The music news cycle always slows down a bit this time of year, as musicians and journalists alike ease into the holidays (and, in the latter case, work frantically on end-of-year lists). The smaller amount of source material makes this a shorter-than-usual roundup. Next week’s Quotable will be the last of the year, as the feature goes on its customary Christmas-to-New-Years hiatus. So, enjoy these last couple installments of 2013 and discuss some stuff in the comments.
Click the bullet after each quote to visit the source.
I don’t mean to sound negative. I love country music right now, it’s awesome. But I’m guilty of it, too. We all have songs that we’re tending to put out because they’re working and it’s helping our careers. But songs like ‘The Thunder Rolls’ or John Michael Montgomery’s ‘Life’s a Dance,’ they were songs that meant something to people. You don’t hear a lot of those songs anymore. The last time I heard a song that had a lot of meaning and sounded like a country song was Craig Morgan’s ‘Almost Home.’
People were like, that’s real. There are so many songs now, and I have them, too, that are [about] sunshine, blue eyes, a tan. That’s not always real to everyone all the time. Or passing moonshine jars around. People do that when they’re kids, but people also grow up. . . . It’s important to have all kinds of songs. ●
– – Jake Owen. Give him credit for voicing the opinion, and acknowledging his own part in the problem, even if the extent to which such reservations are NOT reflected in his music is rather startling. Also startling: seeing “Life’s a Dance” held up as some kind of benchmark for excellence.
Right now, if anything gets me going, it’s the idea of chasing history. I’d like to be 75 years old and have a charted record. I don’t want to be thought of as that past guy who recorded “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town.” I need to be relevant. ●
– – Kenny Rogers to Juli Thanki.
I told Willie when it was over, ‘That old man gave us a goddamn singing lesson.’ He really did. He just sang so good. He sat there with the mic against his chest. And me and Willie are all over the microphone trying to find it, and he found it. ●
– – Merle Haggard on touring with Ray Price for Last of the Breed.
I think one thing is that I’ve gotten better at the craft, which might not be a good thing. Honestly, sometimes the better you are at your craft, the more the art suffers. That naïve, spontaneous, impulsive thing falls by the wayside. ●
– – I’m not especially familiar with Brendan Benson’s music, but he gives a good interview. Here he’s talking to Brian T. Atkinson for CMT Edge.
Party Down South, a new CMT series from the producers of Jersey Shore, premieres Jan. 16 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CMT, network officials announced Thursday (Dec. 12).
The new one-hour, 10-episode series follows eight young, brazen adults for one wild summer of extreme fun. Their summer vacation spot — Murrells Inlet, S.C. — may never be the same after these fast friends work, party and bond with one another over their common love of the South. ●
– – Oh no.
The culture itself has also changed. Country music is the music of people’s real lives, and those real lives often used to be very difficult, which is why so much classic country contains themes of hard work, toil and sorrow. But now, except for in the most rural areas, the culture has experienced a paradigm shift away from family-owned agriculture, and that shift is apparent in the subject matter of contemporary country. It’s still the music of people’s real lives — it’s just that those real lives are more and more about partying with your friends and cruising around town showing off in your truck, as opposed to losing your crop to an early frost, or burying your brother because he died from tuberculosis. ●
– – The Boot’s Sterling Whitaker wonders: “Is Traditional Country Music Dead?” If Mr. Whitaker truly believes that many people’s real lives don’t still suck – indeed, that they haven’t found ever more complicated ways of sucking – he is simply not paying very much attention. For most folks I know, hard work, toil and sorrow are a lot more real than a perpetual frat-boy existence based around “partying with your friends and cruising around town showing off in your truck.”
Q: Are you more comfortable writing now that you’ve been nominated for a Grammy?
A: I’m not sure I’m more comfortable, but it’s a reassurance that I’m not completely insane for trying. At least someone else besides my wife and my mom think I’m good at it. ●
– – Will Hoge, with characteristic humility.
We have different ways of dealing with things that we don’t like about ourselves. We can get depressed and melancholy and let it weigh us down or we can laugh at ourselves a little bit. When I am honest with people about my problems, I found out we all have the same ones. We all have our issues and our hang-ups and sometimes laughter is the best medicine. ●
– – Corey Smith on his knack for finding flashes of humor in serious topics.
Brandy Clark sings “Get High” backstage at the Opry: