Quotable Country – 11/03/13 Edition


Click the bullet after each quote to visit the source.

I write what I write because of who I am and where I grew up culturally, and it’s kept my career smaller than it could have been, probably, because people haven’t quite known what to do with me.
- – Steve Earle to Vanderbilt students.

Just in case country radio wants to start playing somebody brand-new and brilliant and one of the most profound songwriters that’s come out of this town in years and years, you might want to take a look at Brandy Clark. I’d stand on Hank Williams’ coffee table and preach that. That’s good stuff.
- – Marty Stuart to Peter Cooper.

I wouldn’t give you 30 cents for what I did in the ’90s compared to these days.
- – Meanwhile, Stuart is a bit less enamored of his own ’90s output.

And then the heartbreaking thing, we were mixing that record [Blackbird on a Lonely Wire] at one point with Chris Lord-Alge doing some of the mixes. He was unbelievably expensive, like $5,000 a song. … We drove over, we dropped the tapes off — because we were still recording to tape — and we got back in the Porsche to speed back to the studio.
We had gotten four minutes away in L.A. traffic and the cell phone rang and it was Lord-Alge saying, “I got your mix finished. You wanna come back and get it?” We turn around and go back and listen to it and his mix is done. It was like, “We just paid him $5,000 for four minutes of work.” I mean, it sounds good, but I feel like maybe I’m getting ripped off.
- – Will Hoge on exorbitant record-making costs.

Someone asked, ‘Aren’t you thrilled that you opened the door to older country female artists?’ Where are they? Name them. There aren’t any. They let me through the chute, and then they closed the gate. I think there are people that come back at 50, but nobody that started.
- – K.T. Oslin (who, in 1987, had her first hit at age 45) to Peter Cooper.

But life isn’t only a party, it isn’t just about trucks. As the Carter Family liked to sing, life comes with stormy and sunny sides both, and with a thousand shades of sky between. Nashville country used to know that—and knew it regardless of how it sounded at any given moment. The country tradition has long given us songs about feeling pride in your work—and songs about hating your job. Songs about cherishing the small town where you grew up, and songs about feeling trapped there, as well—and ones about feeling both those emotions at the same time. Such songs have been a defining element of what has made country music “country” all along.
But a country music that neglects for too long the down-on-the-ground experiences and feelings of its audience—the marrying and the cheating, the fun and the pain (and the numbing of the pain, and sometimes the transcendence of it), the promise and the regret and more—is a genre in crisis. Maybe even a genre in need of saving.
- – David Cantwell (writing for Slate) on the hope proffered by Brandy Clark and her cohort.

Here’s the reality: the arts have been sacrificed on the altar of technological advancement. If 20 years ago, somebody came to any artist in the world and said listen, there’s this extraordinary new technology, you’re going to be able to send your stuff out everywhere, you, you can get information from everywhere, there are only two things you have to give up: your privacy and your royalties. Everybody would have said are you kidding, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.
- – T Bone Burnett is not a big fan of our digital situation.

Before Shelton set the bar this year, the most memorable item in recent years was the holographic picture of Billy Currington that featured two images as you moved it back and forth – one with the singer’s shirt on – and one with it off.
- – From an Associated Press report on record company promos sent to CMA voters. I prefer to imagine such items have no influence on the actual voting – people can’t be that dumb, can they?

In a weird way, girls like it when a guy’s that much in love with them. So much that he doesn’t want anyone else to have her.
- – Tyler Farr (“Redneck Crazy”) on how girls love it when guys get all possessive and stalkery.

I know everybody’s drinking and having a good time, but we’ve got a lot of children in here. We’ve got a lot of country girls in here.
- – Luke Bryan, pausing a concert to break up a fight. He’s always looking out for the country girls.

But, you know, I kind of enjoy the fact that the first two [singles] did what they did and only went so far on the chart. It kind of adds to the story a little bit. I can go back and always tell stories of when I first got onstage and nobody had a clue of the words. Then fast forward a couple years, and I’m playing this song called ‘It Goes Like This’ in front of 20,000 people, and everybody knows the entire song.
- – Thomas Rhett on how the long hard climb from getting a publishing deal from his dad’s friend in 2010 to getting his first major cut that same year to signing with Big Machine in 2011 to having his first #1 under his own name two years later gives him a really compelling backstory.

I started that stuff with ‘[I Wanna] Talk About Me.’ I think it’s cool to step out and do something like that, I just don’t think it’s cool to make a living doing that. […] It’s cool to step out and do some R&B stuff. It’s cool to step out and do some rock stuff. It’s cool to do traditional country but at the end of the day if you’re gonna be a country artist, I don’t think you just keep making a living off of turning country into hip-hop songs. I think the hip-hop artists would get tired of listening to you do bad country.
- – Toby Keith clarifies his country/hip-hop comments.

This one really makes me sad pard – whatever you’ve got going on with with your attack on Radio now is certainly your business, but when someone said you’d implied that my hosting ACC had something to do with any lack of BnD success at Radio i didn’t believe it – if you remember ABC not Cumulus signed me back in 06 – a big network, but every major network without exception carried the show though out our carrier – i sat down with you and asked you what you thought, and said i would never do it if you thought there was any chance it would not be good for us – you encouraged me to do so – it’s been really fun for me – today our dear friend Reba called to congratulate me on winning the National Air Personality award – i was so excited, and then i read this – i cherish the years we made music and ran the road together -thanks to these fans we certainly got to live the dream.
- – Kix Brooks responds to Ronnie Dunn’s insinuation that his (Kix’s) radio career had something to do with their music’s faltering performance at radio post-2006. Real classy, Ronnie.

I’m sitting in a truck right now. A lot of people are hating on tailgates, and I was having a meeting with my farm manager this morning and we were sitting on the tailgate. Business deals are made on tailgates, virginity is lost. People get sick of everything, but I think a constant is just a way of life. […] The good news for me is once [country fans] get tired of this, we can switch gears really quick. I’m not really worried about it. We’re songwriters, we make [expletive] up for a living.
- – Dallas Davidson, in an interesting Boston Globe article that also includes quotes on the trend from Shane McAnally, Chris Stapleton, Lori McKenna…

The guys who are getting slammed for writing [‘That’s My Kind of Night’], they probably have a ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ somewhere in their catalog that no one will cut.
- – … and Brandy Clark, evidently caught in the most charitable of moods.

Everybody does that, you know? One thing I learned doing the book was how little we really know about celebrities. Even though we may do all these interviews, it’s what they choose to tell us. There’s all this stuff going on in my life that I wouldn’t want people to know. Cash was not alone in terms of hiding things from people. But the thing he said over and over and over again was “I want people to know about the problems in my life, the times I’ve stumbled and fallen and lost my way, because I want them to see, if they have those problems in their own lives, they can eventually be redeemed.” That was his great message, that you always have hope — no matter how much you’re suffering, you’re out of a job, you’re in jail, whatever it is, there’s always hope.
- – Robert Hilburn, author of Johnny Cash: The Life.

Forget ’80s hair bands and today’s pop stars. Almost half (45 percent) of Americans would invite modern country music hit-makers to their Thanksgiving dinner table. When it comes to country, the guys with guitars — like Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, George Strait and Keith Urban — top the invite list (45 percent), followed by sassy songstresses like Miranda Lambert, Kellie Pickler, Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood (22 percent).
- – According to a “Great American Country Lifestyle Report” by Scripps Networks Interactive and Vision Critical.

I don’t know why songwriters struggle. They have to, I guess. If you’re a young songwriter, quit struggling. It makes you look bad.
- – Tom T. Hall, inducting Bobby Bare into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In this business, anyone who comes before you is a god. Anyone who comes after you is a punk.
- – Garth Brooks, inducting Kenny Rogers. (Both quotes via Brian Mansfield.)


  1. says

    Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that Dallas Davidson was saying, “I can’t write about things I don’t know about”? And that trucks and tailgates were all he knew? What’s he planning on “switching gears” to?

    • the pistolero says

      Beat me to it, Occasional Hope. Mr. Davidson’s estimation of his fans’ intelligence seems to be pretty low, as he apparently doesn’t think they’re smart enough to notice he can’t keep his story straight from one day to the next.

      Of course, if he had any respect for the country audience he wouldn’t be constantly rewriting the same clichés.

  2. the pistolero says

    Dallas Davidson sure has a huge chip on his shoulder, for a freaking millionaire.

    Not just that, but he also sounds terribly insecure and defensive, almost like he knows he’s making disposable music.

    And I’d like to know why Marty Stuart is so down on his ’90s music anymore. This One’s Gonna Hurt You was one of the greatest albums ever.

    • A.B. says

      I don’t think Marty is referring to that album because I’ve heard him do songs from it on his TV show. It’s songs like Western Girls and Burn Me Down that have never been sung on his show which I think he might be referring to.

  3. says

    I have read this feature off and on for a couple of years now. Last night, I started at the beginning (2008), and I am reading through to the present.

    You can almost trace the history of country music in those years from the quotes and discussions. Names being thrown around in 2008 are no longer mentioned much. Taylor was just getting started. And no one was talking about Bryan or Aldean.

    Also, a helpful note: Don’t read the posts in backwards chronological order, or you will get confused. LOL

    Thank you for introducing me to Kacey, Ashley, and Brandy.

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