the quality of the music of these do-good artists can sometimes be an entirely different story than the quality of their character. Such an assessment is subjective mind you, both on the musical and personal side. But generally speaking, the generosity of a given celebrity and the standards of their music doesn’t always go hand in hand.
Ahead of a comeback album called It’s About Time scheduled for release on January 15th, 2016 through Scott Borchetta’s NASH Icon label, Hank Williams Jr. has issued a rendition of the oft-covered “Are You Ready For The Country,” originally penned by Neil Young, and covered by Waylon Jennings some years later.
In peep show fashion over the last few days, Hank Williams Jr. has revealed he’ll be releasing his latest album called “It’s About Time.” It will be Hank Jr.’s first album on Big Machine Records’ NASH Icon imprint. He signed to the label meant to give new life to older artists in late April.
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
Hank Williams Jr.’s politics and boisterous attitude will always make him one of the most polarizing figures in country music history. But those who are quick to overlook his musical contributions both on and off the stage, the amazing body of work he’s amassed over his legendary career, and the mark he’s made on country music are doing Bocephus and themselves a huge disservice.
Announced today in press release fashion, the 49th Annual, 2015 CMA Awards will be opened by newly-signed NASH Icon recording artist Hank Williams Jr. singing Waylon’s interpretation of Neil Young’s “Are You Ready For the Country?” first released on an album of the same name by Waylon in 1976. Hank Jr. will be joined by Eric Church in the rendition.
Are You Ready for the Country, Chris Stapleton, CMA Awards, Eric Church, Hank Williams Jr., Kacey Musgraves, Lee Ann Womack, Maddie & Tae, Meghan Trainor, Merle Haggard, Miranda Lambert, NASH, NASH Icon, Neil Young, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson
Emmylou Harris and long-time collaborator Rodney Crowell have a new album out with called ‘The Traveling Kind,’ and while speaking in a joint interview with radio.com recently, Emmylou had some interesting words about what she thinks about today’s country music.
Morrissey performed the song at the Visalia Fox Theater in Visalia, California on August 29th, for what exact reasons remain undetermined. The band nails the 2-chord, hard-pounding, simple composition pretty spot on. Yes, I’m not sure Hank would’ve sang a country song in a Mork suit, but Morrissey seems to really be into his rendition, for whatever reason.
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.
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.
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.
“. . . 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.
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.
Dear Luke Bryan, Thanks for taking the time to read my letter, if in fact you do so. I can only imagine the time constraints a man of your success has, and you’ve already been taking of your time over the last few days to help clear up a mess that I guess I had some part in creating.
Aaron Watson, Blackberry Smoke, Blake Shelton, Dallas Davidson, Florida Georgia Line, Gary Overton, George Strait, Kacey Musgraves, Keith Hill, Luke Bryan, Merle Haggard, Sam Hunt, Sturgill Simpson, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson
Luke Bryan has called Waylon Jennings’ widow Jessi Colter to apologize after he made comments characterizing Outlaw country artists as cocaine addicts “laying in the gutter, strung out on drugs.” Waylon’s son Shooter Jennings has also commented on the situation, saying, “It’s all flush in my book.”
Now one of the members of Waylon’s extended family has spoken out about Luke’s initial words and his apology. Kathy Pinkerman Jennings, who is the wife of one of Waylon Jennings’ sons Buddy Jennings, spoke out about the matter via Facebook initially on July 10th, and the posted a video to YouTube late Saturday night. Despite some media reports, Kathy Jennings makes it clear she is not speaking for the family.
So to give some historical context to Luke Bryan’s characterizations, I thought we would look back and see what Willie, Merle, and Waylon felt about cocaine. Willie hated the stuff, and would fire anyone in his crew caught using it. Merle barely touched it, except for one dalliance that ended poorly. And Waylon was a professed, long-term cocaine addict who openly expressed his struggles with the drug.
Being an Outlaw never had anything to do with arrest records or cocaine addictions. Anyone found on Willie Nelson’s crew with their nose in the powder was immediately fired. Being an Outlaw was about being yourself, insisting on having creative control of your music, and moving country music forward while still respecting the roots of the genre and all the greats that came before.
Gone are the days of Loretta Lynn singing “One’s On The Way.” Gone are the days of adult issues like divorce, resonating with mature audiences. Gone are the days of originality, not only in style but in songwriting. In that classic era you could tell the difference between Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings. Artists were easily discernible and legends arose because of their unique qualities…
Randy Howard was killed on June 9th, 2015 in his log cabin home in Lynchburg, TN in a shootout with bounty hunters. They were serving a bench warrant stemming from a DUI Howard had been charged with that was likely going to be dismissed after the blood test came back proving he was below the legal limit. Randy Howard is gone but his music lives on for eternity, especially “All-American Redneck.”