Quotable Country – 10/12/14 Edition


Click the bullet after each quote to visit the source.

The first time we ever wrote together, we were finishing each other’s sentences. No record label, no one other than the man upstairs, can put something like that together.
— Tyler Hubbard says Florida Georgia Line is God’s gift to humankind.

‘Dirt’ is our favorite song we’ve ever heard, or one of them. Even if you’re not a songwriter, everyone wished they wrote it. We got to the end of that hook, and it was chill-bump city is what we call it. We’ll talk about that forever. That song is a song I think we moved to Nashville to write. We didn’t write it, but we knew immediately that was our song.
— Meanwhile, Brian Kelley explains that he and Hubbard had no part in writing the song they came to Nashville to write. So game over, then?

I think when Wave on Wave and Three Days, those two albums in particular, were starting to get really good response on radio and I was going out on big tours with acts like Kenny Chesney… At some point I had to realize that this is my career and everybody has an opinion and really, it’s not their lives, it’s mine. But I do think it’s natural once you get more and more of a public persona under your belt, people just tend to have an opinion about you. But it’s better than them not talking about you at all!
— Pat Green (to Rolling Stone Country) on those persistent ‘sellout’ accusations.

Fame is a velvet challenge. It provides constant affirmation, but it also puts the famous at a distance from the people who adore them. That distance exists even in proximity. There’s a clear sense of who is wanting and who is wanted. There’s someone saying “Please” and someone saying “Thank you.” And there is a constant series of clipped interactions, like a bride might have at a heavily attended wedding reception.
— From a fine Peter Cooper feature on Doug Seegers, a 60-something street singer whose debut album, Going Down To The River, was just released on Rounder Records here in the States.

Well, I had just gotten out of the service myself. I always thought one of the great mistakes they made in the service is if they spent half the time that they do getting you ready, and the intensity that they put you through in basic training for combat, if they spent half that time bringing you down and teaching you how to be a civilian, it would make a big difference. I would liken it to a person who has done prison time. They all speak of how difficult it is to be back on the street, and how difficult it is to accept freedom once you get used to living incarcerated. So, all my friends that were over there were affected, like I said. I wasn’t writing about anybody specific. I made up the character of Sam Stone, obviously, just ‘cause he rhymed with ‘home.’
— John Prine (to American Songwriter) on penning “Sam Stone.”

I knocked on his bedroom door, reinforced by iron bars. He lay there in the gloom, bullet holes in the walls, a rummage sale of memories stacked on the shelves and on the walls; there would have been more, but the IRS had raided him across the years. Hank Williams, his photograph draped with a black ribbon as if the man in the bed was still in mourning, looked down on me from the edge of a chifforobe. The man himself, even in pain from a half dozen ailments, was still handsome, his hair still thick and wavy but silver now, no longer that burnished gold that had made even the church ladies feel a little funny during “Great Speckled Bird.”
— Rick Bragg, in a lovely Garden & Gun feature on the conversations with Jerry Lee Lewis that would form the basis of new biography Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story.

Q: Do you ever miss living in Nashville?
A: No. Not in the least. I think one of the reasons I got down here [Fischer, Texas] is that I really almost reached the point of obsession there. I’d go to bed thinking about this stuff and I’d wake up thinking about it and it almost put me in a factory mentality where I was comparing my work to others. That’s not a healthy thing for an artist to do.
— Hal Ketchum, whose new album I’m the Troubadour arrived last week.

Music is one more foul shithole of an industry, all in all, no better, no more ethical, and certainly no more glamorous than shoe repair, public accounting, or pornography. You are treated in precise accordance with your perceived value as an economic unit, and your past contributions are not esteemed. I didn’t mean to end my appreciation of my friend’s life on such a sour note, but that’s where I leave him, standing against the foul tides there in his small shop on Main Street in Springfield, doing his best for band after band day after day for a modest rate, honoring the high performers in his field regardless of how their stock in the greater world might rise or fall, lifting your spirits on the phone.
— Robbie Fulks, in a nice remembrance of Lou Whitney, whom he describes as “the last of the deeply funny recording engineer/philosophers of the Old World.”

There was a time, a very long time ago, when I believed in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. But something really tragic happens when you find out the truth about that — and you start looking for magic the rest of your life. It’s a terrible way to live. But I’m starting to believe in magic again. I really am.
— Songwriter Travis Meadows, whose fortunes have been turning of late with major cuts by Dierks Bentley, Eric Church, and Jake Owen.

My general way of going about things in the past has been to follow a path of pure preservation. [...] If I was guessing right now, I would say we would try to make the property look and feel a lot like it did in 1965, and of course this will involve getting pictures from the archives. We understand RCA and New York [have archives], and there are other people who have a lot of pictures. As some of those things come forward and we understand what the building looked like in 1965, when it was opened, that will be very important to how we guide the property.
— RCA Studio A buyer Aubrey Preston to MusicRow.

There’s this wrong idea about me being identified with things that are Southern or country. I do not f**king like country music and I don’t own any of it. I watched Hee-Haw as a kid with my grandmother, I only like country music as an irony. I liked it when I would get drunk.
I suppose playing country music felt like learning how to build a beautiful bookshelf or something. There was a certain amount of honesty that had to be there and it had to hurt. I loved the discipline of that. It reminded me of the challenge of playing punk rock. But me playing country music … it was a false face. It was style appropriation.
— Ryan Adams, whose Whiskeytown was a seminal band in the No Depression movement, in an extensive BuzzFeed feature.

Do you see any time in the future where we might see a raise directly from you as opposed to going through the bullshit you have to go through to deal with a label these days? How the stream of revenue gets to the artist, particularly young struggling artists, it’s really hard for that to actually happen in real life if you’re a young artist. So I’d hope that all the music service groups would kind of look at that. It’s one thing when it goes to the record label. Most of it doesn’t get to the artist, which would be nice.
— Jimmy Buffett to Spotify CEO, who was quick to agree with the sentiment and promise nothing.

Q: You do well with the flawed characters, like the ones in “Chances Are” and “When I Come Around.” They’re kind of a mess, but you want them to succeed. You want them to get to that point where they can get themselves “un-stuck,” so to speak.
A: I know exactly what you’re saying because I was — and I am — that person. Growing up, I was always the shortest kid in class. I was always the worst sports player. Nobody wanted me, and I was the last one picked. And I didn’t really fit in. I knew from an early age that I was going to leave, and I just didn’t feel like I really fit in, so I always felt like the underdog.
— Lee Ann Womack to CMT’s Craig Shelburne.

I think I was listening for songs for my second record, and Frank was the A&R guy for me back then. I was getting on the bus late one night, and he handed me a CD and said, “I think you’d like this kind of stuff. You need to check this out.” [...] I called Frank about an hour down the road when I finally got it on and started listening to it. I was like, “What is this?! Who are these people?” He had been friends with Buddy for a while, and I guess Buddy used to sleep on his couch before he moved to Nashville.
— Lee Ann Womack on discovering Buddy and Julie Miller.

There’s nobody else that’s ever sounded like Reba McEntire, and she’s just a class act, too. I don’t know anybody — and it frustrates me — that works harder than Reba does. We have the same manager, so every time I’m like, ‘Man, I need a week off,’ he’s like, ‘Well, Reba hasn’t really taken any time off in like 30 years.’ … It’s like, ‘Oh, well.’
— Blake Shelton.

Artist-in-Residence, they keep saying. I haven’t seen one place for me to stay yet.
— Alan Jackson, from the stage at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

This was my first hit but it wasn’t my first single. We were so excited when I got my big record contract and we sent the first single out to country radio. They didn’t like it and they sent it right back. I was so bummed. I came home, all down, and Denise somehow got pregnant. I was scared. I thought, ‘Oh no, I’ll have to go back to work!’ Then this song came out and it was my first no. 1 and I haven’t worked since.
— Alan Jackson (from the Hall of Fame stage) on “Here in the Real World.”

Instead of falling behind and following suit with what everybody else does, I’m always looking for ways to go out and try something else. If everybody is — for lack of a better term — copping your style, let’s go do something else.
I tell people all the time, it’s like having a shiny new red truck. If you get a shiny new red truck, it’s really cool until all your friends get the same truck, and then it’s not really that cool anymore, so you need to go trade it in and get another one.
— Even when describing how he stays ahead of the musical curve, Jason Aldean employs truck metaphors.

I kind of thought the lyrics were a little too steamy. I thought the beat was a little too ‘not country.’
— “Burnin’ It Down” co-writer Chris Tompkins doubted the song’s mainstream country prospects.

Former Entertainment Weekly writer Grady Smith helped steer country fans off course. He’s the one behind the controversial “Why Country Music Was Awful in 2013” video that has nearly four million views on YouTube. Smith has since left EW. His country credentials aren’t clear, but no artist before or after the vid was clamoring for the Grady Smith opinion of their music in the same way they do more reputable writers like USA Today’s Brian Mansfield.
— Typically vacuous Taste of Country editorial concludes that the real definition of bro country is “anything sung by a country male that [complainers] don’t like.” So we’ve just imagined up this whole trend. Everything is fine. Taste of Country will be happy to keep accepting your ad dollars and republishing your press releases, Luke Bryan/Jason Aldean/Florida Georgia Line/et al.

When I get into my mid-30s, I’m probably going to switch over to that.
— And by “that,” he means country. Former teen pop singer Aaron Carter, sounding more resigned than enthusiastic. Wikipedia says he filed for bankruptcy to shed $3.5 million in debt last year.

I do think we [‘90s country music artists] were still pioneers of country music. Country music is very mechanical to me now, and while I do think some of it is very good, I think a lot of it is paper roses, if you will.
Back when I first came on the scene, our voices weren’t [filtered in Pro-Tools]. You had to really be able to sing and sound good live. Today, the band comes in [the studio] one day, the singer comes in another day and it all gets processed so neatly.
— Lorrie Morgan.

I’m waiting for a song to dazzle me and make me go ‘Wow,’ the way that ‘Mama Tried’ or ‘I Walk the Line’ or ‘I Hope You Dance’ did. People like Johnny Cash or George Jones or Waylon Jennings weren’t followers. They were innovators. We need more of that.
— Phil Vassar thinks contemporary country is missing great songs.

The Opry is one of those time-honored American traditions. Why should you go to the Opry? The same reason you should go to the White House or see the Lincoln Memorial — ’cause it’s this great piece of American history. We’ve been lucky enough over the past year and a half to get to play it a few times. They’re doing a great job about keeping it fresh and keeping new country music involved. Nowhere else are you going to see Parmalee and Little Jimmy Dickens play together. There’s no other genre of music that has that. There’s no rock & roll thing that all of a sudden has Incubus and Chuck Berry play together. The Opry is incredibly unique in that way. We’re honored. Every time we get to play there it’s just a highlight and it never stops. It never gets less incredible.
— Will Hoge, thoughtfully, on the continued relevance of the Grand Ole Opry.

You can’t help but not get emotional.
— Brian Kelley on playing the Opry – saying, I think, the opposite of what he meant to say.

I don’t see how it never could not be [relevant]. [...] And it’s really one of the most magical experiences you could ever do.
— Thomas Rhett on the Opry. They really need to start offering remedial English at frat houses.

Now in his third decade as a performer, Yoakam reminded the crowd what country sounded like before its artists co-opted other sounds. “Little Sister” and “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke, and Loud Music” combined early rock ‘n’ roll boogie-woogie and shuffle beats with bluegrass twang.
Frankly, the audience seemed indifferent to Yoakam’s charms – his lazy and endearing drawl of a singing voice, the air of mystery to the man beneath the cowboy hat, pulled down over his eyes. A smart re-arrangement of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” passed with subdued response, and significant portions of the crowd didn’t appear to recognize his biggest hit, “Guitars, Cadillacs,” until the chorus kicked in.
— From a Michigan Live review of an Eric Church concert at Van Andel Arena. Dwight Yoakam opened. Or was it Duane Allman? Davy Jones? I don’t remember. Some old guy in jeans.

Vince Gill comes over and he’s got this Telecaster, and he just rips through the song. When I played it back for my guitar players, who are great players, they kind of just looked at me and said, ‘Who’s going to play that?’ The guy is so good you can’t even copy it.
— Alice Cooper on recording “Runaway Train” in Nashville.


  1. Chris says


    – I think it’ll take Divine Intervention to rid country music of the likes of FGL

    – Hal Ketchum provided some of the greatest musical memories of my childhood

    – Was SO glad to see Studio A saved…hopefully I’ll get to work in there one day

    – I never realized how much Lee Ann Womack and I had in common

    – Take all the time off you want, Blake

    – Jason Aldean has the audacity to talk about blazing trails and not following the pack? Stop using drum loops, rap and screaming guitars in your songs then talk to me about following the pack.

    – No, Mr. Carter, don’t come here to country music. That attitude pisses me off more than anything in this genre. People think once their other ventures fail or their careers hit the skids, they’ll just snap their fingers and “become country” one day? NO…to sing this music you have to have a pedigree, a voice, an instinct. You have to know and revere the history and have a commitment to keeping that history alive. Screw you, Aaron.

    – I so miss Lorrie Morgan’s presence on radio

    – Phil Vassar is right. All of mainstream music is missing substantive songs, for that matter.

    – Don’t even get me started about the Opry and how it’s pillaged the very identity of the music I cherish.

    – Dwight is light years ahead of Eric Church as an artist and as a person. It’s disappointing to hear that so many didn’t recognize his hits, but what would you expect at an EC concert?

  2. says

    Ryan Adams is seriously one of the most unlikable people!

    That’s a pretty crappy attitude for a manager of an artist to have. I hope Blake was kidding.

    Good for Eric Church for even having Dwight Yoakam open for him. It’s too bad that Church’s audience didn’t seem to appreciate Yoakam more though.

  3. andythedrifter says

    -It’s really embarrassing that I’ve never heard a Hal Ketchum album and only know like, four songs. I really need to correct that.

    -That quote from Ryan Adams is a huge turn-off.

    -Lee Ann Womack is a treasure.

    -His music has never been my particular cup of tea, but Phil Vassar is exactly right. I can’t remember the last major country hit that I would consider to be an unmistakably great song.

    -That’s a pity that Eric Church concertgoers didn’t appreciate/recognize Yoakam. Unfortunately, it’s not surprising given how poor of a job country radio does of giving exposure to most of the great artists of the past.

  4. says

    I totally agree with Hoge on the Opry. I have been blessed to see a handful of shows over the last couple of decades in person and each one was incredibly special in its own way. They include collaborations of artists I’d never of heard together otherwise, Vince Gill having the audience finish “Go Rest High On That Mountain,” listening to storytelling legends, hearing The Steeldrivers for the first time and discovering new tracks (to me) of artists that were chart-toppers before I was born. And every artist playing the Opry for the first time has had that same reverence for that stage circle, whether their music fits historically in it or not. There isn’t another live performance facility like it anywhere else in the country. For those that criticize Pete Fisher and Opry management, what other live venue location would give residency to the artists that they rely on each and every night. None. It’s a living, breathing museum, capturing an artist’s song so that it can be replayed for generations and decades down the road. Of course it’s going to be modern in ways. It needs to be representative of country music in 2014, just as it was in 2004, 1994, 1984 and a bunch of decades before.

  5. SunsetPark says

    Where to start on these, goodness. Comparing the Blake Shelton/Alan Jackson quotes goes quite a ways toward explaining the differences them and what they create. Alan Jackson makes music he enjoys and doesn’t even consider it work; Blake Shelton has a job to get played on country radio and give him enough popularity to appear on a TV show.
    Jason Aldean…ugh…if we must speak in vehicle terms, no, the point is to get the vehicle that best fits you and your needs and desires, and when people copy you, who cares. You change vehicles when you want and need to, not when your neighbor buys the same thing.
    FGL and Aaron Carter and some others in this…not worth responding to.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>