Quotable Country – 05/17/15 Edition

Click the bullet after each quote to visit the source.

Somebody booked us together. And we couldn’t figure out who was gonna open the show and who was gonna close it. We didn’t really care, and he didn’t care. He said, ‘If it doesn’t matter to you, I’ll go on first because I can catch a late flight home after the show.’ We thought we had snookered this guy and we were gonna be the headliners.
He did about an hour and a-half of ‘The Thrill Is Gone,’ and we felt like the Partridge Family when we came out. It was so wrong. It was just so wrong.
— Kenny Rogers (to CMT in 2003) on sharing a bill with B.B. King back in the early ’70s.

Besides, he wants his music to reflect a broader range of experiences and emotions than radio playlists do: “I would say that all the singles that I have put out are collectively just a small piece of the artist that Thomas Rhett wants to be.”
— Thomas Rhett, discussing himself in the third person, to Jewly Hight. From a worthwhile look “Inside Country Music’s Conflicted Relationship With Religion” for Rolling Stone Country.

The shuddering-twang guitar work; the hillbilly-accented delivery; the wildly inventive lyric; the hook-filled melody; the blue-collar message. It’s all here, and then some. In a word, brilliant.
— Music Row’s Bob Oermann on “Buy Me a Boat,” as quoted in a Chris Janson press email.

I don’t think the fan base has changed at all. When I was growing up in the late ’80s and early ’90s everyone loved hip-hop. That’s not new. There’s no secret there. But I do blame our format a little bit for feeling like we needed to add that element to our format.
— Clay Walker to The Modesto Bee.

I can’t stand to see outdated rock-and-rollers coming in to play country music. That really pissed me off. We have great singers, great country musicians. There’s no reason we have to dilute it by letting people in the format that don’t have any business being in the format.
— Clay Walker to The Modesto Bee (again).

Country, to me, has always been oversimplified, by an accent, a truck, cowboy boots, a dirt road, a back porch. But I think it’s more about freedom and pride and hard work and the girl. And knowing everybody’s first name in town, you know? There were 1,200 people in my town when I grew up. That, to me, is country.
— Steven Tyler.

“He loves songs, he loves story songs and he loves songwriters,” says Isbell. In turn, the Late Show helped boost musicians within the Americana genre to degrees most artists can’t measure: There’s the fiscal bump, which often translates to a speedy jump in album sales, but it also represents a sign of approval that makes somewhat esoteric acts instantly more digestible and approachable by the public at large. “It’s helped the genre find a home, because it put that kind of music in middle-American households for the first time,” Isbell adds, “and had a lot to do with bringing Americana music to the forefront. I can’t think of anybody else who has done that.”
— Rolling Stone Country, getting in on the Letterman love with “How David Letterman Built a Late-Night Haven for Country Music.” Elizabeth Cook is also quoted.

Nothing that has happened in the last five or six years could have happened back then. I had to live the life of doing other things. There were so many different experiences that I had at the time before I was making music that are what I write about. The way I think about it is if I had put out my first album when I was 21 years old, it would have been awful. I mean, it would have been just wretched. I’m glad I took my time.
— Ronnie Fauss (to Diffuser) on launching a music career relatively late in life.

You’re gambling you don’t win. That you won’t get opted into their talent option — and you’re gambling your autonomy as an artist. I was willing to gamble. The odds were I wasn’t going to be marketable enough for them to sign me. Rock doesn’t sell. Women even less. Then I’m plus size on top of that.
— Sarah Potenza on competing on “The Voice.”

Pageant Material was really inspired by a lot of the classic records and artists I love: Glen Campbell, Jim Croce, Bobbie Gentry, Marty Robbins, Roger Miller, Charley Pride. Records that set an even tone throughout are ones that I usually gravitate towards. So recording this record was really fun and exciting for me because I knew exactly what I wanted to go for.
— Kacey Musgraves, discussing her upcoming album.

I just want to do more. I don’t know if we’ll ever get to where we really want to be. I don’t know who does, except maybe Elvis [Presley] or Taylor Swift or someone. But at this point, I’m really happy to have done as well as we’ve done by just kind of doing our thing. I’m real happy about that.
— John Anderson, whose next album (Goldmine) comes out in a week or so.

I feel very fortunate that I don’t have to write for a publishing company to try to get a cut. I’m not like those Nashville cats where I have to write a song and see if I can get Kenny Chesney to cut it or write a song because I owe a publishing company 12 a year. I can’t recommend this for everybody, but sleeping with the president of your record label—and I’m not talking about Clive Davis, I’m talking about my wife Judy—which is really cool because she says you write whatever you want and I will try to sell the damn things. So that’s a good place for me because I can write about blackbirds and scarecrows singing a Kevin Welch song, I have that freedom. I think the writers that I really like, like James McMurtry and Gurf Morlix and those cats, I feel very fortunate that they can just write, they are not in a box to write for any particular reason except to write the best song they can.
— Ray Wylie Hubbard.

I can only speak for myself, but I think a lot of it has to do with the way we grew up and what we were influenced by — whether that was Otis Redding or Alan Jackson. I would say Zac Brown has been influenced by the same people as well. It kind of goes into this style of music that I call Georgia Music. It seems to connect very well with people in Washington and Oklahoma, as well — just our way of life. It all translates into a competitive spirit and a charming way of talking. I’m not saying that other states don’t have manners, but you definitely do in Georgia, especially the southern part of the state.
— Dallas Davidson, whose charming way of talking includes telling women to “shake it for the catfish swimming down deep in the creek.”

Southernality is kind of throwing words together – Southern and personality together. We all grew up in the Georgia, South Carolina lifestyle, you know, that whole sweet tea, yes sir, yes ma’am kind of cliches about the South — it’s kind of what we’re all about.
— A Thousand Horses lead singer Michael Hobby explains the band’s album title, efficiently repelling me in the process.

It’s very important to me, because I’m not a one-dimensional person, some country bumpkin that likes to eat chicken tenders and ride four-wheelers. I also like the beach. I like Cabo. I like sushi.
— You know, learning that Tyler Farr also enjoys visiting stereotypical Spring Break destinations has added whole new facets to my understanding of him. This guy really gets me!

I put the ring in a Crown Royal bag.
— Tyler Farr’s heartwarming proposal story.

It’s not in my nature to want to be a stepping stone. I’m trying to build a company that’s a destination, where people want to be there — not just, ‘Oh, we’ll settle for that until something bigger and better comes along.’
— Thirty Tigers president David Macias. His company is finally expanding into country radio promotion after seeing several acts it helped build (Eli Young Band, Old Dominion) jump to majors as soon as opportunity came knocking.

Mainstream radio for the most part won’t play an indie guy. Even if we had the money — if we spent the same promotional dollars that the major labels did, it’s still not gonna make any difference, because politically, we’re not gonna be in the game. So it’s pointless, even if you have capital, to try to spend it that way.
— Ray Scott.

I’d have dinner with Patsy Cline. I would order a lobster because to me, lobster represents a special occasion.
— Yep, I’d say bringing back Patsy would be lobster-worthy. Striking Matches’ Sarah Zimmermann on who she’d have dinner with if she could have dinner with anyone. What she’d eat wasn’t part of the question, but – having seen her answer – I’m delighted she chose to tell us anyway.

I see a lot of posing onstage. I see a lot of artists thinking, ‘I’m gonna smile because I think I’m supposed to smile at this moment, and I’m going to flip my hair back because that’s what’s expected of me.’ I feel like that stuff fades. It might work for a minute, but when someone’s truly invested in what they’re doing and [they’re] singing from the depths of their gut, that’s what people connect with and that’s when people latch onto.
— Kip Moore to Yahoo’s RAM Country.

The problem with new bands is they’re not good enough. They hate hearing this. We have people combing the Internet 24/7 looking for great stuff. If you are great — look at the example of Lorde and ‘Royals.’ She was in New Zealand. She was 16 years old. Jason Flom flew down to sign her. She had an iconic song. If you are great, we’re looking for that. We’re not looking to keep you down.
— Bob Lefsetz got interviewed.

The one thing I worry about: Will these young artists still be playing when they’re my age? Are they developing loyalty or are they just getting the downloads?
Artists like myself, Charley Pride, Conway Twitty and Merle Haggard, that’s the advantage we’ve had. We’ve developed a loyal fan base, because (fans) like Charley or Neal. That fan base is going to buy that product whether it’s on the radio or not. They’re a fan of the artist, not just the song.
— Neal McCoy on the state of the music business.

As far as the whole ‘bro-country’ thing goes, there was a band in the ’90s called Pop Will Eat Itself, and I always liked that because it’s true. It’s like all of the popular shit will just eat themselves until the next thing comes along. Everybody keeps saying they want a revivalist movement in country music, but that just means that three or four years after that movement comes through it’ll become uncool, just like Willie (Nelson) and Waylon became uncool.
— Shooter Jennings.

What did country music do to them? They were the best thing in that time period, and where did they go? Jamey Johnson was the Sturgill eight years ago. Did they jump off the ship because the climate was so bad, or did we kill ’em? Do we really like outlaws, or do we just like to kill them off? I don’t know, but at least I feel like the doors are opening again.
— Nikki Lane on past mainstream-courting outlaws Jamey Johnson and Gretchen Wilson.

No one is running around sweating cocaine out of their system anymore. It’s not the Seventies anymore. When people tell me they can’t think about [the business side], it cracks me up. You want to make a living playing music? Well, you’re already doing the work, all you have to do is make money. What’s the problem with making it a business? Money just means leverage.
— Nikki Lane again.

None, really. But people in the business are scared to commit to opinions one way or another anyway, so it’s like, everybody just turns around looking for what somebody else says and then says, “Oh yeah, absolutely!” Nobody’s gonna have the cojones to say anything to me. This is an important story to me and it does feel important in that it starts conversations that may not have otherwise happened. It might give those who are in the silent majority permission to say ‘We’re OK with this,’ as opposed to the louder minority who might not be OK with it. This is all speculation, by the way.
— Chris Carmack, who plays a gay country star on “Nashville,” on what feedback he has received from people in the country music industry.

There are certain types of music where the lyrics aren’t the thing — that’s not the point. And, yeah, I can totally appreciate that. When I hear stuff and I feel like the lyrics are just bad … that bums me out. But sometimes a song is supposed to just be fun and sound cool. It’s not supposed to punch you in the face with lyrical content. So, I can appreciate that.
I don’t have it in me to write that stuff. I wish I did, sometimes. I’ve tried to, but … I don’t know. I can’t do it.
— John Moreland to The Bluegrass Situation.

I’ve never had to work to put myself in a song. I very often have to work to keep myself out of it.
— Jason Isbell on songwriting.

Couple that diffident, strained performance style with an over-reliance on literal pyrotechnics — the finale, She’s Country, almost unfolded as if Aldean’s crew meant to torch the whole stage instead of striking it so Chesney could set up — and Aldean’s set felt like the country music equivalent of the comic book movies flooding the multiplexes of America: no stakes, no real sense of discovery, just cautious and boring maintenance of the brand.
— Jason Aldean got a rough review in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Chesney fared better.

But as far as girls go, it’s not good for women in country music right now. I don’t think a way to combat it is to talk bad about people. I think what you do is write crazy-good songs, get together and do shows, make a sisterhood. You come together! I think that’s happening, and I think there’s gonna be a shift. I got this song title, which I haven’t written yet; I’m calling shotgun on it! It’s “Mama Didn’t Burn Her Bra For Nothin’” It’s like, why aren’t we doing anything? It’s hard to fight something as big as what’s going on right now. But, like I said, the way to do it is to be undeniably great in your art. So, I don’t know. I’m figuring things out.
— Angaleena Presley, in a very good interview with VICE’s Noisey blog. Read it.

For me I think that’s just what I do well. I struggle. Maybe I’m supposed to? Those are the stories I like to tell and connect to. To the point where on Brandy Clark’s record—which is amazing—there’s a song on there called “The Day I Got Divorced” that was actually inspired by my divorce. The day I got divorced. I went from the courthouse to my friend’s writing room and tell about it like, “I got divorced today! Yay!” It was in the papers. So he wrote with Brandy the next day, and was goin’ on about me, and how hillbilly I am. “She got divorced from him, came here and wrote a song!” They wrote “The Day I Got Divorced” that day. My life is crappy enough to make it onto someone’s record!
— Angaleena Presley, inspiration for a Brandy (and then Reba) song? Same interview.

At the end of May I’m starting another record. We probably have 20 or 30 songs. I always feel fortunate that I have time to write. A lot of artists don’t have that luxury. I’d hate to come into the studio and only have six songs.
— Speaking of Brandy Clark, that next record is in the works.

If it means something to me it’s going to mean something to somebody else. That’s important to have in music and songs in general. We don’t have enough of that. Sometimes we just want to check boxes as songwriters. People like songs about this and this and this. It’s real easy to get in box-checking mode when you’re writing songs.
— Chris Stapleton. If you haven’t lately, I also recommend checking out the comments on our Chris Stapleton post of a couple weeks ago for a few laughs.

REMEMBER: Lobster represents a special occasion.

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  1. Sabra says

    I used to be able to appreciate lyrically fluffy songs for what they were, but I think I got too old or too cranky or something. It’s even affected my appreciation of ’60s pop music, about which I used to feel the way folks here seem to about ’90s country music.

    Dallas Davidson comparing himself, even elliptically, to Otis Redding, makes me want to punch him. “Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay” isn’t incredibly deep or anything, but it’s still got more to it than anything I’ve seen out of Davidson.

    Also, and this isn’t really related to anything, Quotable Country is much more tolerable with William Clark Green playing in the background.

  2. the pistolero says

    Wait, what? NOW Clay Walker doesn’t like what’s happening to country music? Uh, not that long ago he was saying that what was going on in country music was “the perfect evolution and it’s the way it should be.” WTF ever, Clay.

    I find it absolutely impossible to believe Dallas Davidson was in any way whatsoever influenced by Alan Jackson. There is more depth and meaning in “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” all by itself than in Dallas Davidson’s entire catalog.

    I love chicken tenders. Especially from Whataburger. And I will freaking OWN IT, because unlike Tyler Farr, I know that multi-dimensionality does not come from what one eats.

  3. CraigR. says

    Chris Carmack ‘s portrayal of a closeted country singer is important for a great many reasons, but for two personal reasons for me. As a gay man who loves country music, I also share a great many of the values and experiences expressed in country music. A great many people can’t understand that because they think being gay is a Jersey wall to being anything else. Carmack’s performance promotes the idea that being gay is only one part of who a person can be. That gay people’s values and lives aren’t diluted or limited by their sexual desires.

    His portrayal also provides a portal for gays to be seen as a vital fan base in country music as we have always been. I suppose even some gay man had a poster of Jimmie Rogers on his wall in the early days. We have influenced every part of country music from the sound to the fashion. A honest, although soapy, character study is a step forward.

    And here in Baltimore when Jason Aldean’s show got bad reviews the sponsors made the City Paper remove the review.

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