Jan
9

This Whole Dierks Bentley Ripping of Jason Isbell Thing

January 9, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  74 Comments

This weekend, former guitarist for the Drive By Truckers and current solo artist Jason Isbell accused Dierks Bentley of ripping off his song “In A Razor Town” through his Twitter feed. “‘Dierks’ has officially ripped off my song ‘In A Razor Town.’” Isbell fired off on Friday. “Dierks is a douchebag. The song of Dierks is called ‘Home.’” Dierks defended himself and the song’s co-writer Dan Wilson by referring to an interview with Dan from ASCAP about the writing of the song. El Trash seems to think the Dierks camp ripped off Matt King as well.

So now what happens is people break to whatever side they were predisposed to break to according to their fandom affiliation with either Isbell or Bentley, and I guess since I run a website called “Saving Country Music”, I am obligated to post an article about it, while the rest of folks listen hard to subtleties in YouTube videos to see if they can rule one way or another.

The simple fact is that songs get ripped off all the time, and artists accuse each of ripping off songs all the time, but when you break it all down there is an actual hard science that goes into determining if a song was ripped off or not that is used by the only entity whose opinion truly matters: the courts. When you take a song and write out the notes and rhythms and chords, either they match up, or they don’t. Even then, sometimes the similarities are coincidental, or too subtle to to judge. Or maybe the reason the two songs are similar is because they both ripped off another song with a similar structure, or because that is a popular structure for songs currently.

Both Isbell and Bentley occupy a place for me that as soon as I start hating them, they do something cool, and as soon as I start warming up to them, they do something stupid, like I don’t know, rip someone’s song off, or take to Twitter to call someone a “douche” instead of handling the matter more civilly.

I can’t help but think back to the situation surrounding Old Crow Medicine Show’s unbelievably overplayed but nonetheless catchy song “Wagon Wheel”. Old Crow’s Ketch Secor admits he took the chorus of the song from an old unfinished Dylan outtake and really only fessed up to it when he went to copyright the song in 2003 after already putting it on an EP and playing it for years. However Dylan was cool about it. They both are now credited as songwriters on the track, and the song has gone to become the new “Free Bird”, guaranteed to whip all of our asses to infinity by being massively overplayed for years to come. I also think back to the Gretchen Wilson/Black Crows brushup a few years back, where the Robinson brothers ended up being credited as songwriters on “Work Hard, Play Harder” in a feud that was handled rather privately.

As I’ve been saying for years, there is too much music, and these songwriting feuds are just a symptom of it. I guess some people fancy Jason Isbell as an independent artist, and Dierks Bentley as a mainstream artist, but as the songs and the conflict illustrate, their sounds are very similar, which begs the question, why do we need both? Is mainstream music mining song ideas and structures from the independent world for use with their franchise entertainers? Well of course they are, it’s been going on for years. Is Dierks Bentley a franchise mainstream country star? It depends on who you talk to. Some people you talk to would say that Isbell is a pretty big franchise as well.

I guess my point is that I’ll wait for the courts to decide, while maybe giving a slight edge to Isbell. But this is only going to become more and more common, and much harder to sort out as every single pattern and possibility of notes and chords gets occupied by the unnecessary amount of songs, albums, and artists out there taking advantage of the Western World’s excessive amount of free time and capitol. There’s plenty of music out there right now to last us until eternity. So write a song to bare your soul, not to meet some predetermined release schedule to keep your career on track, or to live out your American rock n’ roll fantasy. And if you do that, I’d bet dollars to donuts you won’t get accused of getting your roses from another man’s vine, and you’ll have a song that is so wholly original, it is impossible to steal.

74 Comments to “This Whole Dierks Bentley Ripping of Jason Isbell Thing”

  • Last year I think Dierks Bentley may have done the same thing to Matt King. I heard a couple of Matt King fans takling about it. Dierks song “Up on the Ridge” seems to take pieces from both Matt King’s songs “Hard Luck Road” and “Shanty Town” Check out his blog post or mine and you be the judge. It’s just too similar to be ignored. I wrote about it here on my blog.

    http://www.eltrash.com/is-dierks-bently-and-company-stealing-songs/

    -EM

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    • I linked to this above. The thing is, I just don’t know how much of a lay person is qualified to make these judgements, me or anybody else. I have heard songs that I swear were ripoffs, but one little change in something kept it from being so, while another song that doesn’t even sound similar is ordered by the court to pay out royalties to the original. And I’m no Frank Zappa, but I know my way around music a little bit. That is why on these matters, I always consult the wisdom of Vanilla Ice.

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      • Aw snap you brought out Mr. Van Winkle on me! If Ice man can use Bowie’s riff and add one “ding” to it, and “hold up” as his own, then I totally agree it’s not like Jason Ibell’s or Matt King’s songs are going to win some kind of court battle for money against Dierks.

        I think my bigger point here is I was born and raised in Nashville and worked in the industry as a creative for a long time. I know how the Nashville “system” works. It’s the same way they shunned Cash, Jennings, and Steve Earle in their later years. They don’t care if you can play an instrument, or write a song. They want you to look pretty and play pop music. There are a few different ways “stars” in Nashville get songs for their albums. One is though a writing staff, another is by hiring an outside writer. Either way these guys are pumping out songs left and right. Writing hundreds of songs a year only needing one to “chart” to pay their salary. Along the way they hear the songs of Jason Isbell and Matt King and go to their shows to get ideas. They see which ones are popular with the crowd. Sometimes they approach them about “pitching” their songs to the artist for their new record. Maybe they even get a meeting with the President of the label, the producer of the album or the artist. Eventualy, they pass on the song and “write” and compose their own version. And more times than not…it sounds very similar to the song you pitched them. At that point to an artist like Jason Isbell or Matt King it is gutwrenching. Because, that is what these guys care about the most. The song. But, the Nashville “stars” don’t and neither do most of the “sheepish” radio fans. That is why real country music is dying. It’s a very sad thing. That’s why you see POP artist like Lionel Ritchie and Kenny Loggins at the CMA awards. Nashville wants country to be POP music because it sells. Where does it end?

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        • I agree Ernie, and I talk about these issues, especially how they relate to country music almost weekly on this site. But as you said, this could have been someone else’s dirty work that Dierks was just a benefactor of. Why not call Dan Wilson out on Twitter? I like Jason Isbell, and come from the camp of shooting first and asking questions later. I think in the end there’s a good chance Jason will be added as a songwriter. But I just think he went about the process a little too aggressively, which means a lot coming from me. Here’s, and article I wrote a while back along these lines:

          http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/big-names-cash-in-on-third-for-a-word-songwriting-rule

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  • I’ve noticed as I get older, the more often a “new” song will remind me of some “old” song or songs.You’re right that every combination of notes and chords have pretty much been done, so it’s bound to happen.Most of Isbell’s fans probably don’t listen to Dierks, and vice versa.

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    • Bentley and Isbell fans probably don’t mix, but I wouldn’t say they’re wholly different artists. In fact I could make the case their very similar. Both in my opinion make pretty safe, pallid music. I don’t mean that as an insult, I gave Isbell’s “Codeine” a nomination for my Song of the Year. But while Dierks works within the mainstream, but probably stays to the rootsier, more independent side of that world, Isbell works in the independent world, but with a more mainstream sound. Neither has really ever done anything to ever draw my direct ire, or really inspired me to sing their praises heavily.

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      • what rex said. the older i get and when i do get around listening to new stuff i’m amazed at what i hear. riffs here and there from ‘old’ stuff. like, whoa, got that from alice cooper. or, hey, pink floyd. et cetera. it happens a lot. could be the chords and notes deal or an unconscious/conscious homage when the song was written. or maybe even blatant ripping off. just sayin’.

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  • I’m guessing here, but I can imagine that part of Isbell’s anger is that Bently’s song is a piece of cheesy propoganda. If you think an artist stole your melody and chord structure for a piece of cheesy propoganda full of eagles and american flags, it might make you call the dude a name or two on twitter. It’s cheesy as hell.

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    • Why is it cheesy propoganda? Because it is about America and played on CMT and Clear Channel radio?

      I agree with Trigger in his take on Dierks. He does something cool, and then follows it up with something like “Sideways”. But you can’t ignore that Dierks isn’t as big as he maybe could be if he truely sold his soul. He has a look that would sell to 16-25 yr. old girls to fill up Ft. Knox. Yet he isn’t anywhere near the top “franchise” in pop-country.
      He’s been doing bluegrass long before “Up On The Ridge” came, and although that was accused of being “pop-grass” it certainly was a risk for his career.

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    • But just to play devil’s advocate, some will/have said the only reason Jason has a problem with the song is BECAUSE it is cheesy American Flag waving stuff. Just as much as Dierks will get cheesy on your ass, Jason Isbell will get political on your ass.

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      • In this case, Triggerman, Dierks getting “cheesy” is the same thing as getting “political.”

        Other examples:

        Zac Brown Band taking a beautiful example about a couple in love – “Free” and filming a video about the military.

        Faith Hill buying a some from One Republic – “Come Home,” and transforming it from a song about a fighting couple to a song about…you guessed it…the military.

        Whether you like it or not, when country artists repackage these songs, they’re making a political statement that definitely leans one way. And yes, I can already hear the counter-argument. “Shouldn’t all people support America and the Military, regardless of political affiliation?” Of course – but that’s not the way it’s working these days.

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        • Kus, that’s certainly not my counter-argument you’re hearing. I’ve been complaining and outing these uber-patriot songs as veiled commercial demographic pandering for years, and I won’t leave it out of the realm of possibility Dierks fits in that category. As for the “political”, statement, I understand what you are saying. What I am saying is that Isbell, unlike lots of artists who do not believe in mixing politics and music, is one who is willing to be overt about his political beliefs.

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        • I’ll disagree. I think the song, the video, is about America. I don’t think it takes a political stance of pro this or that. I think it is simply about America, our “Home”. Maybe the artist has a political stance, although I don’t think Dierks is all that outspoken about his politics, so this song just seems to be a song about America.

          Maybe it is impossible for an artist, especially a mainstream artist, to do a song about America or the military and be seen as anything but trying to cash in. That is sad if that is the case, especially when those accusing him or her probably don’t know the first thing about him or her.

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  • Music is not created in a vacuum. Artists are constantly being influenced by what they hear, whether it’s something to which they are actively listening or not. There is really nothing truly original in any musical genre short of inventing a new musical instrument. All songs lie on a continuum, with the “influenced by” on one end, and the “copyright infringement” on the other. Somewhere along that line a song can cross from acceptable to unacceptable “borrowing”. Where that line is changes from song to song, artist to artist, and genre to genre.

    An example is The Decemberists “The King is Dead”. Before the album was released they stated they were trying to make an album similar to REM as an homage, which made it acceptable. Had they not made that clear, there would surely have been major uproar that they were stealing REM’s sound.

    There is going to be a similarity in music. It is inevitable. There are a specific number of notes that are audible to the human ear. Therefore there are a limited number of ways those notes can be arranged in a song. Add in that not all those arrangements are going to result in a pleasing sound, and the result is a limited number of songs. Have we reached the point in human history where we are bound to be repeating arrangements of notes?

    Specifically to this instance, I do hear a similarity between the two songs musically. Did Dierks steal from Jason? I don’t think the fact they sound similar makes it an automatic yes. At some point there has to be some proof that the songwriters were exposed to Jason’s song, which may be difficult to find. While Jason is well known in our circle, he may not be well known enough in Dierks circle for that to be assumed.

    I definitely agree Twitter was not the proper forum for Jason to discuss this issue.

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  • Yea it really is hard to come up with something that sounds like nothing you have ever heard. Trust me, that as a songwriter you come up with a lyric or guitar riff that you think is great and unique but low and behold a few days you hear something somewhere that sounds just like it. Sucks, but there are so many songs out there it’s inevitable.

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  • Both kinda suck.

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    • Ha! That was pretty much what I was trying to say, it just took me 500-something words to do it.

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    • Colby Jack- Cheeseball….if both of them suck I’d like to know what kind of crap you listen to. Isbell is a great musician/artist and shouldn’t have to deal with a mainstream country pop “singer” ripping his stuff off. I hope he wins this battle. I’ve never seen someone live pour their heart and soul into music like him. He’s one of a kind and you should probably learn to appreciate good music.

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      • I like Jason Isbell. I nominated one of his songs this year for “Song of the Year” on this site. However where I think Jason miscalculated, and where some of his fans are miscalculating is painting Dierks Bentley as some sort of pop country mega-star. He still may be a “douche”, but you in no way can compare Dierks to Jason Aldean or Brantely Gilbert, or even to a Tim McGraw, in either his style, or popularity. I am not a Dierks fan. I don’t own any of his music. But from what I have observed, he at least attempts to to “keep it real”, many times at the commercial detriment of his career. He also has a tendency to do a few things almost strictly for commercial purposes, possibly to maintain his popularity and relevancy to allow him to mix in what he truly wants to do.

        All I am saying is that if Jason Isbell or anyone else wants to go toe to toe with Dierks, they would be wise to first give Dierks and honest and true evaluation of who he is and what he’s done, or they risk coming across as misinformed or bitter.

        Having said all of that, if in the end they do find out Dierks stole the song, then of course this takes whatever credibility Dierks has created for himself away.

        I think what Colby was saying is that this particular Isbell song is week, and so is Bentley’s, and I would tend to agree.

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        • I see no similarities between these two. I don’t know where you are getting that from. I see Dierks as the epitome of shitty mainstream nash-pop country. Oh he put out a bluegrass album. That doesnt cover up all that garbage of his that was all over the place a few years ago.Im not even a big fan of Isbell but c’mon dude. There are NO similarites between these artists. At all. They are on completely different spectrums.

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          • Do you know anything about Dierks besides he has curly hair the women love and you can’t stand that? (Maybe your girlfriend thinks he’s cute) And maybe the half dozen songs you heard via CMT, awards shows, or mainstream radio?

            You know he has had bluegrass roots before he broke onto the scene?
            You ever seen him live? He puts on a great show and pays genuine tribute to real country music legends.
            Oh yea, and he has collaborated with legends on songs that never will see pop-country radio.

            I won’t excuse some of his song choices like “Sideways”, but clearly your comment that he is the ” epitome of shitty mainstream nash-pop country ” shows you form that opinion before knowing anything about an artist.

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    • Hahaha, Colby Jack! I concur, am listening to Jason Isbell’s version and trying not to nod off ….

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  • Jason Isbell tweeted this last week: “Fight the urge to tell songwriters who they remind you of.” I guess Dierks Bently reminds Jason Isbell of Jason Isbell.

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  • Meh I hear the stealing crap going on all the time. From underground to mainstream, mainstream to underground, mainstream to mainstream, etc.

    Eli Young Band – Always the Love Songs
    Wallflowers – 6th Avenue Heartache

    Randy Rogers Band – Steal You Away
    Billy Dean – We Just Disagree

    Toby Keith – Bullets in the Gun
    Robert Earl Keen – The Road Goes on Forever/Fade to Grey

    At least Isbell can sing and has DBT on his resume. Dierks? Not so much.
    http://www.acltv.com/component/seyret/video/135/Dierks-Bentley
    http://youtu.be/FoW-KCyn_gQ

    Thompson Square – I Got You
    Mary Chapin Carpenter – Passionate Kisses

    Shooter Jennings – Gone to Carolina
    Bon Jovi – Wanted Dead or Alive

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    • No idea how I messed up the order of my post like that.

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    • Just an FYI… Mary Chapin Carpenter did not write Passionate Kisses. That song was written by Lucinda Williams.

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      • I’m sure thats not the only song in my list where the popular version wasn’t performed by the writer.

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  • They sound similer but are different. If any one should be sueing over there song being stollen it’s Guy Clark. The music in his song Let It Roll is the same as the song The Randall Knife. If I was him I’d sue….If you don’t get the problem with that then you oviously need to buy some Guy Clark albums.

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  • Guess it beats Nickelback ripping off, well, Nickelback. Their ability to re-release the same song endlessly is commendable.

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  • Ripping each other’s songs off is as part of country music tradition as a damn fiddle. Total non issue. How many of them old country tunes have the same melody? It’s the way this music has always been and it’s the way it’ll always be. The internet has only magnified the situation it’s not like this is a new phenomenon.

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  • On a side note, I did find it interesting that Bently mispelled Isbell’s twitter handle in his responses. My guess is so that his fans couldnt easily find out who was accusing him of theft, or to easily find the original song in question. Bently wrote @JasonIsbel . Real Twitter handle is @JasonIsbell .

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    • See, I’m being put in a weird position here. I would say as a fan, I much prefer Jason Isbell to Dierks, but people that think they can characterize Dierks as a pop country douche, that, for example, would purposely lie to his fans to throw them off the scent are only going to come across as bitter. Dierks is very well liked by a very wide swatch of country music that extents into independent and underground fans that like some of his bluegrass stuff. He is not a polarizing figure, and for 4 years, I have not once had the occasion to call him out on anything. This is not Brantley Gilbert, and if Isbell and his fans don’t realize this, they risk coming across a dicks, even if they ultimately end up being right. You also attacked the well-known artist, instead of the obscure songwriter, who if there was thievery, is probably the one to blame.

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      • I’m not necessarily saying Bently did this on Purpose, Isbell never put Bently’s twitter handle in any of his tweets. Possible that a fan alerted Bently to the accusation’s and misspelled Isbell’s handle.

        But It seems that Bently read Isbell’s tweet’s. Its easy to reply on twitter. The Twitter handle you are replying to is there and already spelled out for you.

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        • Do you realize you are spelling “Bently” wrong. It is Dierks Bentley. If you didn’t realize that or it was a non-puposeful type-o, I think you have your answer to you own question.

          I also think Triggers comments above yours are great. I’m afraid that some are jumping to conclusions on Dierks based on this little spat by Isbell. Dierks is not Brantley and Dierks is not pop-country king.

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  • I guess I’m kind of dumbfounded by this whole debate.

    I get that there are hundreds of examples of songs sounding similar.

    It’s conceivable that two songs released four years apart could have VERY similar chord structures and melodies.

    But didn’t anyone else look at the lyrics for these songs? They both use the pronouns “she” and “her” when talking about a place. In the case of the Isbell song, a sad and broken down town. In the case of the Bentley song, AMERICA!

    What else needs to happen before this stretches from coincidence to outright plagiarism? Do the song titles need to be the same? Seriously?

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    • Without question, there are some serious similarities between the songs and I think Dierks and Dan Wilson are going to have to explain why that is. I guess what needs to happen to prove it, is proof. And that I have no doubt this is attempting to be fleshed out at this very moment by lawyers and music analysts whose sole job on this planet is to deal with these exact such matters. If Dierks is found guilty, I’ll be the first to dogpile on. In the meantime, I think overreation can come across as bitterness. We don’t even know how much of a role Dierks had in the song, it could have been 95% this Dan Wilson guy. And all of a sudden Dierks is being called out by someone he may barely even know. And “I am hurt” instead of “you’re a Douche” may have been a better way to alert the public to this situation.

      I have very little faith in anything involving the music industry, but in this particular matter, I feel like if the song was indeed ripped off, that conclusion will be made, and Isbell will be given credit and compensation.

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  • i think folk music do this all the time. and not to mention the almost monotonous traditional bluegrass. but i didn’t hear bluegrass artists suing each other. same goes to hair metal and even death metal.

    both home and in a razor town fall under the category of common music. it has common chord progressions and song structure. a man who never heard these songs can end up accidentally ripping it.

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  • Remember how Miranda became a big star by ripping off Steve Earle?

    Easiest thing would be if Dierks added Isbell as a co-writer or something.

    As a musician myself, I don’t believe its possible to write any new songs.Everything is re-packaging these days.

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  • “We’re in this gig together, so let’s settle down and steal each other’s songs.”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnBjhDY3_G8

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    • Fuckin A…..hearin that song again made this thread worth it.

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  • .I don’t care. I’ve always thought Jason Isbell. whiney cunt biscuit….I was happy when he left DBT. He’s only had about 4 songs over his career that I have ever given a second listen…….

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    • ha. agreed. don’t flatter yourself.
      this is probably the best thing that could have happened to his MUSIC career. depressing.

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      • See, I actually think Isbell has some what of a case. But the way he went about it is going to make some folks think he’s just grandstanding for attention, or whatever.

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        • Oh, grandstanding for attention …how dare he. Trig , you should give the guy some pointers on how to handle his business with poise and dignity

          I suppose since Jason doesn’t sing about how drugs he has probably never done and about a hard family life he never really had, it makes his music “whiney,bitchey,cunt”.

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        • Ok Jeff, put all kinds of words into my mouth. I didn’t say he was grandstanding, I said I can understand how it would look like he was to certain people by the way he’s handling this whole thing. And if I think he’s a “whiney, bitchy cunt”, for not putting drug references in his songs, then why did I nominate his song “Codeine” for Song of the Year?

          http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/nominees-for-scm-2011-song-of-the-year

          And again, I do think Jason has a serious case about the song. Just question how he’s handling it. And yes, I grandstand all the time, that is my job. Jason’s is to make music, and let us knuckleheads do the dirty work for him.

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  • the simple fact is that songs can sound similar without being stolen, ripped-off, etc. otherwise no new songs would ever be written. there are all kinds of intellectual property laws that determine if something is stolen and 4 notes in a chorus isn’t going to cut it.

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  • Why does all that pop crap sound the same, cuz autotune makes all the voices the same and its made by machines. Why does Popcountry sound the same as the pop music? Cuz it is. I watched an episode of ACL with Brad Paisley n Dierks Bently, when it was over I thought ” not gonna buy any of their albums, BUT…. Brad Paisley is a badass guitar player.” and Bentley, well I thought “that’s just aimed at giving chicks a panty splash”. Bently is like a lot of ‘artists’ (and I am being generous with that term) in the current glut of modern music, he just doesn’t standout much. Like wonder bread, banal and not really nourishing, so i don’t buy that crap anymore. If I didn’t have so many good albums to listen to like Willie Tea,Possessed by PJ, Mountain Sprout, Sunday Valley,The Builders and The Butchers and Red Fang I might weigh in, but really I don’t give two pinches of monkey poop what Dierks Bently is doing and will take my chances that I might miss out on something good he might do. So much Good stuff out there. You just have to have Some standards and taste.. Oh Yeah and you have to look people, don’t let them feed you crap from the Radio. That’s my rant for today. lol

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    • Have you looked at Dierks beyond the crap you were fed on an ACL or what is on the radio?

      His “Up On the Ridge” album is definitely not safe/auto-tune pop-country. He also puts on a very good live show with covers and paying homage to real country and it isn’t just for show.

      So just playing devils advocate. Pop country fans don’t look to deep for music, but underground fans don’t always look into an artist that has made a mark in mainstream.

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      • I saw Dierks Bentley at a festival a couple of years ago. I wasn’t anticipating much…didn’t really care about him, going by what little I had heard on pop country radio.

        But, I have to agree with your assessment on his live act. I was pleasantly surprised. He played traditional stuff…paid homage, like you said. I enjoyed the show more than I had planned on.

        Not that I went out and bought his albums, but it made me realize that, even if some artists are part of the evil Music Row machine, they can have an appreciation for the real thing.

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  • Yesterday Jason Isbell left this comment on Twitter:

    “Oh, people who idolize top 40 country artists, please don’t vote. Please.”

    As much as I hate top 40 country and generally speaking, their fans, this is exactly what I am talking about with the elitism coming from Isbell. So now these people shouldn’t even have a right to vote? Come on man, get some perspective, and just like the Drive By Truckers, and James McMurtry and Steve Earle, it ALWAYS comes back to politics.

    Never fair to paint everyone with the same broad brush. Isbell may have a fair point about his song, but he would be smart to leave his politics on the sideline.

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    • Great post and responses, but can you really pretend readers here, and maybe even yourself, don’t make the exact same move at times? If this had been a Muddy Roots favorite, for instance I think there would be just as much “elitism” and jumping on the bandwagon against DB.

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      • Jason Isbell is not as underground as he’d like to think he is, and Dierks Bentley is not as pop country as Jason Isbell thinks he is. I think that is the crux of the problem I have with how Isbell is handling this. You’re completely right, if it was a Rachel Brooke or Hellbound Glory song being ripped off, I’m sure there would be all manner of upheaval, but I would hope that whoever was doing the accusing would not bring up politics, and I would like to think that if they did, I would stand up and say that is crossing a line. Why taking it to politics is probably crossing a line is what I am going to learn from this situation, so if it does ever come up, I don’t go there.

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        • Jason seems to be stream of consciousness tweeter. He needs a filter. A while back, he put out a snarky comment about not needing to hear the Avetts or Mumford and Sons ever again. Some of the faithful didn’t appreciate that.

          Should be interesting to see where he plays the next time he comes through DC, given his higher profile since the release of Here We Rest. He sold out the Rock and Roll Hotel (capacity 400) in DC, which is not near any subway station and the area is lacking in public parking. If he headlines the Birchmere (capacity 550) in Alexandria, VA, that would put him with artists like Dave Alvin, Hayes Carll and Elizabeth Cook.

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        • I get this is the main point you are making and agree, even if I made that mistake myself before reading your post. I don’t know Bentley’s music and have always written him off without listening. I appreciate that with posts like the one about Swift, you are trying to get beyond the “Nashville Bad, Indie Good” rhetoric to listen to music fairly. Yet I do think you, and many of your readers, perpetuate that rhetoric. I don’t think someone like Hank 3 is really indie either, but we want to see our favorites as outsiders bucking the system. I am as guilty as anyone.

          I am also not sure the politics can really be avoided. I appreciate the attempt to hear songs fairly despite any political message. But the divides in the country music community are, and to a degree have always been, aligned with politics. Even a rejection of politics is a political position in the current climate, when that is the message of Libertarians. I suspect from reading between the lines of the site, it is the politics that turn you off from artists like Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams. Do you give them a fair listen? By calling Isbell fan’s (or “NPR types”) “elitist” you are buying into the way the right characterizes the left. Another example from a reader, RWP says Isbell is “whining like a liberal.” Really? Only liberals whine and are immature? I don’t think Isbell’s poor choice to call out Bentley on twitter has anything to do with his politics. (I agree with Jack. Looking at Isbell’s twitter, I think he tends to tweet without thinking. Or perhaps, tweets too much under the influence. )

          Again, I appreciate the desire to not get dragged into the polarization of American politics. We need that. It is just easier said than done.

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    • “…just like the Drive By Truckers, and James McMurtry and Steve Earle, it ALWAYS comes back to politics.”

      OK, Steve Earle and James McMurtry have written some overtly political songs, with Steve Earle clearly in the lead in both quantity and stridency. I’ve seen you make this point about the Truckers before, but I don’t think of the Truckers as being hyper-political. I can’t find any political songs on their last two albums. Their album before that had two topical songs about the wars, but I didn’t find them overly strident.

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      • You’re probably right. The Drive By Truckers may be down a few steps in the political stridency. I just honestly hate to see politics and music mixed at any point, though I understand this is a personal pet peeve of mine. Here though, by saying he hopes a block of people don’t vote, that is elitism. He thinks he is better than them, when all they are doing is coming to the defense of an artist they love. I thought we were supposed to encourage everyone to vote. If he had used the opportunity to illustrate how there’s great artists in the independent world that are more original than the mainstream, he would be converting folks. Instead he’s looking down his nose at them, and acting like Dierks is no different than Brantley Gilbert.

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        • Yeah, I agree that was a shitty thing for him to tweet and that he shows his ignorance with respect to Dierks, lumping him in with the all the rest. He’s definitely one of the better artists that I hear on my wife’s radio station and iPod.

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    • Knowing how Jason Isbell tweets constantly, and about whatever crosses his mind at the moment (sometimes influenced by Mr. Daniels) it’s possible that this doesn’t have anything to do with Dierks Bentley. Seems some here are reading that into it.

      Maybe it’s just a statement in general; people who are fooled by pop country and idolize the obviously phony and fake shouldn’t vote as they’re likely to be fooled by real charlatans trying to secure votes from people that would end up voting against their own interests.

      Maybe it’s just a humorous attempt at an observation on the state of the average pop country music fan. …and maybe it failed, seeing the reaction to it…

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  • If he was a man,he would take it up with Bentley one on one instead of being a pussy and calling him out on twitter like an 8th grader or like a whiny ass Liberal (same diff I guess). Both songs suck anyway.

    Kinda funny too with him talking about the top 40 crowd when he has Mandy Moore and the Disney crowd on HIS side.lol,funny stuff!

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    • “LOL”. Sounds like you watch the Disney channel.

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    • Talking shit online about people who talk shit online. Irony much?

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      • You got his phone number? If so,I’ll call him then.

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  • I liked Isbell’s song, and while I don’t hate Dierks overall, that song blows. Probably one of the worst of his career, and definitely eerily similar to Isbell’s song. While guys like Earle and Isbell to have a tendency to get political, so do guys like Toby Keith, Hank Jr., and other mainstream guys who blindly worship the flag and write cheesy ass songs to sell records. Isbell’s not perfect, but he’s a good artist and feels a lot more real than what you hear on country radio anymore.

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  • I would first of all like to say that the song really does suck. Based on Dierk’s previous body of work I don’t really think he had a big hand in this either. If I had to guess I would say its probably something brought on by the execs at the label trying to get him back into the light after the bluegrass-style album he recorded. And as a side note, it’s sick that so many people are so close-minded toward the better of the mainstream artists. Seriously, if you ever really want country music to be saved your going to have to realize that it’s not going to happen by ignorantly shunning everything that is attached to the mainstream. Think of it this way, if the people who associate with this site, and others like it were more open to digging through the mainstream to find the better stuff like dierk’s bluegrass album and they supported that material then the labels would see that. Once they saw that then they would see that there is a market for it and it would open the door for more traditional acts. Go dig for dierk’s unreleased first album and it will show you his true roots. Listening to that I would bet that he was hoping that he could get traction with that traditional material but because of all you mainstream-shunning ignorant people theres not market for it.

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  • Also, note the similarities in Dierks’s song to the intro of “The Rain Came Down” by Steve Earle. It looks like he combined two songs that weren’t his into one of his own.

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  • Anyone know if there’s any story to the similarity between these two songs? Too me, they sound more identical than Isbell’s and Dierks’ song(s). The songs are “Down Here Below” by Steve Earle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAmdOPCPu3A and “Stoned” by Blackie & The Rodeo Kings http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8KtHySl61I They seem about the same song to me, the chords, the vocal style, the breakdown in the middle. I’ve found nothing on the interwebs and I’m kind of surprised a stink was never raised. I honestly don’t know which one came out first. I know I owned Steve’s album before I got the Blackie album, but that doesn’t mean anything.

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  • Isbell must have been on something when he accused Dierks! The choruses have a similar tune, but that can be said about tons of songs! Definitely not even close to being the same song!

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    • The melody in the the verses and the chorus sound the same to me.

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  • I’ve never found Isbell particularly authentic, or likeable, so he and Dierks are one and the same to me. They’re the part of the industry I call music fabricators – churning out product and giving at a marketing spin so it seems unique, new and improved or the next big/real thing .

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  • How about Eric Church Drink in my Hand, sounds just like Neal McCoys Give Me That Wink. EC’s How Bout You , sounds like Dierks Bentleys Got Alot Of Leaving To Do.Can EC say Tatoo playing peek-a-boo on your back when Brad Paisley just said that nearly verbatum on Ticks.

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  • Jason Isbell it 100% correct in this accusation. The chorus of that terrible Dierks song is the same exact vocal melody and chord structure as Razortown. There’s no question whatsoever. The difference is that the Isbell song crushes the ripped of version lyrically and Isebell’s voice is a thousand times better. Dierk’s made a complete ripoff of the Isbell song, and it couldn’t hold a candle to the original in any way. Hope he gets hammered in court and by the media. That’s not even real music

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  • Posted the following on another forum relating to this same issue. Thought someone might want to weigh in…

    As a fan of Drive-By Truckers and Pink Floyd (and a songwriter/composer myself, as well), I’m wondering if anyone has ever commented on the similarity between the Trucker’s “Outfit” and Floyd’s “Lost for Words.” Melody and chords match up, especially at 3:14 of the Floyd song and 2:14 of “Outfit.”

    I mean, that is to say, they’re more or less identical. Phrasing is dead on and the shift in the third line to a minor chord…I guess the first time I heard “Outfit” all I could hear was “Lost for Words.”

    By the way, say Isbell tonight. Tight band, great guitarist, and the man’s voice is really rich.

    Floyd:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qV7cWhmoG9w

    Truckers:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyJ9JfWbKLE
    Reply

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