Quotable Country – 05/12/14 Edition


Click the bullet after each quote to visit the source.

The title is very much a nod to Ray Charles. But also I’m a gigantic smartass. There’s a lot going on in country music, with indie-label hipsters and underground bloggers arguing their interpretations of what country is, and pop-country stars defending themselves. That deserves to be poked fun at.
- – Sturgill Simpson on Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, out Tuesday.

When they told me John Travolta was gonna do the film Urban Cowboy, it dawned on me that it was gonna be … Country Night Fever. That’s what it amounted to. I mean, he introduced a different style of country music to the world. And if it was cool for John Travolta, it was cool for the younger set, and that’s the reason why it kicked in.
- – Mickey Gilley.

No, that is not great… That song is for me, and I need you to go take it off hold.
- – Pre-stardom Josh Turner to his publisher, upon learning that Alan Jackson had a hold on “Long Black Train.” Bold move.

[In Elvis’ day] those guys didn’t write songs. But it was fine. You didn’t care. You weren’t concerned with who wrote the song. You just liked the song. You liked how it started, and you liked the way the performer performed it, and you liked the way they looked. That has been lost in our vein, in the Americana world, or whatever we’re supposed to call it. … That’s baffling to me, that in a world of roots music, a world based on traditional stuff, everybody’s got to be original. If you’re not, then people kinda turn their nose up at you.
- – Willie Watson, whose new album is Folk Singer Vol. 1, on the singer-songwriter boom.

Country, it’s presented as real people singing real songs to real people. It’s not. There’s literally like 30 people behind every decision that’s made in that entire industry. The thing I love about this alt country, or Americana, whatever this world is that me and all my buddies have gotten lumped into, it’s a bunch of characters writing songs. Just as Gary Briggs from New West says, we’re ‘living’ our songs. We wrote them about real shit that happened to us. No hypotheticals.
- – Nikki Lane on the difference between country and Americana.

I think there’s talent possibly out there that would rival the great Keith Whitley, although I’ve never heard it. But is the playing field level enough for that to happen? My answer would be, I don’t think it is. I wish that I did.
- – Mark Bright, best known for his work producing Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts, Sara Evans, Lonestar, Reba McEntire, etc. May 9 was the 25th anniversary of Keith Whitley’s death.

You gotta thank the songwriting gods for that song. I mean it’s truly, you know, one of those songs that may or may not come around once in a lifetime.
- – Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard on “Cruise.” Isn’t every song technically one of those songs that MAY OR MAY NOT come around once in a lifetime? I think he may or may not have diluted the impact of whatever he was trying to say.

I think that we’re mindful of that. But, you know I think also the “bro country” thing is real life. The reason it’s working is because it’s what my fans, and what I live, you know? And that’s just the deal. I think, is there over saturation? I think there’s potential. I also look at the songs that I have and I don’t think they’re that, you know?
- – Dustin Lynch, answering the obligatory bro-country question.

Tell me a great story. I don’t like happy songs; I like the blues side, the sad side of emotion. But my job is to make you feel whatever you want.
- – Vince Gill.

It sounds to me like mid-’80s heavy metal. For me, that’s what country music has become. It’s all bombastic explosions on stage. Replace the Sunset Strip with a barbecue and a pickup truck. That’s country music now.
- – Eddie Spaghetti of The Supersuckers on modern country music.

With the music, we have purposely tried not to evolve. Our influences are bands that have kind of remained remedial and have stuck with a formula, bands like AC/DC, The Ramones and Motorhead. Those are the three bands that we have emulated. We write songs that sound like The Supersuckers. We don’t want to grow too much. I hate it when an artist makes a record and talks about how much they have grown on it. That is code for saying that they now suck.
- – Eddie Spaghetti again, with an interesting take on musical evolution.

All I am going to say about that is that we’re fans of music, too. Either like it or don’t like it. It is getting old with everyone trying to analyze what country music is. If you look back from day one, it has always evolved. You talk about sprinkling different genres and other genres – you look at Johnny Cash and Elvis, they’re both rock ‘n’ roll. They’re both in the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
- – Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley.

I think what killed me early on was finding out how little the artist community did for The Country Music Hall of Fame. This is a Hall of Fame that’s ours. That’s who is in here, these country artists. And come to find out, there wasn’t a whole lot of flag waving and support and chipping in and all that stuff. And I was like, ‘Let’s try and have everybody do their part.’
- – Vince Gill on the impetus behind the All for the Hall benefit concerts.

I don’t know what’s going on with all the other great female artists. I don’t know where the connection is off right now as far as the airplay. I champion the females. I’m a huge fan of female artists, and strong females in general. I’m proud of them, and I’m so thankful I’ve been able to follow in the footsteps of the ones before me, and I’m holding the door open for the ones that want to follow behind me. This is just one of those waves where females are struggling a little bit, but we’ll come back around and be a force to be reckoned with.
- – Miranda Lambert in a new Billboard cover story.


  1. the pistolero says

    Funny that Brian Kelley would mention the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, because it’s as much of a joke as FGL’s “music.” And once again, why does evolution always have to be towards a more generic sound and more trite and banal lyrics?

  2. Jack says

    I really enjoy this feature, but I find myself wanting to respond to ten different quotations with my own (completely unsolicited) opinion.

    Anyway, I think there’s a lot of truth to what Willie Watson says.

    I think there is very little nuance or self-awareness to most of the things the “bro-country” bros say.

    I think Nikki Lane is onto something, though ‘Americana’ has a few of its own problems too.

    I admire Miranda Lambert for aspiring to be a champion of female artists. I know she is really supportive of her friend Ashley Monroe, and has recorded at least one song by Kacey Musgraves, both of whom I like. But I don’t find it that much of a mystery why most female artists aren’t getting played on corporate radio. It’s pretty clear to me that at this point Clear Chanel / Cumulus have decided to play (pander) exclusively to a male 18-34 demographic, to the exclusion of basically everyone who doesn’t test well with this specific, narrowly defined group.

  3. Chris says

    Mark Bright thinks there’s Keith Whitley-type talent out there, but hasn’t HEARD it? As long as he’s been in the business? Look a little f’ing harder, Mark…

  4. the pistolero says

    And re: the Eddie Spaghetti quote:

    I think that’s probably the first time I’ve ever heard anyone claim musical evolution is even remotely a bad thing, but I must say he has a great point. He could have very well said, “We write songs that sound like country music. We don’t want to grow too much. I hate it when ‘country’ artists make records and talk about how much they have grown on it. That is code for saying that they now suck.”

    And I can’t say much about the Ramones or Motörhead, but I’ve heard more than a few folks accuse AC/DC of making the same songs or albums over and over. Same goes for George Strait. But anyone with even a remote familiarity with those artists’ catalogs knows that’s not the case. They found their core sound and stuck with it. You might even say they made it their…musical identity. And you know everyone, no matter their tastes in music, could name more than a few artists and bands who started out great but “evolved” right out of what made them great and into utter mediocrity, and even pure suckitude in some cases. Brian Kelley may think he sounds pretty smart talking about evolution, but he doesn’t. He just sounds like a hack trying to justify what he and his fellow hacks are doing to country music. And yes. I know. Luke Bryan might well say that “music fans are less inclined to stick to just one kind of music these days,” and there’s some truth to that, but if you really think his or Florida-Georgia Line’s mixtapes really have any Hank or Conway, then I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.


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