Quotable Country – 05/16/11 Edition

Click the bullet after each quote to visit the source.

We’ll never be able to eliminate the image from the music industry, unless you count Craig Morgan. He’s ugly as crap to me.
– – Blake Shelton fires another shot in the longstanding Morgan/Shelton pseudo-feud. Always funny.

People always ask, “Why isn’t there any more of y’all in this business?” They bring up Darius Rucker, and I say, “Yes, I’ve met him and he’s a very nice fellow, and he’s fine singer and a nice guy.” But the thing is, I’m traditional. He came from Hootie and the Blowfish. He’s getting the airplay now that I still think I should be getting. Nothing against him — it’s the industry. When people ask why isn’t there any more, I say maybe they don’t want any more.
– – Despite the best efforts of programmers to keep him put out to pasture, Charley Pride isn’t ready to be forgotten. And he hasn’t been holding his tongue as much lately, either. Good for him.

Obviously, the last five years have been fantastic for me, but artistically, it’s been a bit of a struggle to figure out how to keep my own identity while fitting in in this other world, you know? […] Because of the success of the last four or five years, I feel like I can go back and make those records that feel great to me.
– – Jack Ingram hints at (hopefully) better music to come.

American Recordings really has become the blueprint for golden years comebacks. Just about every comeback album since then has picked up at least one of American Recordings’ three hooks: 1) a stripped-down sound, to convey authenticity; 2) a mature artist working with a young buck producer; or 3) a mature artist taking on the songs of much younger artists. It’s a pretty good formula. I mean, I love the Glen Campbell comeback album from a couple of years ago, which is basically him covering Green Day and the Replacements in the style of his great Wichita Lineman and Galveston heyday. And while Jack White’s work with Loretta Lynn and Wanda Jackson should put Rubin a little to shame, he’s also picking up on some of the American Recordings fairy dust.
– – Tony Tost, award-winning poet and author of the recent Johnny Cash’s American Recordings book.

I think it’s just obnoxious if I complain about anything. I hear people talk about like, ‘Oh the intrusions on my privacy.’ It’s like, ‘There’s a million other jobs you could have had.’ For me, I’ve just come to an acceptance of the fact that this is my life and if somebody wants to hide a relationship or has privacy issues then we don’t have the same viewpoint, ’cause for me, it’s just like live your life and if people happen to take pictures then, you know, you laugh about it in the car afterwards.
– – Taylor Swift to Ellen DeGeneres on keeping interactions with the paparazzi in perspective.

I’ve just been trying for the last seven years to prove that I’m not the normal talent-show kid. The normal stereotype is that people think it’s pretty much karaoke. That’s why I wanted this record to be the way it is. I insisted on writing and producing it so everybody could keep their damned mouth shut.
– – Josh Gracin is still trying to shake the “Idol” baggage.

I feel like everyone who has left a negative comment about this song should jump off a cliff. […] These reviewers need to take the nipple off there sippy cups and get real.
– – The 9513 may have ceased publication, but the defensive hit-and-run comments are still flowing. For example, meet this Eric Church fanboy, who seems woefully unfamiliar with the anatomy of a sippy cup.

Brad Paisley is so quintessentially a country star, it’s almost as if he has been engineered by twang-happy research scientists or tobacco-chewing aliens to encapsulate everything great about the genre. He’s a sentimentalist, a rocker, a traditionalist, a singer of gospel and goofy novelty songs, a proponent of family and fleshly values, and a flame-shooting Telecaster hero. If his 15-song event albums were the sum total of country music, it would still be a pretty well-developed medium.
– – Writing for Entertainment Weekly, Chris Willman gives the upcoming Brad Paisley album a solid A.

He’s a hack. But being a hack in country music, that’s the job. He aims to please and he’s sort of ticking off boxes all the time. You feel it, within individual songs and over the course of an album. He’s like ‘Now I’ve got a funny song about a girl on a dock getting a suntan and a guy who’s ogling her and I’m gonna crack X number of jokes and then I’ll do a guitar solo and then we’re done.’ He has his moments of not quite fulfilling his potential.
– – Jody Rosen (who wrote the NYT “This Is Country Music” feature linked to last week) with a more sober take on Paisley, in conversation with Ben Ratliff on the New York Times’ weekly audio Popcast.

There are any number of singers and groups working the shallow end of the originality pool. I’ll name just a few examples that spring to mind. Hot Club of Cowtown recreates with love and skill the small-band swing and hillbilly jazz music of the 1930s and 1940s. Dale Watson and Wayne Hancock, also from Texas, mine various postwar electrified honky-tonk veins. The Beau Hunks bring to life early orchestral broadcast music. I’d cite the group in your town that makes people happy by doing note-for-note versions of Led Zeppelin favorites, but I want to emphasize the artistry — a value, I feel, that is not incompatible with a high degree of non-“originality.”
– – Robbie Fulks doesn’t think a lack of originality is necessarily a bad thing.

… when I die, they’ll figure out that I probably wrote more songs about girls than I did about anything else. I mean, I don’t think I’m a political songwriter as much as I am just a political person. I think it’s in my fabric. So it just never occurred to me that music wasn’t political. I mean, making art in America is sort of a political statement in and of itself. It’s not the best environment for that sometimes.
– – Steve Earle on his reputation as a political songwriter.

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  1. says

    If all Steve Earle did was political stuff, I’d never listen to him. But as it is, he’s good enough at what he does that I like even most of his political songs, barking moonbat or no.

  2. ChurchsChicken says

    Jody Rosen accuses Paisley of being a hack and then says that in country music, being a hack is the job. This puts Paisley in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. Apparently his job is to be a hack, and presumably if he “fulfilled his potential” by being less of a hack, he might well be out of a job. Surely it is harder for Paisley, who makes money off of his hack songs, to quit producing such stuff than it is for Rosen, who presumably makes no money from such songs, to excoriate him for such production. So it seems like Paisley’s choice is: Please the critics like Rosen and avoid the hack label but at the expense of not doing your job OR do your job, continue earning money and pleasing your fans, but risk the scorn of critics such as Rosen.

    Anyway, though, is Rosen’s comment all that justified? She accuses Paisley of not living up to his potential. But would Paisley’s music be better (more “potential-fulfilling”) if he ditched the cliches (the guy on the dock) and the lyrical forms (crack X number of jokes then do a guitar solo) that Rosen seems to insinuate are the tools of the hack? Perhaps these tools actually make Paisley’s music better than it would be if he did not use them. How are we to know that the non hack Paisley would be making better music than the hack Paisley?

    Moreover the charge that Paisley repeats the same stuff over and over again could apply to many great artists. George Jones songs and albums had their formulas. Mark Rothko and Alexander Calder seem to have gone to the same well many times over. The same goes for many great writers.

    Why should we accuse Paisley of being a hack when he goes to the same well over and over instead of praising him for “exploiting fully the musical potential” of those cliches, tropes, and forms?

    I also think that Rosen’s comment is interesting in light of Robbie Fulks’ remarks on originality.

  3. says

    Jody Rosen accuses Paisley of being a hack and then says that in country music, being a hack is the job.

    Rosen was half-right. Brad Paisley has gotten to be a hack, but it’s not the job. I know this is a pretty cliched take on it, but I thought of Rosen’s remark as a display of just another “sophisticated” urbanite looking down his nose at country music.

    As for going to the same well repeatedly, some artists mine it better than others.

  4. Rick says

    Gosh, Robbie Fulks listed three of my favorite groups/artists in just two sentences, and I’m not referring to the Beau Hunks. Robbie is showing quite good taste in music here! By the way, back the late 1800’s and early 1900’s strong male immigrant manual laborers were generically referred to as “bo hunks”, thus the band name’s origin.

    Steve Earle is a self-described borderline communist and liberal through and through. It would be surprising if his political leanings hadn’t emerged in his music. As much as that puts me off, it was more of the degradation in his vocals after “Guitar Town” that caused me to lose interest.

    Brad Paisley and his music still absolutely bore the sh*t out of me…

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