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You know, I would say no. I would say they’re pop artists making a living in the country genre. I also feel like we lost our genre. I don’t feel like I make music for a genre anymore, and I did, you know, 10 or 15 years ago. But I think since the Clear Channels and the Cumuluses and the big companies bought up all the chains, now it’s about a demographic. You know, so they’ve kind of sliced everything up, feeding it to the public in demographics. ●
- – Gary Allan, in response to a question from Larry King on whether Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood are country.
To me country music has always been the home for a great song. If I hear one more tailgate in the moonlight, daisy duke song, I’m gonna throw up. There’s songs out there on the radio right now that make me be ashamed to be even in the same format as some other artists. [...] You can look and see some of the same songwriters on every one of the songs. There’s been like 10 number one songs in the last two or three years that were written by the same people and it’s the exact same words, just arranged different ways. ●
- – Zac Brown, who I’m guessing is not a big Dallas Davidson fan.
I love Luke Bryan and he’s had some great songs, but this new song is the worst song I’ve ever heard. I know Luke, he’s a friend. ['That's] My Kinda Night’ is one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard. I see it being commercially successful, in what is called country music these days, but I also feel like that the people deserve something better than that. Country fans and country listeners deserve to have something better than that, a song that really has something to say, something that makes you feel something. Good music makes you feel something. When songs make me wanna throw up, it makes me ashamed to even be in the same genre as those songs. ●
- – Zac Brown again, getting even more candid. I wonder if he maybe didn’t foresee these remarks getting around the way they have, given that he was talking to a Canadian radio station?
You know, there’s bad music in every genre out there. Has Tom listened to a rock record lately? Has he listened to any of pop radio at all? I mean, holy smokes! There’s always been good and bad stuff out there. I think there’s some great country music being made right now. But for the most part I think it’s all in different places that you have to go find it. But I will stand Kacey Musgraves’ record up against any ingénue who’s trying to make records. I think it’s incredibly honest and incredibly well-written, incredibly well-produced. I challenge Tom to go get himself a copy and go listen to it. ●
- – Radney Foster, questioned – as everyone has been lately, it seems – about Tom Petty’s comments critical of mainstream country music.
It took a few years, but now Bear Family is probably the best reissue label in the world for these musical genres. Even if we’re not better, people think we’re better because we were the first ones who produced extensive booklets; such as 40 – 60 page booklets in comparison with other companies producing 4 – 8 pages and that would be the end of it. I always wanted to produce a good documentation, especially with CDs because in the beginning I didn’t like CDs and that’s why I did the big box sets so that I could include a large book with photographs which you can’t have with a single CD. A lot of other labels just have 6 – 8 pages with photographs included, but the images are stamp size which I don’t like. ●
- – Bear Family Records proprietor Richard Weize, in an extensive feature (including a visit to the Bear Family headquarters in Germany) by Famous Last Words’ Nathan Olsen-Haines.
But these women are outliers — exceptions that prove the rule driven home by all those girls in the country top twenty. When women turn up on country radio, they’re usually fantasy figures, collaged together from back issues of Maxim and Field and Stream: hot chicks, in jeans strategically shredded For His Pleasure, doing modified pole dances in a pasture, behind a barn, in the glare of their boyfriends’ pickup truck headlights. Sometimes, in songs like “It Goes Like This,” they are sung to — but they’re not doing any singing themselves. They’re ornamental: pretty scenery at a sausage party. ●
- – Jody Rosen: “Does Country Music Have a Problem With Women?” Yes. The answer is yes.
The matter-of-factness is key. Musgraves and Monroe situate their songs squarely in the rural South and they sing with wry, companionable charm. They’re not sanctimonious big-city outsiders; they’re your sister, your daughter, your colleague or your bartender. As formerly radical causes such as gay marriage and marijuana decriminalisation steadily gather mainstream support, these women address alternative lifestyles as if they’re no big deal. ●
- – British GQ’s Dorian Lynskey picks up the ‘2013 as Year of Country Women’ thread.
* The number of songs in which a male narrator addresses a woman as “girl” is 14 — of those, two songs begin “Hey, girl” and one song begins with “Girl.”
* There are seven narrators who either long for a girl to ride shotgun, or are already lucky enough to have a girl riding shotgun.
* There are six songs in which a girl is taken, will be taken, or is desired to be taken to a very country-sounding location. (Not included in this count is “Little Bit of Everything,” as it is debatable whether Keith Urban would like to dance by himself in a creek beneath a disco ball hung on an oak tree, or if he would like a girl to be present for the event, too.) ●
- – Writing for Nashville Scene, Casey Black offers an amusing/disheartening “Breakdown of the Lyrical Content of Billboard’s Top 20 Country Songs.”
The younger girls are being pushed by the industry to keep putting albums out that all sound the same. Part of the problem I have with the modern Nashville sound is that while I don’t think most of the songs are that great, I would still love to hear them stripped down. I don’t care for the production of it; it’s overproduced, it’s too slick.
When Shania Twain’s popularity exploded, I tried to separate everything away from her voice. I remember saying to myself, ‘She’s got a unique voice, but the production is so over the top.’ If you strip all of that away, they’ll begin to stop sounding the same. ●
- – Lucinda Williams.
I didn’t want anything to do with music at that point, in terms of [education], but English, you know, reading poems and plays and literature, really transformed my songwriting. To me, there’s a before and after. The songs I wrote before college, and the songs I wrote after. And basically, the way I put it is that I found my writer’s voice when I was in college. ●
- – Darrell Scott on studying English at Tufts.
Looking at how I was at 12, 13 or 14, the time when I was getting into music, I was already into all kinds of American history. I wanted to know where the country came from and where people came from and why we are the way we are. I wanted a philosophical and historical mind-set. At the same time, the quality, purity and honesty of the music — it all painted this portrait, just like American literature did, of what this country really is. The tone of the acoustic instruments, the high lonesome sound, the cries I heard when these artists would sing. … It gave me a deep appreciation of mankind in general. ●
- – Pokey LaFarge on his love of early blues and country.
I met Merle Haggard once outside his bus. Didn’t really talk much. He just seemed a little grumpy and tired. But Buck Owens, when I met him, he was always full of energy. I’m a big fan. He always treated us like gold. And that was interesting, because he always had some sort of side deals going on. ●
- – Gary Allan on meeting his Bakersfield progenitors.
Back then, to put a string section on a country session was pretty blasphemous. Our version of the strings, if you will, might be drum programming or a synth bass, but they’re as radical now as the strings were at the time. And they will be passe very soon. In about a week. ●
- – Keith Urban on the Nashville Sound of the 1960s and today.
I think everything – NASCAR is always evolving, country music is always evolving. All forms of something is changing and evolving. I’m not one of these people that sit back and say ‘Those were the good old days’ or ‘Things aren’t like they used to be.’ It’s just the natural progression. ●
- – Luke Bryan on the same topic, making Keith Urban sound like a genius.
That particular version is off of a collaboration record of duets that George Jones did in the ’90s, called the Bradley Barn Sessions. My dad brought that CD home around the time I got my first guitar, and that’s that song and the record that I learned to play guitar to. It was about 5th grade before I got a guitar. I played banjo for a couple years because I had been to [the Opry] and saw Mike Snider playing, and wanted to learn. But I always wanted to get around a guitar, and so, I finally did! ●
- – Charlie Worsham on learning to play guitar to the George Jones/Vince Gill recording of “Love Bug.” His other favorites include “Springsteen,” “The Bottle Let Me Down,” “All Kinds of Kinds,” “Liza Jane,” and Darrell Scott’s “Uncle Lloyd.” This guy knows what’s up.
It’s got to be one way or the other. You either sing or you worry about your ribs. ●
- – Loretta Lynn on returning to the stage – in a cotton-candy pink gown that looks to weigh about 40 pounds, no less – just weeks after breaking some ribs. You will be nowhere near this badass at 81.
Deana Carter makes her Opry debut singing “You and Tequila.”