real love in their lives- their bros. And finally if country music is ever to return to adulthood the boy singers have to grow some balls and become men. George Jones, Hank Williams, Roger Miller, George Strait, Alan Jackson, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and even Garth Brooks- all men. All men who sang about real life, real feelings, and tried to understand women and their way of thinking. Jake and his frat brothers should put down the bong and see that a grown up man can listen and relate to women. It’s not that difficult. But you have to be an adult first.

    • Erik North says

      One of the problems, though, is that a lot of these “bro country” songwriters seemingly have only ever known about slim blonde girls in Daisy Duke cut-off jeans, and that’s all they claim they need to write about. Dallas Davidson is an especially egregious offender in this respect, claiming that he writes about what he knows, and that’s what people want to hear. Not only does it seem to me that he has obviously a low opinion of the intelligence of the country music audience (and women in particular, in my opinion), but he also has never heard of the maxim posed by the late, great writer Ken Kesey: “Don’t write about what you know, write about what you DON’T know.”

  4. Erik North says

    In terms of Linda’s two quotes here–first, with regards to being gracious, although she admits to not being all she could have been in that area when she was at the zenith of her popularity in the late 70s, she was incredibly generous and gracious to all those that worked with her, including the Eagles and Emmylou. In regards to what she said about songwriting, she wasn’t putting down the whole idea of the singer/songwriter by any means, just pointing out how difficult it really is for many of them to be stand-outs like those of the past. Unfortunately, if she saw what the wreckage is like in country music in this area, she’d probably scoff (and rightly so [IMHO]).

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