Quotable Country – 12/14/14 Edition

Click the bullet after each quote to visit the source.

Early on, an artist told me, ‘Don’t be yourself. Perform and be someone else.’ And I thought, ‘That seems like exactly the opposite of what I should be doing.’ Then I had people wanting me to adjust my lyrics to be more appealing to the masses or whatever. I said, ‘No, that’s bullshit.’ I’d rather sell four copies of something that’s real than 4 million copies of something that’s fake.
— Miranda Lambert to Marie Claire.

You cannot expose music the same way you did 10 years ago. We live in an on-demand world, and so to expect that someone is going to sit through linear videos for two hours when they can get any video they want on demand is not realistic.
— Viacom Music & Logo Group president Van Toffler (to Billboard Country Update) on CMT’s shift away from straight music videos toward more so-called ‘event programming.’

[Making a living in music] is such a grind. I look at people who are on the road full time, and have a whole new respect for them. And especially people who have carved out a long term career. They’ve earned it. It makes it hard to feel envious of someone else’s success, because you know they did so much to get there. Every pr piece, every radio station ad, every gig booked, all those little victories come from such blood, sweat, and tears – that was a surprise to me, I don’t think people realize it until they do it. It takes a lot of work to find a little success.
— Good guy Ronnie Fauss, whose new album is Built to Break.

“I think it’s hard to be country when you’re an artist who has substance,” Linsey says, laughing. “I know that’s terrible. It sounds terrible.” She’s talking about herself, but also good friend and co-writer Emily West, a former country newcomer that years later took a leap from the format and became a finalist on ‘America’s Got Talent.’ […] There’s also a very practical reason she’s toying with other formats. Like West and countless other females who’ve looked at what’s happening to women in country music and shuddered, Linsey’s got bills to pay. Only a fool would keep bringing their product to the same store again and again only to be turned away knowing the answer may never change.
— From a Taste of Country feature on Meghan Linsey finding her way post-Steel Magnolia.

I decided to do that for one reason, for Elf, for that movie and how great they did it when she’s taking a shower in the bathroom, and he comes and sits on the counter, and he’s singing along with her. I thought it was just a great song.
— Darius Rucker on cutting “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with Sheryl Crow. Between this and his discovering-Wagon-Wheel-at-a-high-school-talent-show story, he has the market cornered on ‘I’m an oblivious music listener’ origin stories for his recordings.

Shania! A Holiday Treat! Join Gerald Dowd, Chris Neville, Keely Vasquez, Tawny Newsome, Scott Tipping, Jon Langford, Liam Davis, Nora O’Connor, me, and maybe even more people, as we put paid to the fifth year of my Monday residency with a set of songs by the empress of late 20th-c. country-pop music. Or, join my wife in sitting at home and shaking her head in sorrowful disapproval of my happy submission to the rather crass Lange-Twain aesthetic. It’s not ironic. Admittedly a little gay, though. Merry Christmas!
— If you’re near Chicago and won’t be seeing Robbie Fulks and friends at The Hideout tomorrow (Monday) night, I really have nothing for you.

For us, the big difference is how the awards are given out. It’s the only country music awards show that is exclusively based on … album sales, radio airplay, touring data. The winners are all determined by those metrics. We have one award, Breakthrough Artist of the Year, which is fan-voted, but the finalists were determined by airplay, sales and everything, but all of the other awards were determined by metrics. If you sold the most albums, you will win Album of the Year. If your song got played the most, according to American Country Countdown, your song will win Song of the Year.
— Executive producer Mark Bracco explains the American Country Countdown Awards, also tomorrow (Monday) night. They’ll air on FOX. Or, you know… just look at the charts to see who’ll win, thereby sparing yourself all the performances and bleeding ears.

Q: What was the most important thing to you that you wanted to communicate in the film?
A: There were really two key messages I wanted the film to give to people who watch it.
The first is a universal story of someone who creates incredible art that doesn’t fit in the mainstream, faces constant rejection and periods of extreme self-doubt, but trusts in his art and preservers – and eventually his ability and passion is so undeniable that a whole new genre is established around his musical philosophy. This has really resonated with musicians of all stripes, and even artists from other disciplines, based on the feedback I’ve gotten.
The other message is that Jim is a really awesome dude who makes great music, is wildly charismatic and funny and dresses like a boss, and everyone should go out and buy his records.
— From Jim Lauderdale: The King of Broken Hearts filmmaker Jeremy Dylan’s wide-ranging chat with For the Country Record. Recommended reading.

What a moment – it made my hair stand up a little bit. In my entire life, I’ve never felt that way in the studio. When she sang it the first time, we were plastered against the wall. Usually you’re like, ‘That’s great, but let’s just try it again,’ but I remember pushing the talk back button and we just said, ‘Wow.’ And she says, ‘Well, I’m just getting warmed up.’ And I go, ‘Really?’ You just don’t hear people sing like that. Her pitch is just impeccable.
— Christian singer Michael W. Smith on hearing Carrie Underwood sing in the studio.

I had a buddy of mine who told me, ‘If I wrote down the top 10 or 20 songs on the charts, wrote all the lyrics down, and wrote your lyrics down, and gave them to somebody that doesn’t know anything about country music and asked them to pick what’s the countriest thing on there, I think you would win nine out of 10 times.’ So that’s really the way you have to look at it. And if you think about the instrumentation that’s going on out there in country music today, go listen to any of my records and tell me how much fiddle and steel that you hear on almost every song of mine, compared to a lot of stuff that’s out there. Which, there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m just saying, don’t sit there and try to tell me that I’m not something, and then I cut the radio on and I’m like, ‘Really? I’m listening to a freakin’ pop song!’
— Colt Ford is country, y’all.

A lot of things I’ve done in my career at certain points were not considered country. When I came out with “(This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing,” there were people like (George) Jones going boy, what are you doing? So I’m not going to look at these people today and say that’s not country. I have no idea what country is anymore and neither does anybody else, and that’s one of the things I think is so cool about country, that it can’t be confined to this one little box and say that’s what this is… I don’t know why Taylor (Swift) felt like she needed to say she wasn’t country anymore. This album sounds exactly like the last one! It’s funny. She hasn’t burned any bridges with me. She can do whatever she wants to.
— Trace Adkins, weighing in on the obligatory “What do you think of today’s country?” question.

You have to be careful in country music. You have to be sure it’s constantly telling the message of America, especially the middle class. As the middle class is almost disappearing, either going to poor or to rich, the message country music delivers has to be deliberately talking about the issues and problems the middle class has. What’s going on now in America, I think, is making country music ripe for fans. So let’s get away from good ol’ boys drinking beers down by the river and start talking about some of the real issues hitting home – jobs going away, things that are happening that are really influencing the bulk of America.
— Steve Turner, chairman of the board of directors for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Q: Your all-time favorite song?
A: ‘A Country Boy Can Survive’ by Hank Jr. It just covers it all for my lifestyle. I try to think of myself as an outlaw, a badass. And this song covers all that.
— Blake Shelton (outlaw, badass) to PEOPLE.

FINALLY: An excellent Emi Sunshine feature by The Tennessean‘s Jessica Bliss.

New posts, by email, whenever we’ve got ’em.


  1. Sabra says

    I’ve always thought of country music as the music of the working class rather than the middle class per se. Lots of overlap of course, but once Nashville started chasing down suburbia is when it started going downhill. Still, Steve Turner’s point is well taken.

    And looking to the lyrics as your main source of what’s “country” is probably what prompted the preponderance of laundry list songs and dirt road BS. It’s theme rather than words that’s the important thing.

  2. the pistolero says

    That’s not the first time Colt Ford has said the lyrics make a country song, but he’s still wrong.

    I am convinced that Blake Shelton is just trolling us now. No one could simultaneously be so arrogant and have such a stunning lack of self-awareness.

    • Erik North says

      And also the way he, and so many others, throw that overused term “outlaw”–like that makes you some kind of hero, or anti-hero. Compared to Waylon, Willie, Johnny Cash and all those legends, Blake Shelton is a rank amateur, a poseur of the highest order.

  3. CraigR. says

    First Trace Adkins: I have always liked his voice, and in the beginning his music was good. But starting with ” Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” I was done. He is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and has often said anti-gay things and sounded like an ass. Pity because he has a life that could produce a hundred great country songs. But he got lazy. Which brings me to Blake Shelton. His popularity, which was hard won at first, has now made him stupid and arrogant. He is not funny. He is not insightful. He should have listened to Vince Gill’s speech at the CMA Awards. That is way to be a country gentleman. His need to have us all think he is a down home country boy makes me think he is lying. But in reality his ego is on overdrive.

  4. CountryMusic says

    Miranda Lambert’s comment is interesting. She says she rejected the advice of another star who said don’t be yourself, perform and be someone else.

    Yet it seems to me Miranda is playing a character, and a cartoon character at that. Its hard for me to believe those songs really are her “true self” (I doubt that there is such a thing as a “true self,” anyhow, though…).

    Anyway, I like much of her music, and I don’t doubt that she puts a very real part of her into making the music. But her persona comes across not as genuine but as a cartoon character (I don’t view this as a bad thing, either).

    However, I have long been skeptical of the notion that country music is “three chords and the truth” ; and, anyway, sometimes things that are fiction/fake are great entertainment, art, et cetera.

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