When I think about a good way to personify pop country, I think of a pig; a big, bloated, lazy, garish and gluttonous pig laying around in its own filth and slops. And this pig recently had piglets, with swollen nipples dotting its underbelly. And fighting for a chance with the sweet, sweet nectar of those nipples are a bunch of little piglets, clawing at each other, pushing each other out of the way, squealing, wiggling their curly tails in sheer greed. The pig is pop. The nipples are the least common denominators that create the widest possible audience. And the milk is money.
From American Idol, to Disney, to Darius Rucker, to Jessica Simpson and many others, everyone seems to be trying to climb over each other for a chance at that sweet pop country teat.
Though it pains me to say it, country music has somehow become the default American music genre. As far back as really the mid 1950’s, if something didn’t really fit easily in a genre, we called it “Rock.” Now country is that default term. That is why even though Taylor Swift is a pop star, they label her “country” and play her on “country” radio.
Well the newest little piglet is the Warped Tour’s founder Kevin Lyman.
(Since posting embedding has been disabled on this, so CLICK HERE to view, at least as long as they leave it up.)
Did he really say that he has been “watching” country music for 10 years? “WATCHING?” Really? Don’t you LISTEN to music? Then he goes on to say “I’m looking at the audience in country and realizing 40% of those people could be at the Warped Tour now.” That’s right country fan, you and you’re culture are now a statistic; a percentage. This guy isn’t pursuing a passion, but running numbers.
I understand people have to make money and that is fine. But this is just another example of how we are losing control of our culture, and the terms that define it. Kevin Lyman specifically named Taylor Swift, who is about as country as a New York City sewer, as one of the reasons he wants to put this tour together.
He also said “We just opened an office in Nashville this week.” And in a punkbands.com article it was reported:
“Lyman’s team visited Nashville in January and started meeting with labels, managers and agents on an exploratory trip, and interest was high. “Everyone was saying the time is right,” he says. 4fini execs Sarah Baer and Kate Truscott have relocated to Music City from Chicago, and former Clear Channel online music manager Allison Skiff has joined the Nashville team.
They might as well be saying, “We’ve just opened an office in Hell, and are having meetings with Satan.”
And trust me when I say, if there is a Satan, a top dog involved in this whole erosion of the country music culture, it is the above mentioned Clear Channel. This tour would also work through Live Nation, who is (or already has) merged with Ticketmaster in an attempt to create a monopoly in the ticket selling business.
It is amazing the bedfellows you see when reading these stories, and how they continue to be able to merge their power and influence over something that at its heart is supposed to be a few old boys sitting around a campfire picking guitars.
I have to say, though I question what the warped tour defines as “punk” as well, I do like the way that they set up a situation where bigger bands can help gain exposure for smaller bands through their multi-stage approach. And though I’m not big on corporate sponsorship, the way Warped figured out how to use sponsors to keep ticket prices at very reasonable rates I think is a smart approach that allows access to the music to more people.
Kevin Lyman also deserves mention for that O Brother Where Art Thou? tour, though that whole thing felt a little more like exploitation than exposure for my taste.
I’m sure also on this “country” tour they will have some smaller real country acts or legacy acts like Willie Nelson who was also mentioned, to try to give the thing a more legit feel. But I think overall you’re going to have pop singers parading as country artists making lots and lots of money.
It is a good idea though. I wish the REAL country acts would start banding together, putting on Festivals like The Dripping Springs Reunion back in the 70’s, or the “Outlaws” tour with Willie and Waylon back in the day.
We’ll keep our eye on this “Warped” idea, and see how country it really is. I would be happy as a pig in shit if Kevin Lyman decided to try to promote the REAL country music stars of our time, even if he just gave them an equal share, and I had to eat some of the words above.