Ruth Musick, the mother of country music legend Alan Jackson, and known affectionately by Alan Jackson fans as “Mama Ruth,” passed away Saturday (1-7-17) at her home in Newnan, Georgia—the same town where Alan Jackson was born. Mama Ruth was 86-years-old.
Alan Jackson has been known throughout his career for putting his foot down for the integrity of country music, regardless of the ramifications. That’s what happened at the 1994 ACM Awards when Jackson instructed his drummer to play without sticks when the producers insisted his band mimic playing to a backing track.
Well now, perhaps there is a reason for old school traditional country fans to tune into the CMA Awards in 2016. Celebrating their 50th Anniversary, the Country Music Association has promised to honor country music’s past in the presentation, and they have put their money where their mouth is.
Imagine a scenario where one of the very top artists of today, someone like Jason Aldean or Luke Bryan, wasn’t just actively not trying to be a part of the problem, but was doing things to troll the rest of the industry right under their noses while still holding one of those very top industry spots. That’s what Alan Jackson did throughout his commercial career.
Preserving the roots of country is not always just about paying homage. Sometimes it is about sowing disharmony or speaking out in protest to help force country music back on the right path. Music Row and the country music industry will always be about money first. The artists are the ones who must take the lead and reign the business in.
On Friday (5-13), it was announced that Billboard would finally be adding an Americana chart to their weekly albums chart roster. This is 10 years after the Grammy Awards began to recognize Americana, nearly 17 years after the Americana Music Association formed.
Tuesday morning (3-29) found country music dignitaries and CMA executives gathered in the rotunda of the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville to announce the newest members to the storied institution. The event was hosted by the fiery Brenda Lee. The 2016 Country Music Hall of Fame inductees were: ” Randy Travis in the […]
As we get to mid February each year, it comes down to nut cutting time for deciding who the next class of inductees to the Country Music Hall of Fame will be. Though who gets to decide is a big secret kept by the Country Music Association, or CMA, we all should feel like we have a say so and voice our opinions and hope the right people listen.
Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Chet Flippo, Country Music Hall of Fame, David Allan Coe, Don Maddox, Gram Parson, Hank Williams Jr., Jerry Lee Lewis, Jerry Reed, John Hartford, Johnny Paycheck, Keith Whitley, Kenny Chesney, Maddox Brothers & Rose, Oak Ridge Boys, Randy Travis, Ricky Skaggs, Tompall Glaser
Love them, hate them, evoke the strong opinions of the Coen Brothers’ fictional character Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski all you want, but Glen Frey and The Eagles turned millions of music fans from all around the world into country music listeners through the evocative power of simple, universal sentiments bathed in twangy tones, however filed off the edges may have been, or however commercially successful the pursuit ultimately was.
This week was the first week Something More Than Free has not graced the #1 spot on the Americana Radio Airplay chart in the last 20—an all-time record. The only other records to come close to the accomplishment were Isbell’s previous release Southeastern from 2013, and Robert Plant’s Band of Joy album, which both spent 15 weeks at the top of the charts.
So what’s to learn from hitching a ride in Marty McFly’s time machine and traveling back to 1985? That the problems country music is facing today are virtually the same ones that were being faced 30 years ago. It’s all cyclical, as canonized in the old Gospel tune enshrined in the architecture of the Country Music Hall of Fame asking the question, “Will The Circle Be Unbroken?”
Alan Jackson, Bill Carter, Bobby Bare, Chris Stapleton, Clint Black, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Jason Isbell, Keith Whitley, Kris Kristofferson, Mo Pitney, Randy Travis, Ray Charles, Ricky Skaggs, Sturgill Simpson, The Highwaymen, Travis Tritt, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson
“18,700”: This is the number of albums Toby Keith sold upon the debut of his new record 35 MPH Town, and it got me to thinking, which artists and bands have beat that number in a year of unprecedented ascent in independent country music? 2015 is the year it became common to see one of your favorite independent acts and aging legends compete at the top of the album charts.
“. . . 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.
Last week it was neck and neck heading into the final tally. Would it be country legend Alan Jackson coming in with the #1 album in country music, or upstart Americana songwriting maestro Jason Isbell claiming the top spot? Either way, the winner was country music by being granted a much-needed reprieve from the dominance of Bro-Country on the album charts, at least for a week or two.
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?
Along with his multiple Americana Music Awards, and many accolades from critics declaring him one of the best songwriters of this generation, Jason Isbell is now the owner of the #1 album in all of country music according to Billboard. Isbell’s album Something More Than Free—released by Isbell’s Southeastern Records via Thirty Tigers—pulled off a last-minute rally to best Alan Jackson’s latest.
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.
As long as Alan Jackson is around and relevant and releasing records, then country music still has a fighting chance. They may squeeze country music through the sausage press and stamp the country label on all manner of crazy-ass hip-wiggling pseudo-rapping modern techno EDM mumbo jumbo in a desperate attempting to sell the audio equivalent of pet rocks to the prattling, gullible public.
It seems to be the destiny of man to make the same mistakes over and over, even when we have insurmountable evidence of the fallacy of our actions right in front of us. Country music might be one of the greatest examples of this as it cycles from being obsessed with pop and contemporary sounds, and then gets reeled back in towards its traditional heart during the tug and push of its sometimes tumultuous history.
A collective rolling of eyes ensued when the ACM’s announced earlier this month they would pair some of today’s country music spares with legends from the past as part of their “Party For a Cause” concert centered around the ACM’s 50th Anniversary. Punctuating the ridiculousness of the duet roster was the unfortunate marriage of country legend Dwight Yoakam and country/EDM star Sam Hunt.