Click the bullet after each quote to visit the source.
‘Download’ and ‘stream’ are different animals. If you download and pay, it’s the same as buying a record. If you stream, it’s just dressed-up piracy. ●
— Rosanne Cash isn’t a fan of Spotify and Pandora.
One day I was delivering the magazine and I was pushing this dolly of bundles of issues, and James Taylor was on the cover. I was going down the street and who turns the corner and walks by but James Taylor? So I pulled an issue out and I just went [deadpans] ‘…Here.’ He had this really surprised look on his face. I just kept going. ●
— Jim Lauderdale on his days as a messenger for Rolling Stone. Lauderdale documentary The King of Broken Hearts is available now.
It’s my saving grace. A lot of people seem to view it as a burden because it does hurt to try to sit down and try to get the words and the music right. It’s not an easy job, but it’s an important job. I have always thought that writing songs and singing was my way of communicating and my way of putting out something that I needed to put out there. […] I do seem to have a life that is pretty tumultuous but I also know that I can absorb it and reflect it back out so that someone else might feel less alone in their own experience. ●
— Allison Moorer on songwriting.
I do write on my own but not as much as since I got my publishing deal. Before that, I didn’t even know that you were allowed to co-write. (laughs) ●
— Lori McKenna. Her new album, including Drew Kennedy co-write, is Numbered Doors.
It’s my understanding that some of those guys at Cedarwood [Publishing] would basically sit over there with binoculars and look outside and go, “Hey, Patsy Cline is going out across the street. Anybody got anything for Patsy?” And somebody would gather up some tapes or reels, and they would just walk across the street. Back then, you could drop in on a recording session. I think that’s how “Long Black Veil” [a No. 6 hit on the 1959 Billboard country singles chart] got recorded. Marijohn Wilkin and Danny Dill wrote that song and they walked across the street, and Lefty Frizzell was recording. They found a piano in the studio … and she played it and he loved it, recorded it, and it’s been recorded how many times since then? ●
— Mark Ford, executive director of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame Foundation, on the early publishing business in Nashville.
Americana values songwriting perhaps above all else – but instrumental intelligence as well. It derives from tradition, while understanding that the degree of tradition evident in any given manifestation of Americana music will vary considerably. The event and the sensibility in play here does cultivate an excellent bullshit detector for music that has no lineage or line, other than a passionate love for money. We gather to figure out how to stay in business while purveying art, rather than building the biggest business by manipulating music and consumers. ●
— Craig Havighurst, in an AmericanaFest report for The Bluegrass Situation.
Our artifacts, our recording studios, guitars, manuscripts, costumes, it’s an ongoing story. Those things are more precious than ever before now. I know we’re a Monday morning town; we create the chart every Monday and new stars every week, and that’s great. But that being said, there is no reason to discard former greatness because former greatness is usually better as time goes on, with wisdom. People shouldn’t be punished for their wisdom. It’s unthinkable to me that Merle Haggard would ever be disregarded. But it happens. My point is: move the whole story forward, not just segments of the story or the latest and greatest flavor of the month that comes and goes. Save the treasures of the whole story, revere the people of the whole story. It’s the family of country music. ●
— Marty Stuart, superhero, on the preservation of country music’s legacy.
On Tuesday evening, a statement said, Bravo Development’s owner, Tim Reynolds, had reached a “sale-purchase” agreement with AMT Trust, a nonprofit based in nearby Leiper’s Fork, Tenn.
The founder of the nonprofit, Aubrey Preston, is a well-known preservationist and real-estate developer who has been working on a project called the Americana Music Triangle, which seeks to promote music tourism and tie together the story of roots music as it emerged in Nashville, New Orleans, Memphis and the surrounding areas. ●
— New York Times on an apparent last-minute save for RCA Studio A. The sudden nature of the deal took even the Save Studio A movement by surprise.
There was some confusion of identity in the Eighties when we lost our way and booked too many Nashville-type country acts. The second time Ray Charles played, I matched him with Lee Greenwood. I look at that now and say, ‘What was I thinking? Ray Charles and Lee Greenwood? One has instant credibility and the other – ugh!’ ●
— Austin City Limits ringleader Terry Lickona, in a nice feature in the Austin Chronicle.
There are hardcore people that [think] if you even have a microphone you’re way too far out. I exaggerate, but you have the hardcore folks. They can listen to whatever they want to but you need variety. You need to have that. You’ve got to have young people coming in all the time. That’s what brings young people in, more progressive sound and variety. I just like variety in music. I think it’s a good thing. ●
— Del McCoury, 75, on bluegrass purists and the continual need for new blood and fresh ideas.
No matter what you do for whom and for what, people are going to like what they like. It’s a shame that people who say they are country “purists” don’t like today’s country music — purists in any genre — because there’s a whole other world, whole other life they’re missing. I’m not trying to change country music but rather introduce people to it. It’s not just about a man, his dog and a breakup anymore; it’s a party with good-looking people. ●
— Dee Jay Silver, somewhat less astutely.
… and people saying that what’s on the radio is not country music, it’s just as applicable to all of these country punk bands, a lot of which are friends of mine, and people I know and respect as coming from a similar musical background or upbringing. But you can say the same thing about bands that are touring and saying, “We’re country music,” and it’s like “Well you’re a bunch of punk kids beating the shit out of your instruments, you’re not working that hard at your arranging or singing.” That’s not country music either. It’s a whole other type of music. So I feel like spending too much time being self-righteous about it as part of my platform as a musician is not something I want to spend much energy on. ●
— JP Harris, sensibly, to Saving Country Music. His new album is Home Is Where the Hurt Is.
I didn’t have a publishing deal, and I was working at Comcast. I had just read The Secret Life of Bees after my grandmother passed away, so I was coming from a very personal place as well as being inspired by the book. I never thought another thing about it. Then, Lee Ann cut it, and Keith Urban sang with her on the song. I was so overjoyed. ●
— Natalie Hemby on writing “The Bees,” a highlight of Lee Ann Womack’s Call Me Crazy.
I think my songs are pretty [open]. I certainly don’t censor myself. That’s one of the things I learned from my dad as a writer. He always said, “Never censor yourself. That’s one of the rules.” ●
— Lucinda Williams, whose dad is poet Miller Williams.
A lot of kids try to sing like George in their own way, and when they do, they try to stretch a word out or make a lot of syllables out of it or something. It was an affectation. When George did it, it was natural. That was his vocal style. It belonged to him, and it didn’t belong to anybody else. No one ever sang like George Jones did. ●
— Charlie Daniels on George Jones.
George liked to have fun. He was a free-spirited, happy-go-lucky, fun-loving guy, and I think that came out in his music. But his fans could never hate him, no matter what he did. If he ever did something wrong, everybody forgave George. I mean, if he was ‘No Show Jones’ or if he showed up and kicked everybody’s ass, he was still great. ●
— George Strait on George Jones.
You and your team are the future of country music. ●
— BMI’s Jody Williams to Thomas Rhett at the “Get Me Some of That” No. 1 party.
Yes. We’re in the process now of picking material. We’re supposed to turn it in the first of January, a new country album. We’re looking for songs and continuing to write, like we always have. […] There’s no new direction except finding great songs and doing it the very best that we can. It’s hard work. You’ve got to listen to a thousand average or below average songs before you find a couple that stand out. So it’s just a lot of work, a long process of going through material and listening to material. ●
— Teddy Gentry says there’s a new Alabama studio album in the works.
And so I went on the road that summer and fell in love with the lifestyle of the road. I got to wear clothes the way I wanted to, I could wear my hair goofy, met cool people, stayed up late talking music 24 hours a day, and I got a little bit of money for it and fell in love with applause, and the spotlight charmed me just right on in. So when that summer was over, it was time to go back to school. The Sullivans dropped me off at the edge of Philadelphia, Mississippi, and I felt like the circus had dropped me off at the edge of town and gone on without me. It killed me. ●
— Marty Stuart (to NPR’s Terry Gross) on touring for the first time at age 12. Stream, download, or view the transcript for all 46 minutes of the interview here.
Roy Acuff and Bill Monroe, Hank Snow and Ernest Tubb, Grandpa Jones and Stringbean, those kinds of characters, they were my buddies too. And whether they were playing poker or getting in their costumes, getting ready to go on stage, or recording or sitting at a truck stop having a cup of coffee, it always looked important to me, like history in motion. ●
— Marty Stuart (to the New York Times) on photographing his heroes and friends.
Which doesn’t mean he’s not strategic in his approach. One of [Blake] Shelton’s signature moves is gently lampooning a device while using it, a means of keeping a foot in two camps at the same time. Last year he scored a huge hit with “Boys ’Round Here,” in which he rapped about not being able to do the Dougie, the popular hip-hop dance; here, he rides a similarly effective groove in “Buzzin’ ” as he admits that his “twerking … still ain’t working yet.” ●
— Mikael Wood for the Los Angeles Times.
When life goes so fast, if you just pause for a minute and look back, you go, ‘Man, I got very far away from what I used to sound like.’ ●
— Blake Shelton, attempting to frame Bringing Back the Sunshine as a return to something. Meanwhile, For the Country Record begs to differ.
“As far as knowledge of country music history, he’s a freak,” says Warner Bros. executive Scott Hendricks, Shelton’s primary producer for the past six years. “He really is. He’s unbelievable. He’ll say, ‘I want that steel sound so-and-so played on this record back in 1982.’ And you’re going, ‘I don’t know that steel sound.’ But he knows.” ●
— From a Shelton feature in USA Today.
If Hank Williams . . . were alive today, he’d walk down Music Row and pop a cap in the ass of everyone he saw. . . There’s a place for [this music], like there’s a place for Bon Jovi, but it’s not country. They need to call it something else. ●
— Justin Townes Earle, making one of those dubious “If Hank Williams were alive today” projections. If Hank Williams were alive today, he’d probably want to speak for himself.
Most of the music on both [Top 40 and country] formats is written by a committee with one goal in mind — to generate income. When something comes along that makes a lot of money, the industry’s move is generally to milk the formula as long as it can. That’s why you have nearly every song on country radio being nearly the same song with different singers, instruments and rhythms. There is less room for songs that aren’t about partying in a truck by a river with tan girls in cowboy boots.
Though the writers are generally more talented than the artists singing these songs, the result is a complete dissolution of the nuances of what makes country country, what makes pop pop, what makes rock rock. When it comes to mainstream, it’s all about what makes money and it’s the true music fans who ultimately lose. ●
— North of Nashville, a “two-man outlaw country band” based out of Maine, interviewed by Mountain Xpress. North of Nashville put out a very good self-titled album earlier this year. I meant to tell you about it months ago. Sorry about that.
There seems to be love songs written about mechanical items. I never thought about using a tractor as some way of getting laid. ●
— Merle Haggard on trends in modern country.
I write just about the same quantity of songs as I always have. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and I still do. I try to get better. […] If I think of something, I evaluate the thought. If it’s worth writing down, it’s worth completing. I have a lot of songs that don’t make their way to a record. But I don’t mess with it anymore unless it’s pretty good. ●
— Haggard again. Different interview.
Well, Bob influences everything, everyone. He’s like the wind. He makes us all bend. I guess I really revere Bob more than most. I felt like I’ve studied Bob all through school; instead of caring much about my studies, I really focused on Bob Dylan. He was the poet I read. He was the fiction I was interested in. He was the mechanic, the physicist I liked. He was just the professor whose classes I most wanted to be in. And all you had to do was just listen. The guy’s got, like, 40 albums out. Each one to me is a masterpiece, even the bad ones. There’s so much to learn about song, about a life in music, about, gosh, everything from celebrity to politics. It’s all in Bob Dylan’s songs. I feel very much like a student of Bob Dylan. ●
— Ketch Secor on Bob Dylan.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: Congratulations to Gretchen Peters, Paul Craft, Tom Douglas, and John Anderson on their induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame today. Here’s Peters with a MusicFog performance of “On a Bus to St. Cloud.”