Click the bullet after each quote to visit the source.
In the last several years, a lot of the songs about women have been written in kind of an objectifying way. If you didn’t wear cut-off jeans or a bikini top, or sit on a tailgate and drink, then you really weren’t worthy, you didn’t really add up. But ‘Wild Child’ is telling some girl out there that’s got dreams, that’s a free spirit, who’s smart and interesting, that she has a chance, that she is worthy. ●
— Kenny Chesney, in a nice, thoughtful Radio.com cover story.
The story I love to tell is this girl who was probably 16 and in the front row singing every word to every country song, and I started playing ‘Let Her Cry,’ and she sat down because she had no idea what it was. ●
— Darius Rucker on being an old guy.
Swift pauses, searching for a metaphor that will help her explain herself. “Have you heard of the Loneliest Whale? There’s this whale – I think Adrian Grenier is making a documentary about it. It swims through the ocean, and it has a call unlike any other whale’s. So it doesn’t have anyone to swim with. And everybody feels so sorry for this whale – but what if this whale is having a great time? Because it’s not bad that I’m not hopelessly in love with someone. It’s not a tragedy, and it’s not me giving up and being a spinster. Although I did get another cat.” She laughs. “I asked around: I was like, ‘Does two cats count as cats?’ But then I thought, what imaginary guy’s perspective am I thinking about this from? Someone is going to think I’m undateable for a lot of reasons before they think I’m undateable because I have two cats.” ●
— In her Rolling Stone cover story, Taylor Swift is the loneliest of cat-owning whales.
But at a certain point, if you chase two rabbits, you lose them both. ●
— Taylor Swift on
rabbit hunting officially going ‘pop.’
If you were here in the ’90s, I never thought I’d be the guy they were calling the traditional guy. I was the guy they were calling a rebel, the guy that wasn’t traditional. And now when they look at you and say, ‘You sound like the most traditional stuff,’ it’s because I’m just being me. I’m just guilty of being myself. ●
— Garth Brooks.
I’m 107 years old. I can’t sing like this for 11 nights straight so you’re going to have to help me. ●
— Garth Brooks, requesting audience participation at his first (of 11) Chicago concerts.
If I tell you only one thing about Brooks, then you would understand every ‘humble’ thing his career has done. He majored in [advertising]. I do like the guy as a person. Some [of his] songs are Ameripolitan too. If anyone is on the fence to see either me or him, go see him. I may not live as long as Garth, but I’ll likely never be able to retire, so I’ll be back around. ●
— Dale Watson on Garth Brooks. I’m sure Mr. Brooks is thrilled to learn that some of his songs make the cut for an ‘Ameripolitan’ genre he hasn’t heard of.
I wrote that sitting on my couch, with a baby, an alcoholic ex-husband, and a house that we couldn’t afford. We got suckered by the people who told us we could own a home. I couldn’t see a way out, so that came out of me. The guitar is therapy for me. I like to think I wouldn’t have followed through with it, but I ended up writing a song instead. ●
— Angaleena Presley (to The Song Survives) on “Housewife’s Prayer.”
I loved country singing. Nothing will ever steer me away from believing that Webb Pierce is one of the best country singers that ever lived. I mean, I own a ring that belonged to him that’s platinum and diamonds. I had to have it when I found it… You hear that intro into [Pierce’s] “There Stands the Glass,” the way that [his singing] climbs up like that sounds very similar to me, in a different octave, to something that Otis Redding would do, you know? ●
— Justin Townes Earle.
To get into those areas that are really deep, you need to [be] getting into the areas around here. Here in Tennessee, in Alabama, in Louisiana, to live it, eat it and breathe it. When Johnny Depp did Hunter S. Thompson, where was he? He was living in Hunter’s basement. No disrespect to Rodney Crowell, but there’s two Hank Williams walking this earth right now. ●
— Hank III thinks Hank Sr. biopic star Tom Hiddleston (a Brit being coached by Rodney Crowell) isn’t as immersed in the culture and history of Hank as he should be.
“I don’t go shop at Gucci. I don’t drive (a) Mercedes-Benz. I go muddin’. That’s what I do. I get home and I look forward to mowing my grass and drinking beer. It sounds crazy and really cliche, but I do. That’s why I moved to the country, to sit on a tractor and do all that. It’s just part of my lifestyle.”
Farr says he’s just writing what he knows.
“So I am gonna have songs that have partying and hot girls and pickup trucks. I drive a Chevrolet 2500 HD. It’s got a six-inch Pro Comp lift kit. I’ve got a bloodhound and two dwarf pigmy goats. I’ve got a baby Labrador named River, and my closest neighbor is a mile away. Put it this way. If I don’t know anything about vacuums, I’m not gonna be a vacuum salesman. It’s as simple as that.” ●
— Tyler Farr on singing about what he knows, which doesn’t include vacuums.
I’m not exactly saying that, as a new artist, you have to fit into most of what the headliners are doing, but there’s a part of you that feels like it has to put out songs that are hits. If a new artist wants to put out some sort of off-the-wall, crazy deep ballad about the sun or whatever, it might be hard to get traction. It’s so much easier for someone established to put out a really heartfelt, deep song and get it played in radio. ●
— Thomas Rhett says the biggest stars are the ones most able to get deep, heartfelt songs on the radio – and so presumably the ones most to blame when there’s so little of substance on the radio? Here’s looking at you, Luke and Jason.
I can’t hang my hat on songs like (‘Beachin”) that I would call ditties. But I can hang my hat on a song like ‘What We Ain’t Got.’ Because it literally makes people think about their own life in a way that ‘Beachin” never would. ‘What We Ain’t Got’ will make a guy go home and hug his wife and tell her he loves her. We all, as artists, have to have songs that take us a step further. ●
— Jake Owen, who is hopefully just big enough to improve the radio situation.
While that is as far as he’ll go in his disappointment — “I’m not going to jump up and down and pitch a fit” — Aldean does think the snub is at odds with his stature as a superstar of the format. “It does suck a little bit when awards season comes around and you feel like you’re, as far as artists go, you’re up there at the cream of the crop, and to get overlooked like that is upsetting,” he says. ●
— Jason Aldean on his conspicuous lack of 2014 CMA Awards nominations.
I don’t think you can necessarily blame it on a style of music. That stuff happens at any concert, any ball game. It’s unfortunate. […] I hate it, but, at the same time, we’re performers, man, not baby sitters. ●
— Jason Aldean again, disclaiming any ‘bro country’ responsibility for the rash of bad fan behavior at country concerts this year.
People always say “You seem to always be so happy.” But I’m not always happy. Nobody is happy all the time. I’m a very sensitive person. I’m a songwriter, so I have to live with my feelings on my sleeve. I have to not harden my heart, because I want to stay open to feel things. So when I hurt, I hurt all over. And when I cry, I cry real hard. And when I’m mad, I’m mad all over. I’m just a person; I like to experience whatever the feeling is and whatever I’m going through. But I have a good attitude. And I was born with a happy heart. I’m always looking for things to be better. ●
— Dolly Parton to Southern Living magazine.
… I usually start by mentioning that Tom T., Kris Kristofferson, Mickey Newbury and John Hartford changed the very language of country music, bringing a literacy and emotional clarity that was completely different than what had come before, that appealed to good old boys and presidents, to academics and grandpas, soldiers and hippies, teachers and students.
But, man, that’s nothing. What Tom T. did was grab hold of song form, shape it to fit his peculiar sensibility and brand it so clearly that anytime one of us tries to take it for a ride we’re immediately spotted, and convicted of theft. ●
— Peter Cooper, in a nice appreciation of Tom T. Hall for American Songwriter.
I think there were girl singers out there that could out-sing me, but they didn’t want to work for it. I’m glad that I had to work for it, and I did work hard. If it would’ve come easy, I wouldn’t have been as happy. I’m glad that I went for years without a band. I’m glad that I had to ride in the back of a car from one place to the other. If I had to sleep, I slept sitting up. I’m glad I had to work hard to do it. Them that runs out and gets a bus after one record, they’ll never stay. It’ll be one or two songs and that’ll be over, and I’m glad it ain’t me. ●
— Loretta Lynn to Nashville Scene.
A lot of times, the songs that are pitched and published, and that whole publishing machine, have a very strict format: Strict in the format of the song, in that it’s verse-chorus, verse-chorus-bridge-chorus, and there’s not much wriggle room. I’ve never been able to lock into that very well, and I don’t know why. “Merry Christmas From the Family,” a song people know me for, is a song I wrote because I was so frustrated with Christmas, and I was making up something to amuse myself. When I played it for somebody, they fell on the floor laughing, and I went, “Wow, that’s pretty good. I thought it was a joke.” So I’ve always been somewhat outside, and not exactly able to connect with what the classic thought is, or what the thought of the day is. ●
— Robert Earl Keen to Nashville Scene.
Q: Do you pay much attention to mainstream country these days? Anything interesting to you?
A: Oh, God, no. Are you kidding? No. It’s not the lack of talent, necessarily. It’s just the production on the albums – I just can’t stand it. There’s that guy Jamey Johnson, he’s amazing. He’s great. And there’s a handful of ’em. But I don’t know. Some of these girls now, you hear about them, and somebody says, “Oh, she’s really different. She’s really pushing the envelope and really edgy,” and all that. And I go, “OK.” I listen to it, and I go, “Really? This is edgy?” ●
— Lucinda Williams to Rolling Stone.
The thing about modern country that I hear is, it doesn’t have any depth at all. It’s just so shallow, and the songs that are written now are just written about a certain young age group, and I don’t think it’s really connecting with my age and older. I’m 60 now, and I think country music has really wanted a younger audience, and it got what it wanted. […] But the music that we’re hearing today sure is different. And I know that I was different when I came to Nashville, so I’m not saying that different is bad. I don’t know, I think, to me it’s okay to have the new — but don’t throw the old away. I think there should be some artists who can come out and survive doing traditional country music. They’ve got to go farther back than Garth [Brooks] and Keith Whitley. They’ve got to go back to the well, where we can draw from that time period. ●
— Ricky Skaggs to The Boot.
I think that sadly, a lot of the songs that are big hits on the [country] format don’t necessarily shed a good light on people from the country. You know, everybody wants to tell you how country they are and what being country is, and I’m like, just write about something that means something to you. Let us have a look into your life. The country will come through if you just write. Sadly, it’s almost reinforcing a negative stereotype. ●
— Corey Smith.
I’m also in the middle of shooting a massive series, I Can’t Stop Loving You, about country music. And I’ve begun shooting a film on the life of Ernest Hemingway. ●
— Yep, that Ken Burns country music documentary is still happening.
To me, Miranda is the most important country artist to come out in the last 20 years. And she came from one of these [music competition] shows. That’s how she got her record deal. So anybody who calls out people for being on these shows can kiss [the collective] ass of some of the most important artists that we’ve seen in all of music, as far as I’m concerned. ●
— Blake Shelton defends music competition shows. He might be biased.
That was a thrill. Merle approached me to make a record, and it just blew me away. I thought he wanted to do all of his songs on the record, but he insisted I do six or seven of the ones I popularized over the years. It’s ready to go, we’re just looking for a distributor. ●
— Mac Wiseman on his duet album with Merle Haggard.
The main thing I do is write songs, but they call these things disciplines for a reason. [When you’re an artist], nobody tells you when to go to work. You just worry about justifying your f**king space on this planet. ●
— Steve Earle, quoted in a nice American Songwriter feature on his inaugural Camp Copperhead songwriting camp.