Big Takeaways from Sturgill Simpson’s Appearance on the WTF Podcast

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Sturgill Simpson sat down with Marc Maron of the WTF podcast recently, and the hour or so interview was released on Thursday (5-12). If you’re a diehard Sturgill Simpson fan, it would be strongly encouraged that you listen. Below are some of the more interesting tidbits from the conversation.

Listen to Sturgill Simpson on the WTF Podcast

 

On producer Dave Cobb:

“Dave [Cobb] knows how to stay out of the way, but looking back on it, he knows how to … The first record we did was us trying to get to know each other. And I can be pretty volatile in the studio if I’m set on something. And then I realized some days, he was actually manipulating me to get me angry to get a certain emotion or energy out of it. He’s fucking P.T. Barnum man.”

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On Kris Kristofferson:

“We played Willie’s Picnic last July in Texas, and I’ll never ever forget this as long as I’ll live. In the middle of our set, I look over and at the side of the stage behind one of the side monitors, Kris Kristofferson is back there literally with his hands in the air just bootin’ down. I was like ‘What is happening?’ And we come off the stage and we’re in the dressing room, and he walks in and literally, I’m not shitting you, the guy had a tear in his eye. It was all I could do to not choke up like a little bitch in front of the coolest guy in history. Things like that, I’m just glad all of this is happening at 36 or 37.”

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On Jason Isbell:

“[Jason Isbell] is a hero for me. He’s just a good human being. He doesn’t believe me … but I’ve never actually heard ‘Southeastern’ in its entirety. And I haven’t heard the new one at all. I remember Dave [Cobb] and I finished ‘High Top [Mountain], and Dave said, ‘Do you want to hear some of it?’ and I said ‘Absolutely.’ I think we got about four songs in and i said, ‘Man you got to turn it off, I can’t listen to this. It’s too good. It’s too stylistically-realized. If I get into something like this now at a point in my life, everything I write for six months is going to sound like that.”

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On Modern Country:

“It needs to be made fun of. And I don’t mean ‘it’ as in the mainstream, it all needs to be made fun of. People get so hung up on ‘This ain’t real country’ or ‘This is real country’ And it’s like fuck, who cares man? If it’s making you happy or it’s making someone you think’s a dipshit happy, at the end of the day it’s putting a lot of food on a lot of tables, it’s making a lot of jobs, and nobody’s forcing people to go buy this. Obviously there’s a huge demographic of people that love all the stuff that people make fun of. A lot of journalists last year wanted me to get sucked into that conversation and just talk shit and bash it all day long. I don’t have anything to offer there. I don’t even think about it.

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On Chris Stapleton, and the Changing of the Industry:

“People were fed up with what they saw as a lack of recognition for authentic country, but I knew [I] wouldn’t change anything. I got the ‘Savior of Country Music’ title and knew they would be let down. The industry propagates things it stands to benefit from and I knew the change had to come from the inside. A guy like me or Jason [Isbell], we can kick down doors all day but we’re not going to be the ones to walk through them. He’s too nice of a guy to say this so I’ll say it for him. [Jason Isbell] had a #1 country record last year. And I know they submitted it for recognition with the ACM’s and got rejected. So to me, I’m a little skeptical still. I don’t know how much things have really moved forward.

Chris Stapleton is a friend of mine. That guy is a phenomenal talent … because he’s in the inside, he’s in a better position to orchestrate change more so than anybody like Jason or myself or a lot of others could, and I think that’s a great thing. ‘Cause it has to move forward.

[The industry] is welcoming in new ones like Chris Stapleton. But both fortunately and unfortunately I think in the next few years you’re going to see Music Row pumping out versions 1 through 37 of their authentic country singers because they know right now they kind of look like assholes.

Any kind of modern music seems to be rapid, and over top of these bombastic, like a cheesy version of 80’s hair metal, and really shallow, empty lyrical content … Somewhere right now around $8,000 oak tables, meetings are taking place and they’re saying, ‘We look like assholes, and we need to come up with a better alternative.’ Because people are fed up. A lot of people from that world reached out to me. Keith Urban wrote me one of the nicest notes of encouragement I will probably ever get in my entire life. Zac Brown took us out and put us in front of bigger audiences than we ever thought we’d play for last year. So yeah, the artists are fed up. And the people that work in the industry are fed up.