2013 was a year defined by massive stories in country music. From historic deaths like the passing of country music writer Chet Flippo, artist and producer Tompall Glaser, producer and songwriter “Cowboy” Jack Clement, Willie Nelson guitarist Jody Payne and others, to the feuds that erupted as country music continues to be in the midst of a culture war, 2013 was tumultuous to say the least.
Please note that these top 10 stories are not based off of what Saving Country Music sees as the most important, but the amount of traffic and interest each story received, sometimes accrued over multiple stories on the same subject. So it’s you who chose what the top stories were.
“You know, I would say no. I would say they’re pop artists making a living in the country genre. I also feel like we lost our genre. I don’t feel like I make music for a genre anymore, and I did, you know, 15 years ago. But I think since the Clear Channel’s and the Cumulus’s and the big companies bought up all the chains, now it’s about a demographic. You know, so they’ve kind of sliced everything up, feeding it to the public in demographics.”
Gary Allan later back peddled from his statements pretty hard after it caused a blowup.
Though there had been a few rumblings from other artists ahead of Tom Petty’s statements, it was his interview with Rolling Stone that got the 2013 Season of Discontent rolling in earnest.
“Well, yeah I mean, I hate to generalize on a whole genre of music, but it does seem to be missing that magic element that it used to have. I’m sure there are people playing country that are doing it well, but they’re just not getting the attention that the shittier stuff gets. But that’s the way it always is, isn’t it?
“But I hope that kind of swings around back to where it should be. But I don’t really see a George Jones or a Buck Owens or any anything that fresh coming up. I’m sure there must be somebody doing it, but most of that music reminds me of rock in the middle Eighties where it became incredibly generic and relied on videos.”
Luke Bryan’s pop country buddy Jason Aldean came to the rescue when Zac Brown called Luke Bryan’s song “That’s My Kind Of Night” the “worst song ever” (see below). The reaction also stimulated an explosive rant against Jason Aldean from Saving Country Music.
“I hear some other artist are bashing my boy @lukebryan new song, sayin its the worst song they have ever heard…….. To those people runnin their mouths, trust me when i tell u that nobody gives a shit what u think. Its a big ol hit so apparently the fans love it which is what matters. Keep doin ur thing LB!!!”
From all the usual pop frivolity, to the very unlikely win for Entertainer of the Year by George Strait, the 47th Annual CMA Awards became one of the biggest story lines in 2013, including the Saving Country Music LIVE Blog of the event, and our recap the next day:
“Was it a parting gift for Strait after announcing his final tour? Of course it was. But it doesn’t mean it wasn’t deserved, and it doesn’t mean it isn’t sweet, both for George, and for traditional country fans, even the ones who may not mark themselves as big George Strait supporters. Strait’s win marks the first time in a decade a true country artist has won the trophy.”
Willie’s long-time drummer and manager Paul English, his brother, and another crew member of Willie Nelson’s family band sustained minor injuries, but luckily the accident was not as bad as the picture appeared when it first surfaced. As the elder statesman of country music, the safety and health of Willie Nelson is always a concern for country fans.
“One of Willie Nelson’s band buses—not Willie’s famed Honeysuckle Rose—was involved in a bad accident late last night (11-22) in Texas on Interstate 30 in icy, Winter conditions. The accident occurred at roughly 3:30 AM Central time near Sulphur Springs. Multiple injuries have been reported, with multiple band members and/or crew injured, including Willie Nelson’s long-time drummer Paul English who reportedly broke his ankle.”
“I love Luke Bryan and he’s had some great songs, but this new song is the worst song I’ve ever heard. I know Luke, he’s a friend. ‘My Kind Of Night’ is one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard. I see it being commercially successful, in what is called country music these days, but I also feel like that the people deserve something better than that. Country fans and country listeners deserve to have something better than that, a song that really has something to say, something that makes you feel something. Good music makes you feel something. When songs make me wanna throw up, it makes me ashamed to even be in the same genre as those songs.”
When a country music legend is debilitated when he’s still in his mid 50’s, especially one with the voice and talent of Randy Travis, it is nothing short of a travesty. Continuing the pain and intrigue in the story has been the lack of information on just exactly how well Randy is doing, though his father says the situation looks bleak. Thoughts and prayers continue for Randy Travis, and maybe one of the big stories of 2014 will be his recovery and return.
“Country Music singer Randy Travis is in critical condition in a Texas hospital, according to his publicist, and has now suffered a stroke. Travis was admitted the the hospital on Sunday July 7th for complications with viral cardiomyopathy that he acquired recently.
Cardiomyopathy is a weakening of the heart muscle or another problem with the heart muscle. It often occurs when the heart cannot pump as well as it should, or with other heart function problems. Most patients with cardiomyopathy eventually suffer from heart failure. Though the term can apply to most diseases affecting the heart, it is usually only reserved for the most severe myocardial disease leading to heart failure.”
In a year of notable country deaths, this is one of the biggest in the history of the genre as arguably the best singer to ever grace country music passes away. From the the news of his death, to the the unveiling of the monument in Nashville, to the historic tribute show that transpired in place of what was supposed to be his last show, the passing of George Jones was one of the biggest stories in 2013, as it should be.
“George Jones, aka, The Possum, has died at age 81. While in the midst of his 60-date farewell tour, Jones was hospitalized for running a slight fever and for having irregular blood pressure, canceling shows in both Atlanta, and Salem, VA. His next show was to be tomorrow, April 27th, in Huntsville, AL. George had been suffering from breathing problems for the last few years. A family member told TMZ, ‘He has been on oxygen for a long while now and his lungs finally just couldn’t do it anymore and they collapsed and he passed away. He couldn’t breathe anymore on his own.’ The official cause of death has been named ‘Hypoxic Respiratory Failure.’”
Arguably one of the stories we’ll reflect back on as putting Saving Country music on the map, Blake Shelton in a documentary on GAC had some unkind things to say about country music’s classic and traditional country fans, causing Ray Price to respond, Willie Nelson to rename his tour the “Old Farts and Jackasses” tour, and making the term “Old Farts and Jackasses” a term of endearment amongst true country fans heretofore.
“If I am ‘Male Vocalist of the Year’ that must mean that I’m one of those people now that gets to decide if it moves forward and if it moves on. Country music has to evolve in order to survive. Nobody wants to listen to their grandpa’s music. And I don’t care how many of these old farts around Nashville going, ‘My God, that ain’t country!’ Well that’s because you don’t buy records anymore, jackass. The kids do, and they don’t want to buy the music you were buying.”
Despite all the massive news stories of 2013, this is the one that caused the most intrigue and outrage. From the news of Wayne’s death, to the controversial airing of a Spike TV reality show featuring the bar where Wayne was shot, to the two week wait until the arrest of the shooter Chris Ferrell, to the memorial, it was the biggest story of 2013, that with a potential trial or plea deal looming in the future, may also end up being one of the biggest stories of 2014 as well.
“Outlaw country music singer-songwriter and performer Wayne Mills of the Wayne Mills Band has been pronounced dead at Vanderbilt University Medical Center after being shot in the head at 5 AM this morning outside of the Pit and Barrel bar at 515 2nd Ave in Nashville. “God be with us all in this tragedy……” was posted on Wayne’s Facebook page.
“44 year-year-old Jerald Wayne Mills was at the Pit and Barrel early this morning when apparently an altercation erupted with the owner, Chris Michael Ferrell, after Wayne was smoking in a non-smoking area. Everyone else in the bar went outside, and later witnesses heard gunshots fired and called police. Ferrell told police he acted in self-defense.The bar owner has a valid handgun carry permit. Chris Ferrell and Wayne Mills were reportedly good friends, and they were hanging out at the bar after attending the George Jones Tribute earlier in the evening.”