Quotable Country – 07/21/14 Edition


Click the bullet after each quote to visit the source.

Don’t be a difficult person to be around, whether you’re a songwriter or a business person. There’s just too much going on. There are too many people here that you don’t wanna rub the wrong way. It’s a small town in a lot of ways. You don’t have to hang out with everybody, or be friends with everybody, but people like to work with people they can get along with.
— Jim Lauderdale on survival in Nashville.

Q: You typically write alone. I wonder how much co-writing affects the sound of country, because if you have two people in a room, you have twice as much chance that somebody will say, “This is a great idea, but we’ve got to make it commercial.”
A: Exactly. And that’s one of the reasons that I avoided co-writing, because I knew that some of the idiosyncratic phrases, some of the ideas I had that might have been a little edgy or quirky, I felt like those would be endangered. I felt like those were my strengths, [but] they would also be the very things that might scare people off in the editing process. If I’d been writing “Independence Day” with another co-writer, they might have said, “We have to make this a happy ending.” I think it wouldn’t be the same song.
— Gretchen Peters to Billboard’s Tom Roland.

We only had about eight hours for the recording time. It’d basically take eight hours to try and figure out a new song. (laughs)
— Corb Lund on why he recorded all older songs for Counterfeit Blues (reviewed here).

The best thing is that it fixes the worst thing: pressure. The pressure is gone. Everything is on your shoulders when you’re making a record or doing a gig or booking a tour. I’m always worried if people are going to like it or whether people are going to show up. It’s a weird thing that happens to me when working with Kelly. It doesn’t take half the pressure away, it takes all the pressure away. I feel like I don’t have to worry. Everything is going to be fine.
— Bruce Robison on his duo work with wife Kelly Willis.

Timing has always been my best friend and my worst enemy. When I finally got my big chance with a large label and it looked as if I was finally having a modicum of success, my first marriage was completely falling apart. That takes a toll on your physical and emotional wellbeing no matter the circumstances. I always say, “I wouldn’t wish divorce on even my worst enemy. Well, OK, maybe my worst enemy.” It’s a cycle, so when you quit taking care of yourself, everything else also suffers and falls apart. I made some choices that were not good and ended up with a very different life than what it looked like on the outside. Even though that was a low point in my life, it was exactly where I had to be to see where I needed to go.
— Sunny Sweeney, whose crowdfunded album Provoked arrives August 5.

We love all the artists that we’re picking at, and we love their music. We are fans of “bro country.” But the thing is, we wanted to bring a fresh and new perspective to country music. Country music is all about telling stories, and we’re just telling a little different one.
— Maddie & Tae’s Tae Dye, diplomatically, on “Girl in a Country Song.”

I will tell you the first time we played it out live, we were playing it for Scott Borchetta and Chris Stacey, our label heads. And we were so nervous. So, so nervous. Before we went on stage we were like, “What’s going to happen? Are they going to be mad? Are they going to laugh?” We said, “Well, you know, if they start laughing, we’ll know we did good.” So we started singing it and they were both laughing, so we both said, “Okay, I think we’re good!” And that moment was when Scott decided to sign us.
— Tae Dye again, this time in a Washington Post Q&A.

I travel all over the country and meet men and women who love this music [bro country]. There are females embracing that role that all these men are writing about. So this is a cool song to sing from my perspective; it’s the female answer to what’s happening in country music right now… and it’s very much a part of my personality. [...] The irony is that bro country is male dominated, but women are driving the subject matter. I like what’s happening in country music right now. There is a place for women, if we just find our niche. Don’t fight it; embrace it.
— Maggie Rose, whose greatest ambition is to be the girl in your truck song. Or to do pretty much whatever else is necessary to become “a big player in country music.”

Tompkins and Clawson purposely wrote the song with party-anthem cliches, including whiskey and bonfires, in the first verse but turned those visuals 180 degrees into a song with more serious implications. That shift was completed in the chorus, where a woman peels off muddy jeans — an obvious bro-country fantasy — in one line, but that leads directly to commitment.
“I just kind of threw out the ’10 percent-down, white-picket-fence house’ line,” says Clawson. “That kind of sealed the deal on the song, kind of nailed it home. We kind of got a girl in there a little bit, but then we want to marry this girl, we want to build her a house and raise a family and all that.”
“Panties are now landing on the stage,” adds Tompkins, humorously predicting female reaction to those lines when the song gets performed live. “Rodney is the man at that shit.”
— Just in case you were amazed by how mature and progressive Florida Georgia Line’s “Dirt” is, here are the songwriters talking about it. From a Tom Roland piece in Billboard Country Update.

In 1999, the bandmates settled in a cabin with no running water near Boone, North Carolina, a town known for its old-time-music scene. They made whiskey and sold weed. “You can’t sing about those things unless you’ve been there,” says Secor. “We’re college boys from upper-middle-class childhoods. We’re the one-percenters. But we chose to make corn whiskey.”
— From a great, informative Old Crow Medicine Show profile by Rolling Stone’s Patrick Doyle.

How he got the band together and stayed true to his songwriting is great. And that old rock ‘n’ roll that he plays is just good music.
— George Strait on Tom Petty. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.

I want to keep country… country. Country is guitar. Country is fiddle.
— Dee Jay Silver. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.

I think it’s great what it’s done for the community and the people there love it, and I’m proud of her when you do drive through. If you could have seen a picture of downtown Tishomingo four years ago and see it now, it would blow your mind. It’s unbelievable. It went from absolute ghost town with tumbleweeds and skinny dogs walking up and down the street to, it looks like Pigeon Forge or something around there now. And that is all centered around The Pink Pistol. It’s amazing what it’s done.
— Blake Shelton on Miranda Lambert’s revitalization of his hometown.

Man, you can scare yourself, if you want to. And I refused to scare myself, ever. I’m not saying I did the songs just like George, or I can do the songs just like George. I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is, I didn’t let that stop me from recording some of the biggest records George Jones has ever had. They can make a comparison if they want to, but there’s no way on God’s green earth that I would ever sound like George Jones, or sing them like George Jones. No matter how hard I try, George Jones had his throat, and I’ve got mine. And there’s some similarities in it, but then there’s some that’s not.
— Sammy Kershaw on his tribute album, Do You Know Me? A Tribute to George Jones.

I remember thinking, ‘Obviously they don’t go four-wheeling in England.’ But I found out they like the thought of it, and like hearing about it. Somebody once told me, ‘Your big obstacle is gonna be that white cowboy hat on your head.’ Now I hear people say, ‘You have an advantage with that cowboy hat. You look like what they want someone to look like when they hear country music. They don’t want someone who looks like everybody on MTV.’
— Brad Paisley, quoted in an interesting Los Angeles Times piece on country music as an American export.

If you’re outside the industry, it looks like women are being discriminated against. If you’re inside those rooms when they’re making decisions about what goes on the radio and what doesn’t, it seems like, well, this is a hit and that ain’t. They boil it down simply. Now, that is dominated by male decision makers… Outsiders say, there really should be more women on the radio. Inside those conference rooms, they’re saying… ‘This will move product and this won’t.’
— Country music historian Don Cusic on the perpetuation of “bro country.”

Charles claims to be a pioneer among male country stars who are now painting on their pants. He says, “We were wearing tight jeans before Luke [Bryan] did. Let’s just say that. No, I’m just kidding. I just bust on him.”
Dave adds, “We have more chest hair than Luke.”
Charles agrees, saying, “He doesn’t have any chest hair.”
— Too much information, courtesy of those Lady Antebellum guys.

I don’t listen to it, I don’t know anything about it, but I do know that they didn’t invent bad music, and they certainly didn’t invent the demographic that goes out and buys fifty million copies of it. The giant crews that go on those tours, all those people have families at home that they have to feed, too. There’s so many branches and arms of this industry that people just don’t take into consideration.
— Sturgill Simpson on mainstream country.

But when, in mainstream country they’re talking about class, it is about, “yeah, but we’re making it.” It’s a nostalgic feeling about being working class. I’m going to flip my boss off today and ride off to the coast. But there’s always a sense of, “tomorrow we’ll be back in the grind.” Country music is how we deal with and make peace with the fact of class.
I think we’re all part of this high-glamor pop-culture moment, which I find really odd considering most of the circumstances most of us are living with. I don’t know if that’s escapism, but it just seems to get shinier and shinier, and there’s less discourse around class. And even when it is about class, class is about a bad boss, not about how jobs are changing or how there aren’t enough of them.
— Sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom, quoted in a piece on “The Racial Dynamics of ‘Hick Hop’” in The Atlantic.

If you buy a building and then you want to preserve it, it’s a lot easier to do than it is to ask someone else [like Harold Bradley] to give up their inheritance. They ought to sell this building to the right person or persons, and then they could preserve it.
— RCA Studio B owner Mike Curb weighs in on the recent push by longtime tenant Ben Folds to preserve RCA Studio A. Via his Mike Curb Family Foundation, Curb bought and then leased Studio B to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum for $1 per year, in perpetuity.

Garth and I have been very business friendly since our historic success with ‘More Than A Memory’ and its No. 1 Billboard Hot Country Songs debut, which still stands as the only song ever to debut at No. 1 on the Country singles airplay charts. We’ve talked extensively over the years, and as recently as earlier this year, and ultimately the things he wants to do and the deals he wants to strike aren’t aligned with what the Big Machine Label Group has to offer. In 2007, as Big Machine was only in its second year, we were able to execute a ‘services’ radio promotion arrangement. After that arrangement we ceased any service-only agreements, as all artists signed to the Big Machine Label Group are all-in.
— Scott Borchetta gives some insight into why Garth ended up with Sony.

I don’t have anything but great joy for young people and [want them to] be inspired to do whatever they do. It may not be my cup of tea. That doesn’t matter. A lot of people [will] grouse about the next generation coming up and complain. I don’t wanna be one of those guys. You know, they’re inspired by what they’re inspired by. It doesn’t have to be like you like it. It’s their thing. You know, hip-hop is a viable part of these people that are 25, 30 years old today. That’s part of their growing up. We didn’t have any of that when we grew up — I didn’t, so it’s not part of my DNA.
I just think people, at the end of the day, are gonna eventually find things that are authentic to them — whatever that is. To some people, their authentic self is going to be way different to mine. You know, that’s the beauty of music: It just floats out in the air, it’s not a mathematical problem, it’s not a football game where there’s a score at the end of the game, you know who won, you know who lost. Man, it’s just this thing that just floats out there. And we can’t all like the same stuff. It’s just not possible.
— Vince Gill.

In other words, this. Apologies for the tardiness this week, folks.


  1. the pistolero says

    I admire Sturgill Simpson’s diplomacy. And he does have a point. Bro-country still sucks, though. And he made it clear in the previous graf that it wasn’t his thing. Nicely done on his part.

    Like I said at Saving Country Music, I can hardly believe that Maggie Rose is prostrating herself before the bros like that. It leaves me more than a bit aghast.

    I didn’t see the Strait bit about Tom Petty coming, but it doesn’t surprise me that one legend of American music would think highly of another legend of American music, even if they’re from different genres.

    Sammy Kershaw may be right about him not sounding exactly like George Jones, but I still bet he nails those songs like no one else but the man himself.

  2. says

    Brad Paisley is quite wrong to think “Obviously they don’t go four-wheeling in England” and that “they like the idea of it”? I can’t say I see the fun in it myself, but my brother and most of his friends do it a lot.


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