Quotable Country – 12/22/13 Edition

In the spirit of the season, I forgive Merle this creepy album cover.

In the spirit of the season, I forgive Merle Haggard this creepy album cover.

Click the bullet after each quote to visit the source.

A lot of “I’m a fan and never got to meet you.” And I’m like, “Wait a minute, how can I never have met you if you’re in Country radio?” And they say, “I was a kid – or I wasn’t born – when you were touring.”
- – Garth Brooks on visiting radio stations, which apparently employ lots of preteens who were not yet alive around the turn of the millennium when he stopped touring. Country radio actually being programmed by 12-year-olds would explain a lot.

We’re Garth. We’re gonna be whatever Garth is.
- – Garth is only just returning and I’m already tired of hearing him refer to himself as a group of people. Looks like a long road ahead.

I find it all challenging – in fact I find it terribly difficult and not particularly enjoyable most of the time. When I teach songwriting workshops, I tell students – this is the hardest thing in the world. And it just gets harder the better you get at it. I think that’s because the target you’re aiming for gets smaller and smaller and farther away the longer you do it. Your standards go up, and you’re less easily satisfied. [...] I suspect that I always have something to say, but accessing it isn’t always easy. The thing about telling your truth, which is what songwriting – and all writing – is about, is that it hurts. It’s always much easier to avoid pain and go shopping or do the dishes or something.
- – Gretchen Peters says songs don’t come easily. So glad she persists in finding them anyway.

There’s still so much that can happen in Nashville, and I look to the future and I want to be a part of it. And I’m not just blowing smoke. I don’t say that about Los Angeles. I don’t think I would move to Nashville. I know I would move to Nashville. It’s a matter of time. And it’s what this place could offer me, to be that outlet for all these different styles.
- – Justin Timberlake figures he’ll probably move to Nashville eventually.

Eat pizza naked.
- – Florida Georgia Line mimbo Brian Kelley on what he likes to do when off the road.

Joel’s wife, Frances McDormand, said an incredible thing while we were doing this, actually. She said the reason that so few actors can be great singers (or vice versa) is because they’re opposite disciplines. The actor submerges his own personality and projects another personality, and a singer projects his own personality. It’s a difficult process for an actor to get into, and it’s very difficult for a performer who’s trained his whole life to project his personality to submerge it and put in a whole different one.
- – T Bone Burnett, discussing (with The Tennessean’s Dave Paulson) the intersection of acting and music in the new Coen brothers film “Inside Llewyn Davis.”

The spirituals, they’re forever alive. I don’t care if you’re Muslim or Christian or Buddhist or whatever your religion is, when you listen to a spiritual song and you really open your heart, you can feel it. You can feel the message of it. Just a simple story. Just break it down to a simple story and take all the religion out of it and the lessons that it leaves you is just like an Aesop’s Fable. [...] And when you hear that in a song with such passion and such spirit and such energy, I mean it still means so much to me even though, you know, I don’t go to church every Sunday and Wednesday like when I was growing up. But the spirit is there, you know what I mean? And it’s alive. It’s just as alive now as it was then. It’s changed form, but it’s alive.
- – Valerie June on the continued resonance of old spirituals.

That will happen at some point in one of my shows, but I just haven’t gotten there yet.
- – Jake Owen on Garth Brooks-style rope swing shenanigans.

GROSS: Yeah. Now, in the mid-’60s or so you started using more heavily arranged settings, you know, strings and orchestras, moving away from a more honky tonk kind of sound. What led you in that direction?
PRICE: The honky tonks. (LAUGHTER)
- – Despite his love of the old honky-tonk sound, Ray Price (talking to NPR’s Terry Gross in 1999) says the reality of eking out a living in actual honky tonks night after night didn’t hold much appeal.

HLN: If you weren’t doing music, what would you like to do?
Sparxxx: Honestly, in a dream scenario, I would be a high school history teacher and football coach.
- – Country rapper Bubba Sparxxx dreams of being a high school history teacher and football coach, which would presumably mean putting his music on the backburner. This is my dream, too.

That’s what initially drew me to country music. The first stuff I heard was Hank Williams’ early country and I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry and, being a lonely kid and not having a whole lot of friends and family around, the content of early country was something that spoke to me. [...] I was kind of a creepy loner and I didn’t have any other talents. I couldn’t really focus on anything and I was never particularly good at school. So that was the only thing I could do! It came naturally to me and it was a revelation. I got addicted to it and it made me feel good about myself.
- – Lindi Ortega, seeming to suggest that there is a path to country music other than being a jock all through school and picking up a guitar after some kind of sports injury. I am skeptical.

I like some of Britney Spears’ stuff. I know that sounds crazy, but some of it is cool to work out to when I’m on my treadmill. [...] Yeah, put some “Toxic” on, and I’m all about it.
- – Tracy Lawrence.

I just decided several years ago I was going to focus on being happy and remembering the reason that I got into the music in the first place. It was because I was passionate about music. I stopped being negative about it and stopped dwelling on all of this other stuff. [...] You can bicker and complain about how you’re not as far along as you thought you’d be, or how radio don’t play you anymore, but that was never my reason for playing music in the first place. I did it because I loved it, and I think if you get back to doing it because you love it, good things will come back to you.
- – Tracy Lawrence again.

I’m basically a female version of my dad.
- – Krystal Keith (Toby’s daughter), frighteningly.

After Bare rehearsed the line “Supper’s done and table’s clear / baby wants a bottle and I want beer” for a third-grade program on country music at Nannie Berry Elementary School, a teacher asked him to change “beer” to “Coke.” Bare, who has two grandchildren who attend the school, declined to edit the line and didn’t perform.
- – It’s not quite Johnny Cash singing “wishing Lord that I was stoned” at the Ryman, but Bobby Bare did have a recent lyrical censorship dispute himself at Hendersonville’s Nannie Berry Elementary.

I lost my gig due to a Shel Silverstein lyric. Shel always was a rotten old man. It’s Shel’s fault for writing offensively for children.
- – Bobby Bare, cheekily.

I just couldn’t figure out the story. I would listen to it over and over and over again. Who did what to whom? How did the bandit Pancho meet “his match” in Mexico? Did Lefty betray him? It was the first song that really got my imagination going. [...] I even started to do really crude storyboards for what a music video of the song might look like. It was the first time I even attempted to write out anything visual that went to a story. The song really inspired something bubbling inside of me, which was to tell stories.
- – Peter Billingsley, who thankfully did not shoot his eye out as Ralphie in “A Christmas Story,” on how a childhood fascination with a famous Townes Van Zandt song portended a life in storytelling.

Everyone have a fine Christmas, and Quotable Country will see you again in the new year.

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