Click the bullet after each quote to visit the source.
I was just about ready to tell him to go get f–d, but we got it. ●
— Merle Haggard on studio time with perfectionist Don Henley.
It’s still a thrill, still exciting, and still scary. It’s physically demanding. And at my age, 78, I don’t know if I can stand up there 90 minutes or not. I asked my manager, “When’s the last time you tried to sing for an hour?” And he said, “Hell, I can’t even watch an hour!” ●
— Merle Haggard (to Men’s Journal) on performing live.
I grew up on all American country music, that early country music anyway, so I’m just pretty much ripping off you guys and then coming back here and charging you to watch me sing it. ●
— Kasey Chambers, who just released Bittersweet here in the States.
It seemed that perfect blend of something a little different but also something that was in popular culture. Everyone wears bandanas. ●
— Everyone, really? “Blue Bandana” co-writer Ben Goldsmith.
When you see 25,000 people with their hands in the air going crazy, you’re like, ‘Shoot, maybe we can record songs that can sound like that.’ ●
— Thomas Rhett on rerouting his career after seeing the live response to “Uptown Funk.”
And it really is about sort of re-assessing what you’re gonna do at a point when you start to understand that it’s not happening the way you expected it to. So it’s just this little town, Faded Gloryville, where you visit. And I always like to say that you have to pass through Faded Gloryville to get to paradise, or what your version of paradise is. ●
— Lindi Ortega. Her new album, as you might have heard, is Faded Gloryville.
Like I said, a lot of these things are for a good cause, so maybe they were buying tickets just to help out as much as they were to see me. ●
— Dolly Parton, humbly, on selling out two benefit concerts in Nashville.
When we went on the Florida Georgia Line cruise last year, me and Cole Swindell hosted a bingo thing together on the cruise and played shows together. We called each other Kenny and Tim. ●
— Thomas Rhett, less humbly, on being a rising star.
If I start putting too much pressure on myself, that’s something my mama is there to help with. ●
— Cancel all critical comments I’ve made about Cole Swindell. Turns out he loves his mama.
It’s always an imperfect art. The only time a song is perfect is right before you write it. After that, you try to do as little damage as you can. ●
— Gretchen Peters on songwriting. This whole Flashpoint sit-down with Peters and Barry Walsh is recommended reading.
I’m kind of picky about songwriters, you know. But when I heard Southeastern, it just killed me. I loved it. I like songs that are clean and don’t have much fat on them — every line is direct, and all people can relate to it. That’s what I try to do, and that’s what Jason does. I really haven’t heard anybody that different in probably 30 years. ●
— John Prine on Jason Isbell.
With karma too, it’s like, ‘What have I done to deserve this?’ That’s always the wrong question. It doesn’t matter. The only right question is ‘What do I do now?’ That’s it. ●
— Jason Isbell to Rolling Stone Country’s Patrick Doyle. Nice feature.
When Bryan started a rendition of another crowd-pleaser, Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” it was fitting — he has built a career out of being more willing to dance than the competition. His go-to move at this performance involved caressing an ever-present baseball hat and wiggling his hips at the same time. Kill the Lights‘ title track may be the purest distillation of Bryan’s love for gyration: it’s a slinky, crisp tune indebted to Queen’s 1980 hit “Another One Bites the Dust.” ●
— From a Luke Bryan live review by Billboard’s Elias Leight.
Q: In terms of change, do you think speaking up is going to be what turns the tide?
A: I actually feel that it is, because there’s more and more stuff coming out now where people are speaking up in defense of their bro-country. They’ll make some negative connotation of what outlaw country was—”I’m not that”—and then they talk about how country’s gotta evolve and it seems like they’re being quite defensive. I think the reason they’re being defensive is it’s because people are speaking up, because people do want to see it change. ●
— Lindi Ortega on speaking up about the sorry state of country radio.
He said, ‘If you can’t hear and understand every word, you’re playing too much.’ And that was like a light went off, you know? ●
— Charlie McCoy, legendary member of the Nashville A-Team of session players, on early guidance from guitar ace Grady Martin. From a nice NPR segment on McCoy by Jewly Hight.
It’s not necessarily country music; it’s just that country radio plays us, and they’ve given us a home. ●
— Zac Brown Band’s Clay Cook.
Because the songs are really honest, people think they know you — and they’re supposed to. If you’re writing these particular kinds of songs, and you’re doing it because you need to get something out, and your primary reasons for making music or making art is to explain the world to yourself, listeners are gonna think, “Alright, there’s always some of the creator of this music in the stories that it’s telling.” They feel like they know you. I like that about it, I really do, I think it’s a huge part of making a connection with people. That’s what I needed when I started making music in the first place. ●
— Jason Isbell to Jewly Hight. Great interview.
Sometimes you just hear something and you feel it. You don’t really know how to explain it. And sometimes when you lose someone you just go numb and music is the only thing you can feel. It helps to remind you, ‘OK. I still can feel something.’ ●
— Ashley Monroe.
I don’t know that I don’t fit in the country music industry. I do quite prefer to do things on my own, aside from any industry. I’m not a very industrious person. I’m more of a singer and a songwriter, and I have a pickup truck and a gas card. And that’s why I get around and play my music for people. I enjoy meeting people and I enjoy singing. The parts about it that I didn’t enjoy, I really didn’t enjoy at all, and so I quit doing those parts.
I think it’s OK to be my level of success, or my level of celebrity, or whatever. I chose this for me. I could be a lot bigger. There’s ways to go about becoming more popular. I don’t want to do that. That’s got nothing to do with writing songs, and it’s got nothing to do with traveling and singing, or being me. And I’m not willing to give up the parts of me that I’d have to give up to gain things like that. I don’t want to be famous. I’m happy being almost famous. I don’t have to be successful. I’m happy being almost successful. I’m successful by my own standards because I’m happy. ●
— Jamey Johnson gave an unusually lengthy interview to AL.com.
I got really burned out by the middle of the last decade by making records by committee. I’m sure I’m not the one to coin that phrase, but I made a lot of records with a lot of people in the room, trying to tell me how to make a record. After 14 or 15 goes at it, I’m pretty sure I know how to do it. ●
— Pat Green.
I’ve had this commercial career that never really made me happy. I got to the place where it felt like it was everything but the music, which was disorienting, because so much of what was done had nothing to do with the music, let alone country music, art, or the appreciation of those things …
And I was very blessed. I got to open for George (Strait) for several years. But, playing arenas isn’t about music as much as what’s on the radio, what’s up-tempo that people recognize. You’re not making music, as much as a sideshow. ●
— Lee Ann Womack.
New country music is pretty, but it’s not what we started with. Country music is about lost, period. It will be if they don’t do something right away. ●
— Loretta Lynn.
For a while, it was about having a big voice or looking hot. Now I think it’s coming back around to having something to say, which I think is great. I hope that becomes the new norm. ●
— Kacey Musgraves on music.