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Something I learned making this record, if you really just concentrate on making the best music that you know how to make, all the other things will find a way to present themselves because people want to help you. That’s been the thing I’ve learned the most during this process. It’s how people are willing—not just the people that have a vested interest in helping me—in helping. Other artists. Other people. They just want to help. That’s been the biggest lesson with me. Hopefully, if you just do the best work you can do, you’ll end up with that. That’s what I’ve ended up with on this record. I’m thankful for that. ●
— Chris Stapleton on finding his way to Traveller.
You know, I’m a law-abiding citizen for the most part. I speed every now and then, pay my taxes and all that kind of stuff. ●
— Chris Stapleton on being called an outlaw.
No one is as good as those guys today. I have respect for all of them who are out there, [but] they just don’t hold a candle to any of those guys. The vocal ability, the soul that they put into those songs. We’re all just picking up their scraps and doing the best we can. ●
— Whitey Morgan on Waylon, Merle, Johnny Paycheck, et al.
Let’s just say he received a louder response when he tossed off his jacket than he did when he sang “All My Friends Say,” his first hit dating back to 2007. But then he shook up a can of beer and shook his derrière — and he had the crowd at first wiggle.
At song’s end, he caught a can of beer from a roadie and smashed it triumphantly on the stage. Bro knows how to party.
And to think Bryan, who turns 39 next month, is nearly old enough to be the father of most of the people in his audience. ●
— Jon Bream, reviewing a Luke Bryan show for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
While it was Underwood who caught Swindell’s eye in Nashville, it was fellow Georgia Southern alumnus Luke Bryan who helped launch his career. Members of the same college fraternity, Bryan graduated well before Swindell joined, but they met when the superstar went back for visits, and stayed in touch. ●
— If Luke Bryan weren’t the sort of guy who kept returning to his college frat years after college, we wouldn’t be
stuck with graced by the presence of Cole Swindell today.
There’s a responsibility, too, that journalists bear on their shoulders when they step up to the role. That responsibility is in not wasting the time of their readers. If you only write positive reviews, then what is the point in somebody reading them? They already know that you’re going to say nice things, so all you really need to do is post a list of albums you’ve been enjoying with links to listen. By only writing positive reviews, you’re negating the role of the review in helping listeners decide what they want to listen to. You are no longer a tastemaker, because although you may be sorting the good from the bad behind the scenes, readers will never be able to tell if you truly are someone with standards rather than just plugging anything that comes your way. ●
— For the Country Record’s Vickye Fisher, writing “In Defence of the Negative Review.”
The point is, it’s not anybody else’s business how political I get. [Laughs] I thought that was what freedom of speech was all about! Why am I disqualified because I’m a musician? And I’m also the musician that I am. It would be different if I was going out there and singing about stupid stuff, but I’m not. I’m pretty smart. And I was raised as a singer/songwriter in an era when singer/songwriters just did this. I don’t think I’ve ever been shocked, but I’ve been bemused, at times, that anybody would even suggest that I didn’t have the right to say whatever I wanted to in my art about politics. ●
— Steve Earle, in an especially fine interview with The Bluegrass Situation.
You know, Guy Clark once told someone that he likes to write with Rodney Crowell because the first hour we just sit and giggle. And that’s how Emmy and I worked and how I try to collaborate with others. You get together; giggle for a while, then start looking under rocks, and you find some chords, and then you know how some of the song is going to take shape. ●
— When writing with Rodney Crowell, prepare to giggle.
That’s a classic oldie, man. That was pretty sick. ●
— Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard on
“Mama’s Hungry Eyes” “… Baby One More Time.” Yes, the Britney Spears song.
I don’t know why everyone decided to be a critic all of a sudden. It’s an exciting time; it doesn’t have to be controversial. Let good songs motivate people to write other good songs. The effect will be better-crafted songs, better country music. [Country music] goes through phases. And if you’re truly a lover of music, why would you complain about the evolution of [it]? We’re not going to sound like Johnny Cash. There’s only one Johnny Cash. ●
— Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley on the current direction of country. Don’t know what he’s on about with the “good songs” bit, but he really likes that Johnny Cash line.
I do have something I want you to put in the paper though. Are you ready? A few months ago I did interview and I got a million letters because they were afraid about what I was saying. I want to make this point: If you tell one of your friends that you are afraid you are going to die they will say, ‘Don’t worry. Don’t think like that.’ If you turn right around and say, ‘I don’t give a shit if I am going to die,’ they say, ‘Oh, don’t say that!’ All I was trying to say in that interview is I don’t give a f**k what happens — I’m up for it all. I’m in, whatever the f**k happens. I don’t have a death wish, but I don’t have a life wish. I don’t have a wish and it makes me really happy. Yeah, I nailed that! You know I nailed that! [laughing] ●
— Todd Snider, addressing the troubled-sounding interviews he was giving a few months back.
[Update: It turns out the key word here is rarely. Just because I’m incapable of predicting the hits doesn’t mean everyone is. I just heard from Scott Borchetta at Big Machine. He’s had a #1 hit on the pop music charts every year for the last thirty. At some point, it’s not luck, it’s your profession.] ●
— If you’re wondering what Scott Borchetta is up to, he’s evidently lurking on Seth Godin’s site so that he can quickly respond to posts titled “You will rarely guess/create/cause #1” by pointing out that he can, in fact, do so. Seems a little beneath him, but whatever.
Thematically, “Pageant Material” is a direct extension of the armchair progressivism Ms. Musgraves displayed on her major-label debut, “Same Trailer Different Park.” She is an advocate of uncomplicated, untrammeled living, more libertarian than liberal. “Cup of Tea” is one of a few songs on this album that are clear inheritors of the open-mindedness mantle she claimed on her first single, “Follow Your Arrow.” […] Ms. Musgraves presents slightly left-leaning values as matters of common sense. “Pouring salt in my sugar won’t make yours any sweeter,” she scolds on “Biscuits,” in language that speaks to and speaks down to small town living. ●
— Jon Caramanica for the New York Times: “Kacey Musgraves and Other ‘Tomatoes’ Give Country Its Bite.” Lots of good stuff in the article, but I especially like “armchair progressivism” as a description of Musgraves’ basic operating mode. Pageant Material comes out this week.
I think it comes from growing up in an area where a lot of kids really cannot be themselves. After high school, my best friend came out to me, and he was like, ‘I don’t feel like I can be myself, and you’re the first person I’m telling.’ That is still a lot of people’s reality. So if a kid feels like they can walk a little taller because of something I sang, I’m inspired by that. ●
— Kacey Musgraves, subject of a Redbook cover story, on why she writes about self-acceptance.
What would we do if Hollywood said they were only putting out movies with all men? Or only movies with car racing? I don’t know which came first, the fans wanting this or the fans only getting this. Either way, it needs to go back to more females and broader song topics. ●
— Sara Evans on country’s woman problem – and also, concurrently, country’s song problem.
I promise you if you bring us great songs, we’ll make you a lot of money. ●
— Mike Dungan to non-woman Shane McAnally.
Newest to the scene is Keith Urban’s latest single John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16 – a song that, like American Kids and Real Life, was co-written by Shane McAnally, Nashville’s most-wanted songwriter and the current king of this new style. The bass-driven track employs the same every-nostalgic-ingredient-in-a-blender strategy as its predecessors. “I’m a 45 spinning on an old Victrola/I’m a two-strike swinger, I’m a Pepsi Cola/I’m a blue jean quarterback saying ‘I love you’ to the prom queen/In a Chevy,” Urban croons in the opening verse. (Mentions of soda and prom, in case you hadn’t noticed, are very important in this type of song.)
John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16 goes on to reference John Wayne, Kris Kristofferson, Marilyn Monroe, the Garden of Eden, Green Day, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Gibson guitars, Wheel of Fortune, Texaco gas stations, jukeboxes, and of course, the titular Johns. Once again, the array of examples all work to evoke a sense of nostalgia for adolescence in the late 20th century, but they don’t combine into a coherent narrative. ●
— Grady Smith, in a Guardian article that also makes the interesting leap of linking this lyrical collage trend to the rise of Pinterest.
It kind of took us out of our comfort zone. We’re learning as a band to not be too scared about things … We’ll always stay true to the country genre, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun. ●
— Charles Kelley on Lady Antebellum’s EDM collaboration. Evidently, country is no fun.
[Dann] Huff instructed the musicians to play it like a rock band… ●
— This is about the recording of the new Billy Currington single, but could just as well be marching orders for most Huff-led sessions.
Of course, like anybody in the commercial country music business, you bend trying to give the label the things that they want and they feel like they need, and I made some sacrifices along the way. And at one point I just looked at Frank and said, I’m tired of this. I really just want to grow up. And that’s where this record started. ●
— Lee Ann Womack on The Way I’m Livin’.
There wasn’t much [Brantley] Gilbert, known for such hits as “Bottoms Up” and “Small Town Throwdown,” didn’t share with the crowd. What he’d do if he sees a man lay a hand on a woman in public: “Stomp his a–.” What he would do if somebody broke into his house: “Shoot his a–.” You get the idea … in case the brass knuckles, wallet chains and tattoos didn’t drive home the whole I’m-an-outlaw schtick. ●
— From a Green Bay Press Gazette review of a Chesney/Aldean/Gilbert/Swindell/Old Dominion show at Lambeau Field.
There was 50 minutes from Kip Moore, of “Something ’Bout a Truck” and “Hey Pretty Girl” fame. He gave the female fans, especially, what they wanted with a sleeveless T-shirt and tight jeans, paired with a very pleasant voice. ●
— From a St. Louis Post-Dispatch review of a Dierks Bentley show.
“I was writing a song called I L.O.V.E Y.O.U. and I was stuck. And I got the idea of parents spelling out the ugliness of their divorce in front of their four-year old child.” He jokingly added, “I think it’s a song that shows country music people knew how to spell!” ●
— Bobby Braddock, being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, on “D-I-V-O-R-C-E.”
The dominant story of our culture is that we can keep adding things on, stacking things on to our lives; there’s an infinite amount of new things we can do and add to our lives. The moment I pick up that smart phone, I suddenly have this whole world in my pocket and that liberates me to do more and more. But the reality is, there’s a finite amount of time and space and energy I have in my mind, in my memory, in my ability to connect with people. ●
— Trent Wagler (The Steel Wheels) on the animating idea of Leave Some Things Behind.
Anybody could write a hit. Anybody. They should write. I think everybody ought to sit down and write themselves a letter every once in a while. You know, it might clear things up for ‘em. ●
— Billy Joe Shaver.
I waited until the blood stopped coming out of my fingers before I picked up the guitar again. ●
— Billy Joe Shaver on losing fingers in a lumber mill accident.