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I’m relevant right now because I was just on last night, but I’m only relevant for a few more weeks, because people forget. I really think you have to move quickly. ●
— Meghan Linsey, second-place finisher on “The Voice.”
I like some of [the new music]. And I’m glad to see the other people involved. I remember when I started playing country music, I was the only cat in the whole place, the only young person, almost. And, back then, I thought to myself, ‘Maybe we could play some music and write some songs that attract some younger folks. Maybe they want to boogie a little bit.’ So we boogied a little. ●
— Don’t expect John Anderson to start complaining about the younguns.
The song is E-minor, B-minor, A-minor to C, which is completely off the wall in terms of what’s been working in Nashville recently, and I think that’s what sold the song. It’s got this Saturday Night Fever-like Bee Gees thing kind of going on with this spitfire, hip-hop, country lyric. It’s a very strange song. ●
— Co-writer Matt Rogers on the new Randy Houser single, “We Went.” Just great.
It’s funny for me to see people approaching middle age singing juvenile stuff. The only reason I can see they’re doing it is it’s working. […] But they want to do it. I’m fortunate enough to do what I want, and I can only assume that this is what they want to do. When George Jones sang about drinking, you got the feeling that he was sorry about it. To me, that’s a real drinking song. There’s an art to Jones or Paycheck or whomever, there’s a feeling of remorse. Now it feels like it’s always party time. ●
— Lee Ann Womack to Baron Lane for Cowboys & Indians.
I feel so blessed to get 100 songs and play them in my truck, and when my boys [sons Bo, 7, and Tate, 5] want to hear that one song over and over and they’re going, ‘Let’s tear it up, up,’ I know it’s right. [The song is] as simple as can be, but there’s a time and a place for a fun, simple song. ●
— Luke Bryan on “Kick the Dust Up.”
In my mind, when you’re speaking down to your audience, I think that’s something that wasn’t always prevalent in country music. I feel like country music used to be more respectful to its own audience and speak about adult themes and tackle highly personal and social issues. ●
— Singer-songwriter Matt Campbell.
I think a lot of people pander to their audience: They pretend to be something they aren’t, because they’re scared of someone not liking them, instead of saying, ‘You know what? I don’t want anyone not to like me, but at the same time, I’m not going to be something else just so you will like me.”
Real artists that have been successful all kind of have that [attitude]. Particularly Eric [Church]: He’s not going to be an asshole just to be an asshole, but he’s not going to apologize for being himself either. That’s a thing we miss, I think, with a lot of artists these days, country artists, too. They’re so scared of being themselves. But why be anything else? I work too hard to pretend. ●
— TJ Osborne, one half of Brothers Osborne.
When you drive through Nashville and you pass our record label, there’s usually a different sports car in the driveway every single day. I’ve never met somebody who has equally as much passion about cars as they do about music. ●
— Thomas Rhett on Scott Borchetta.
I wouldn’t have given me one. I mean, just because a guy says he wants to make a country record… ●
— Darius Rucker on country record deals for old rockers.
Don’t deviate from what works for your brand — it’s a recipe for failure. As a patriot, Greenwood knows he represents a great cross-section of America and is very intentional about not straying far from what works so well for him. He performs military tribute concerts, the national anthem at sporting events and writes books on patriotism. He is conscientious not to stray from his sweet spot. ●
— Entrepreneur on Lee Greenwood: “A Proud Patriot’s Lessons for Operating in Your Sweet Spot.”
Yeah, I think people try to follow what’s been popular, including me. But I’m doing my best to get away from that. I don’t mean get away from the tailgates and trucks and all that, but to do it in a different way. Not every song has to be about that stuff – for me.
And I’m not even talking about country music. Country music’s great. I’m a huge fan of a lot of country music artists. I’m talking about my music. I think it needs more meaning. It needs more depth. It needs to show a deeper side of me than just a guy in a truck, with a girl. There’s way more to me than that.
And that’s something I’ve learned from doing these shows. “I can sing about that. Now, what else can I tell these people about me?” I want to get more depth with my music and I love wording it that way. So many people say, “Country music needs this, country music needs that.” Well, I think country music singers need to figure that out on their own. It’s not my job to say, “Country music needs this.” It’s my job to figure out what my music needs, and that’s what I’m working on. ●
— More evidence of the turning of the bro-country tide? Chase Rice to Pollstar.
I just eat potatoes and stay drunk. ●
— Wade Bowen on what to do in Ireland.
I was going to get pills one day, and I called my wife and was lying to her. I said I was going to my mom’s or whatever. And that’s what drug addicts do. We’re f**king manipulative. I called her and I said, ‘I’m going to get pills. That’s what I’ve been doing. I’m going to come home, I’m going to give these to you, and I need you to help me get off these things. Then I’m going in for help.’ It was the toughest thing I’ve ever done, man. ●
— Mike Farris on coming back from drug addiction. Worth a read: “Mike Farris’ Revival: How a Drug-Addicted Rocker Found God and Grammy.”
8. Do NOT tell the headliner they are “the one artist who inspired you to start writing songs” unless you’re comfortable with the risk of them at some point telling that to one of the other 50 artists to whom you have (sincerely, at the time) told the same thing. ●
— Ronnie Fauss, in his Letterman-inspired list of the “Top 10 Things Not to Do as an Opener.”
We had a lot of outtakes. I didn’t realize how many. That will come out in September. And it is some pretty great stuff. I go back and say, “Damn, we sounded good. Why didn’t we put that one on there?” ●
— Emmylou Harris on the upcoming release of previously unheard Trio recordings with Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt.
When I moved to town and up through the ‘90s, every building on the Row was cranking out songs. Some artists wrote, like Johnny Cash, but the field of singers that needed songs from great writers was big. And record deals weren’t built around co-writes, so artists were free to cut outside songs. Music Row was this giant, thriving, song machine. Every company had its roster of star writers and newbies all aspiring to be the next Troy Seals, Bob Morrison or Roger Bowling. Not much of that remains today. Not on the Row, not anywhere! In the heyday only a few artists were signed to publishing deals. Now the numbers I hear tossed around about the best publishing company mix are like 80% artist-writers/20% craftsman. So if you have 10 writers on your staff, 8 of them better have artist or producer possibilities. ●
— “Fool Hearted Memory” songwriter Byron Hill, in a rare interview with David M. Ross.
If you’re patient enough, a song will tell you what it wants to be. If I said, “Well, I’m going to write a blues song for Emmylou,” then the cart is ahead of the horse. And the truth doesn’t get through. It’s a mental process to create something when the real language of timelessness comes from the heart. ●
— Rodney Crowell on songwriting.
Q: What do the great writers all have in common?
A: They all are such great people. They all are very well read. I don’t mean educated like master’s [degrees] and Ph.D.s, but they all just have such great life stories that they can pull from. They never tried to write the song. They kind of let the song happen and then made it as good as it could be, as opposed to creating the hit of the week for radio. ●
— Mary Del Scobey, former music publishing administrator who worked with writers like Don Schlitz, Paul Kennerley, and Dean Dillon.
Every great song is written as a country song. . . Pairing acoustic guitar and vocal, or piano and vocal, it should sound like a country song. When you break them all down, they’re really country songs. ●
— Neil Giraldo, Pat Benatar’s husband/guitarist/musical partner.
Every day. Sometimes I’ll sing country music – I know it sounds weird. I love to sing that Miranda Lambert song [“The House That Built Me”], and the way it echoes is really dope. ●
— Jamie Foxx on singing in the shower.
Right now it’s just me and my guitar, so that’s kind of blank as far as being able to pinpoint where it will really end up as a finished record, once it’s produced. The biggest difference is going to be stylistically; I’m leaning toward wanting the music to sound more organic than my previous stuff, less slick, maybe. I just want to direct it that way, that it’s all my favorite instruments in there and a really live feel to things and with a contemporary edge to everything. It will just sound different. ●
— Shania Twain on the musical direction of her next album.
I never really did fit in. I always kind of knew the cool kids and was friends with a couple of them, but I never really had that group [of friends] throughout my whole life until college. ●
— Kelsea Ballerini, channeling Taylor Swift.
I’m musically bipolar. I think I might be bipolar for real, but I’m just not sure if I ever got diagnosed by like a real doctor. (laughs) You’re like, ‘oh my God!’ (laughs) I’m just giving you a hard time. But all jokes aside, I have to write both sides. There’s a side to me that’s rowdy and I want to party and all that stuff. But there’s the side my fiance gets to see, that my mom gets to see, the completely other end. ●
— Brantley Gilbert, correctly realizing that joking about mental illness is always hilarious.
Labels and publishers look at [streaming service] Spotify whenever any changes in the industry happen. But every time we as an industry tell Spotify they can’t do something, Google goes ‘f**k off, we’re doing it anyway’ and they just do it. And we have to scrap around after them to make it work. ●
— Eric McKay, head of digital in Europe for music publishing body Warner/Chappell Music.
I dressed like Kurt Cobain and sounded like Merle Haggard. I was kind of a weird combo. ●
— Joe Nichols on his high school years.