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When it comes to country music, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard have always been a cut above. And when you’re a cut above everybody else, it is because of the songs. Buck and Merle have two of the defining catalogues in country music history. They are Mount Rushmore guys. And they put the honky-tonk beer joint sound into country. Buck and Merle led the movement from croonerish country to twang, running pretty hard as they went. It wasn’t smooth or pretty, but it was life-changing. ●
- – Vince Gill on the Bakersfield Sound.
I have always been a little shy, and music is the perfect icebreaker. I can go play a show in southern California, not know anybody there, play for thirty minutes, and afterward, I have twenty brand new friends, and I’m hearing their stories about where they are from and what they [are] up to. It’s so cool where the music takes you, and how it opens the doors for you to meet them and hear their stories. ●
- – Singer-songwriter Erin Enderlin, whose new EP I Let Her Talk arrives on Tuesday. You can find our own 2012 Q&A with her here.
Alt-rock was everywhere. Everything was big and loud and crushing. Well, I wasn’t doing that. I’ve always struck out on my own, and I’ve paid for it dearly. But I just said (expletive) you guys, I’m gonna be listening to George Jones over here. You want alternative? This is the alternative to what you’re listening to. So I became the one guy in Los Angeles playing honky-tonk shuffles at bar gigs. I’ve always arrived at the party and then gone off to the edges to have my own little party. I don’t know why I’m that way. ●
- – Mike Stinson on coming up country on the LA scene.
Peter Cooper looks at the world with an artist’s eye and a human heart and soul. His songs are the work of an original, creative imagination, alive with humor and heartbreak and irony and intelligence, with truth and beauty in the details. Deep stuff. And they get better every time you listen.
- – Kris Kristofferson on Peter Cooper, whose Opening Day arrives next month.
The young people are, I guess, OK. I don’t know why (some of them) don’t get out and get a job mowing a lawn, but some of them are really great. … But there are some of them, bless their hearts, they’ve all got dreams. ●
- – Billy Joe Shaver on the next generation of songwriters and performers.
I was riding with Billy Joe once to a show. It was a long drive, and he’d exhausted everything he was listening to. He said, “Let’s listen to that fiddle record [of yours].” … Then one of my singin’ songs came on, and he was like, “You know, you could be a songwriter. You could really do that.” … And I was like, “Oh, great. I’m getting fired. That’s what this is.” But that wasn’t it at all. ●
- – Amanda Shires on getting a supportive nudge from aforementioned Shaver.
A: In our neighborhood, it feels like it’s the only place I’ve ever been where people who make what I would call outsider country music are, in general, not mad at people who make insider music. Which always ruins the party for me, when someone has to stop and say that Toby Keith isn’t good. I’m like, “We were having so much fun. That girl just played a goddamn Guy Clark song. You want to talk about Kenny Chesney? He’s not even here. And he makes millions of people very, very happy with his art.” [...] There’s this idea that that person, the big star, was willing to wear whatever he was supposed to wear and sing whatever he had to sing, and “I wouldn’t do that.”
Q: Did anybody ever make a deal like that with you?
A: No, I don’t believe those exist. I mean, somebody might get someone to help them find a shirt. I would, if somebody would do it for me. I guess I have done it. Most of my shirts people give me anyway. But I don’t believe that… First of all, I don’t believe that Dierks Bentley or Brad Paisley is being any more advised than John Prine or Neil Young, really, in the grand scheme of things, if you ask me. Or than me. I seek a ton of advice from friends and people that help me organize all my crap. And I could just as easily send someone for a shirt as a big country singer. I think there’s two misrepresentations there. A, that these people are all changing themselves dramatically to make it, whereas you’re not making it because you won’t. And [B], don’t be so sure that you wouldn’t if that opportunity [presented] itself to you to grab an outfit and take a big paycheck. Until somebody offers it to you, you have to wonder if you’re gonna take it. ●
- – Todd Snider to Kevin Walters on The Tennessean Music Podcast.
i am actually responsible for more guitar sales than eric clapton. i mean 10,000 people see him play and maybe 5 guys get the bright idea “i’m gonna do that” and go buy a guitar the next day.
a hundred people come see me perform and each one of them thinks “i can do that..and i can probably do it better.” and the next day like magic..a hundred guitars sold. ●
- – Ray Wylie Hubbard status update on Facebook. Thanks to Ken Morton, Jr., for the tip.
Whatever our musical tastes, we cannot be afraid to advocate for the musicians. It’s up to us to acknowledge and share their work. If we claim to value art, then we need to actively support artists, not just complain if they don’t receive the recognition we feel they deserve. If you’re unable to purchase music (in this economy that may be be something of a luxury for many), word-of-mouth is always welcome.
We cannot be dismissive of others or exclude them due to age, gender, and background. We cannot afford to rudely criticize still-developing “12 year old girls” as if they are brainless dolts who are not coping with their own dilemmas or snark about “old-timers” who look back at their cherished musical past with longing eyes. When we embrace people and invite them into our own spheres, more often than not we find allies, not enemies. ●
- – From a lovely piece on loving music by Carolyn Dixon at Goodnight Hestia. Read it!
Bruce [Hornsby] and I love each other and respect each other. We probably cancel each other out in the voting polls, but that’s OK, too. In music circles, some people call me a zealot or a Christian fanatic, but I want to love people, accept people and be a friend to them. Different points of view on stuff is good. ●
- – Good man, Ricky Skaggs.
The door swung open and [Johnny] Cash was playing Cowboy’s Gibson guitar and singing ‘The Wabash Cannonball,’ while Cowboy was dancing with a martini on his head. This was early afternoon. ●
- – Marty Stuart on his first time meeting Cowboy Jack Clement.
Luke [Bryan] is on a jaw-dropping path right now. You’ve only seen the beginning of Luke Bryan now. He’s easily got a 10- or 15-year career where he’s on top. He’s got the magic, whatever that magic is. ●
- – Butch Waugh, industry consultant and Academy of Country Music’s chairman of the board of directors, with a foreboding forecast.
Since Tim McGraw has been a member of Big Machine Records, everyone has witnessed an incredible surge in popularity and demand for his musical releases and live performances. His sales and airplay results rival the best of his career. And we’re just getting started…
- – Scott Borchetta, responding to a District Court’s dismissal of another Curb Records lawsuit against McGraw and Big Machine Records. I don’t see this ending any way but death match.
I’m not a summertime guy. The only time I really enjoy the summer is touring and performing because there is nothing else for me to do at home. It’s too hot, and you can’t farm. You can’t hunt. It’s too hot to fish, like that old song. So I just would rather be out here doing this. ●
- – Know all those songs (sung by guys like, say, Blake Shelton) about how great it is to be a country boy in the summer? Not all that accurate, says Blake Shelton.
Welp, who was arrested before a Toby Keith concert in June, jumped out of his pickup at Broadway and Morgan around 3:30 p.m., cracked open a beer he grabbed from the truck’s bed and, unprovoked, began screaming racial slurs at a black man driving the car behind him Saturday afternoon, police said. ●
- – One Pennsylvania man has been arrested twice this summer for racially-charged bias intimidation at country concerts, first at a Toby Keith show in June and then at a Blake Shelton show last night. Shouldn’t Shelton and Keith be publicly shaming this idiot?
I just quit wasting my time thinking about it because the best work always comes from writing for yourself. Writing stuff you know about rather than, ‘What would George Jones like?’ Or, ‘What would George Strait like?’ ●
- – Guy Clark on writing for himself.
It’s one of those things where a good country songwriter is somebody who can write songs for the fans and not themselves all the time. I try to write what other people can relate to. ●
- – Greg Bates on writing for others.
Q: Does the fact that you don’t like to talk about politics come straight from your parents – that they were members of opposing parties?
A: I think so. On voting day, us kids would all hide to watch ‘em holler, you know. Mommy would go down to vote, and she’d vote Democrat, and Daddy would go down and vote Republican. And they’d meet and just holler at each other [laughs]. ●
- – Loretta Lynn, one of this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients, to Rolling Stone.
I like “country” gadgets: guns, cookouts, fishing, hunting, bonfires, fireworks, fiddles, steel guitars, string bending guitars, loud guitars, etc. — but I like the people and the core beliefs that a lot of us seem to share the most. As a whole, we believe in God. We believe in our country — flaws and all. We drive pickup trucks and American-made cars, drink beer, whiskey… tequila every now and then. ●
- – Ronnie Dunn, reciting cliches for Taste of Country.
I have a lot of anguish about how little civil discourse we have. I think it’s crucial that we learn to talk to each other. And really, more, I think it’s crucial that we learn how to listen to each other. ●
- – High five, Kathy Mattea.