With the Hall of Fame-caliber legacy Waylon Jennings left behind, with all the noise still made about him by traditional and Outlaw performers and their fans, and even by modern-day mainstream performers looking to lend a bit of country cred to their otherwise flimsy country music resumes, you would think the final resting place of Waylon would be a bigger deal.
McMaster University, a research university in Ontario, Canada, recently partnered with phone manufacturer Nokia to study the listening habits of music fans in their new Digital Music Lab. The massive project is researching around 20 million song downloads to attempt to study how we listen to music. As researchers cull through the crush of data, they have been releasing certain findings…
We bitch, we moan, we criticize, we celebrate the symbolic little victories that give us hope that a sea change for country music is imminent, or at least slowly taking hold, even though in many respects things only seem to get worse every year. And we look for ways to implement meaningful solutions to the problems plaguing country music so it can once again become a medium of creativity.
The only thing I hate more than lists is the reactions to lists. I started this list some 2 1/2 years ago and then shelved it from concerns of the reactions and criticisms that come with posting a list of this type. But inspired by Rolling Stone’s recent list of the “100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time” (and disappointed there wasn’t more country music representation), I decided to finish this list and publish it.
I believe it was the Buddha who once said “life is suffering.” And though you would think mainstream country artists who make their living playing music to massive audiences, they have problems too apparently, and recently the biggest one appears to be having to play music that fits within the confines of the country music genre. Oh, the horror.
NASH Country Weekly—recently re-branded to include Cumulus Media’s wide-encompassing “NASH” brand—has posted a survey on their website asking readers “Who Is Country’s Hottest Bachelorette?” Interesting that the authors decided to include multiple women who are known to be in committed relationships in the survey, yet failed to include any women who weren’t signed or affiliated with major labels.
Though decibel levels might be set-in-stone benchmarks, they can’t measure the historic precedent a music venue like Gruene Hall presents, or the spirit of the live performance, reading a crowd, and seizing the moment to deliver a memorable performance. It was Hank Williams playing six encores in 1949 on the Grand Ole Opry stage that launched his career, and country music itself, to superstardom.
“. . . we play all of our own instruments, we write the best songs that we can, and we put harmony on the songs, we have a real band,” Zac Brown said in response to Luke Bryan’s “That’s My Kind of Night” not two years ago. And now the exact criticisms he leveled at Luke Bryan could be leveled at him. But they won’t be.
So apparently Ryan Adams is in the process of recording a complete cover album of Taylor Swift’s recent record 1989 done in the style of the Morissey-fronted British rock band The Smiths. At least that is what he’s alluding to through his Twitter and Instagram accounts, which were dominated with Swift postings Thursday (8-6) as the press and curious fans spectated along.
I guess my first question is why stop there? If you already have 14 songwriters on board, why not go for the world record? Throw the barn doors wide and make a party out of it. You want to contribute a word or two? Then come on in! Order some pizza. String up a piñata. Put a homeless guy on there for shits and giggles. Throw that guy that used to pick on you in high school in the songwriting credits as an inside joke.
When many country and Southern rock fans got their copy of Zac Brown Band’s latest release Jekyll + Hyde, they feverishly ripped off the cellophane, struggled with the stupid sticker the runs across the top edge and never comes off in one piece, and then put that puppy into the CD player so full of excitement and anticipation, they found themselves nothing short of crestfallen and shockingly confused…
The comparisons of Sturgill Simpson to Waylon Jennings never cease, even though in some instances they’re based on pretty shallow and misguided observations. That’s why it’s probably pretty understandable if Sturgill is tired of hearing about them at this point. In a recent interview with Foo Fighters guitarist and Dead Peasants frontman Chris Shiflett (listen in full below), Sturgill once again answered the Waylon comparisons.
If there’s any comfort to be gained from the startling amount of country legends who have so unfortunately left the mortal coil this year, it’s that they passed on without knowing a time in country music when the biggest star of the genre was marketing his music through a sex app.
The legendary Newport Folk Festival is the new old place to discover the music that is righteous and relevant at this very moment in time, however loosely used the term “folk” has become when perusing the fest’s lineups of recent years. The place where Dylan first went electric, and where Johnny Cash first introduced the world to Kris Kristofferson has been working extra hard over the last few seasons…
The idea that Jason Isbell saved country music when his latest release Something More Than Free inched out Alan Jackson for the #1 spot on Billboard’s Country Albums chart has been offered as a discussion topic by cosmic songwriter and east Nashville sage Todd Snider. Above all else, how awesome is it to have the old version of Todd Snider back in our midst?
Boy how the entertainment media loves to ruminate on country music’s female dilemma, and how unfair it is that so many fine and talented female voices are going unheard. It’s the perfect topic for Northeast-based periodicals to piggy-back their political and sociological parallels onto, to prove the patriarchal oligarchy is still very much alive in America’s rural and Southern landscapes.
In one corner you have the wily veteran who’s sold more than 80 million records worldwide and racked up untold awards and accolades during his quarter century career. In the other corner you have the scrappy young upstart who after years of paying dues on the club circuit can now sell out three consecutive nights at The Ryman Auditorium in 30 minutes and is on the tip of everyone’s tongue as the name of one of the best songwriters around.
Jillian Johnson was doing her part to help save country music in Lafayette like so many local musicians do all across the country and world as a member of the six-piece all-female country and roots outfit called The Figs. She played ukelele and sang harmony in the band. Their Facebook page lists their influences as, “Guitar, Banjo, Country Music, Sassiness, High Heels, Bob Wills,” and describe their sound as “High-Heeled Stomp.”
Texas country artist Pat Green recently released a new single called “While I Was Away” ahead of the release of his new record Home on August 14th, and when asked what he thought about the new artists and the new style of country music prevailing in the mainstream today, he not only took the high road, he had some high praise for one of country music’s most notorious repeat offenders.
Blake Shelton proposed to Miranda Lambert in the woods near their home in Tishomingo, Oklahoma in 2010 after the country music power couple had been dating for some time before. Since then there hasn’t been one single winner of either the CMA’s Male Vocalist of the Year award or Female Vocalist of the Year award not named Blake Shelton or Miranda Lambert.