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We used to be the genre that didn’t place enough emphasis on star power, and that bothered me. In the last decade, we’ve swung too far in the other direction and now expect every artist to be perfect-looking and ready to play the big stage right out of the box. ●
— Universal Music Group Nashville CEO Mike Dungan.
At some point, me singing about frat party themes is just not going to be realistic. But if I look like a weird old dude up onstage, I’ll be the first one to come to that realization. ●
— Will he really, though? Luke Bryan doesn’t think he looks like a weird old dude yet.
“And to me, the whole freak-out is over with. I think it’s only people in the media or people that aren’t really in the loop asking about it still, I don’t think anybody cares,” he continues with a laugh. “The fans aren’t showing up saying ‘This is bro country.’ They’re getting drunk and partying and singing.” ●
— Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley to the Washington Post’s Emily Yahr.
Obviously I wish there were more women on country radio. I wish there were more men, wish there were more duos, or bands or whoever. But to me? I don’t think it’s just an issue of women and men. I think it’s quality. Men and women and groups — I think quality of the music has got to go up. I think that’s more the issue and not just women, because there are some women who are putting out great songs. And there are guys putting out great songs that aren’t getting heard. ●
— Brian Kelley thinks there should be more women on country radio, but also more men, duos, bands, and whoevers, which makes me think he has probably (and predictably) missed the point.
It seems to me that a lot of the research models that are used negatively impact a female getting up the chart. Historically, it’s always been harder to break female artists. Yet with the exception of a Garth [Brooks], the guys ceiling out at a certain point, whereas the Dixie Chicks, Shania [Twain], Faith [Hill], Carrie [Underwood] and Miranda [Lambert] will continue to sell at a more robust level. If you can break a female act, you’ll probably have a bigger upside with her. ●
— Sony Nashville CEO Randy Goodman.
She sometimes sounds focus-grouped, as if she is considering a run for office. The song that strays farthest from boosterism is the title track, a humblebrag about falling short of beauty-pageant standards. This is framed, albeit disingenuously, as a personal failing; misogyny and body-image issues are not mentioned directly. In another song, Musgraves refuses membership in “the good ol’ boys’ club,” saying, “I appreciate you, but no thanks.” That’s about as socially conscious as it gets. The rest of the album is downright Swiftian (Taylor, not Jonathan). ●
— The New Yorker’s Andrew Marantz on Kacey Musgraves, in a piece that cleverly ties a discussion of Musgraves’ first and second Mercury Nashville albums in with discussions of small-town identity and Harper Lee’s contested sophomore (book) release. Interesting read.
I just want to be free to create music no matter what it is. I happen to be making super-country records right now, but I really love playing different kinds of music, [and] I have a lot of ideas kind of sitting in my head right [now that] I’d love to explore sometime whenever I have the time. ●
— Kacey Musgraves, signaling changes ahead.
It was a very strange vision or goal to have, but it was there in my mind: I wanted people to think I was great but never had the success, and what a shame that was. It was a very immature, very selfish, kind of ‘poor me’ goal to have. But that’s changed quite a bit over the past seven, eight years into [a goal where] I want to leave behind something for my kids — not money but that my name, their name, is important to me, their future, the possibility of them getting a college education, maybe even higher than that. Those are my goals now, and that’s what I want my legacy to be: I want my kids to have a great launching point for their lives. ●
— Joe Nichols on learning to embrace the compromises success sometimes requires.
I’m not shooting for the average. I’ve never really tried to get the most fans possible out of making music. There are a lot of people who are very good at that. I’m just not one of them. I think there are plenty of people on the fringes for me to have a good, long career and still wind up around people who remind me of myself in some ways. ●
— Jason Isbell.
We spent three weeks driving across the country. It’s really big and really beautiful, and we had an incredible experience. You see how great our country can be.
Then you make the mistake of glancing at a TV and the ugly part of life creeps in. ●
— Patterson Hood on relocating his family to Oregon.
It’s surprising to see smart people talk about Swift with such breathlessly positive overtures, not only because—like pop stars before her and pop stars after her—her music is simple and unfussy and infused with inane platitudes, but also because there appears to be something more opportunistic and sinister at play. When Taylor Swift does the mega-pop stardom act, she does it to the tilt. Swift has to be the person with the prettiest friends, the biggest records, the most popular and successful and groanworthily obvious boyfriend. The underdog narrative that the Swift machine has built is one of forced falsehoods; Swift is not coming from behind. She’s been ahead since she started. And watching her collect best friends during a moment in history when womanhood is finally beginning to feel valued does not only feel uncomfortable—it feels evil. ●
— Gawker’s Dayna Evans says “Taylor Swift Is Not Your Friend.”
I was with a group of girls, and we’d been drinking on the beach all day. ‘You Belong With Me’ came on, so I said to the bartender, ‘I wrote that.’ She looked at me and said, ‘Sure you did, lady.’ ●
— Liz Rose, co-writer of early Taylor Swift hits.
The thing that has thrown me and TJ off more than anything is when people tell us they’re huge fans of ours and they voted for us every day when we were on The Voice. ●
— John Osborne (Brothers Osborne) on getting mistaken for the Swon Brothers.
It’s a ridiculous song. Not a lot of synapses firing on this one. ●
— Dierks Bentley, in 2009, on “Sideways.”
It’s tough. So tough. And I do have moments where I think, ‘Oh, I’ll just be a songwriter—I can go home and sleep in my own bed every night and be a songwriter.’ But most of that happens when I do radio shows where no one’s listening, where they just want to get drunk and they don’t care about what I’m singing. And that? I can’t explain how bad that hurts your feelings, how much it hurts that no one’s paying attention to your songs. I would rather go work at Walgreens. Me and Rodney Crowell actually wrote a song with that line in it, and I love Walgreens, I’m not bashing it. I’m just saying that I would rather work at Walgreens than be put in those positions. So I’ve definitely had my down moments. ●
— Ashley Monroe, quoted in an especially nice Paste feature by Tom Lanham.
More than a rebel, she’s the most elegant country stylist of her generation. ●
— Coming from Jewly Hight, high praise for Ashley Monroe.
Q: You took issue with Blake Shelton a couple years ago, when he claimed country music was merely evolving. Why did you think he was off base with that?
A: What they’ve done is absolutely just ignore the roots that are there. If I’m going to come out and say I’m a rap artist now and still do what I do, that’s the equivalent of what they’re doing. They’re successful. They’ve won. It’s the new definition of country music. That’s the reason I had to change the definition of what I do. I had to have a new title, and I’m happy with it. He’s saying that we’re making it evolve. I don’t think you keep any genre evolving by turning it into something else. It evolves naturally. ●
— Dale Watson to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Country music and gospel music and R&B music, at the core of it, it’s all the same thing. You listen to Willie Nelson’s early version of ‘Crazy,’ and it’s country because it’s Willie Nelson. But that same song — same production even — you could hear Otis Redding or Sam Cooke sing it, with no changes, and then what do you call it? You strip away all the rouge and makeup, and you’re left with a song. ●
— Singer-songwriter Anderson East, whose debut full-length Delilah is the first release on Dave Cobb’s new Elektra Records imprint.
I always think, ‘You know, Matthew, I gave you your start, so I’m responsible for your entire career. You never call. You never write.’ ●
— Trisha Yearwood on having young Matthew McConaughey in her “Walkaway Joe” music video.
He was wanting to buy a Jeep. I said, ‘Why don’t you wait? And if ‘Love You Like That’ goes No. 1, you buy the Jeep and I’ll trick it out. I’ll jack it up. I’ll put the tires, the wheels, the tow package, black it out. Whatever you want to do.’ That’s our deal. ●
— Canaan Smith struck an odd deal with the head of promotion at his record label, whose very job – unless I’ve really misunderstood job titles here – is to promote things. Sucker!
With the recent heated debates surrounding the Confederate flag, Gilbert has come under some scrutiny for adapting a variation into his merchandise and backdrop. When asked to offer his take on the firebrand issue, he says simply, “No, man, I can’t do that for you. I appreciate you asking, and I do understand that it may be an important question, but I think there’s enough folks sharing their opinion on that one.” ●
— Brantley Gilbert knows who butters his biscuit.
It’s really just enthusiasm more than anything. It’s not even about how big a girl’s butt is, or how it’s shaped, or any of that. It’s about the enthusiasm level, and the twerking process. ●
— Country rapper Bubba Sparxxx on how to judge a booty-shaking contest.
Not surprisingly, the best thing about this album is the entourage of musicians (read: real musicians) behind Jackson. There are some incredible pedal steel, guitar, and fiddle solos on this album, and the drum and pass pockets are perfect. But to dwell on that would be like saying that you should get excited about eating at McDonald’s because Emeril and Rachel Ray are in the kitchen. And honestly, he’s simply bought himself an album at that point. With $75 million burning a hole in your pocket, I’d hope that no matter how hopelessly mediocre your talents might be, you’d still be able to purchase the right dudes in Nashville to record your music and make it sound good. Other than the session players, there’s just not much going on here musically. Frankly, the best thing about Alan Jackson’s “Angels and Alcohol” is that it’s only 39 minutes long. ●
— From a wildly, breathtakingly obtuse review of the new Alan Jackson album.
But it really drives me nuts when people will make fun of someone for liking something. Like, Nickelback is bad. But there are so many kinds of music, why would you waste time on trying to tell someone what’s good or bad? We all need something. Some people have religion, some people have Nickelback. ●
— Lydia Loveless.