This is NOT and award show people. This is not even an event to promote country music, because I’ll venture to guess not on piece of REAL country music will find its way on stage that night. The CMA is an infomercial. They might as well be selling you some super juicer or some real estate investment pyramid scheme.
And if you’ve ever wondered who is at the very top of this movement to make country into some pop sensation as opposed to the music of the country and the South and West, it is the CMA. Curb Records and The Grand Ole Opry are only elements. The true evil organization, the one that decides what will be played on the radio, the one who decides who will be a ‘superstar’ and who WON’T, it is the CMA. They are at the very top. Everyone else is just following marching orders.
There’s a saying in Nashville: “As welcome as a skunk at a picnic or Waylon Jennings at a CMA banquet.” So instead of listening to me, some average Joe, pissing and moaning about the CMA, let’s hear what one of the biggest country music superstars of all time has to say about it! (And pay attention to the bolded parts and think, couldn’t the same thing be said today?)
Waylon Waymore Watashin Jennings :
(from his autobiography)
“Jessi (Coulter, Waylon’s wife) was up for numerous honors at the 1975 CMA awards . . . and so I went with her, even though I couldn’t tolerate the CMA. They were suspicious of me as well. “Waylon,” they greeted me as I walked in. “You’re not here to start trouble, are you?”
Who, ol’ Waymore? Just because on year I’d stormed out of the awards and didn’t mind telling anyone who would listen why. I had been scheduled to perform “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line.” They said they were strapped for time, and they wanted me to cut the song to one verse and chorus. I said, “Why don’t I just dance across the stage and grin? Maybe do one line. That’ll give you a lot of time.” They told me not to get smart. Either I did it or I got out. They said, “We Don’t need you.” I decided that was true, and I left.
The CMA were always pulling fast ones like that. They were more concerned with their television show than honoring country music. One year they tried to make Ricky Van Shelton sing a song in the wrong key. They’d already cut the track for him to put his vocal over and he said it was too high. They told him to get off the grounds when he went out to his bus. Ran him off. They like to think they’re doing it for YOU, the country music fan, but they’re really in business for themselves.
Now they needed me again, because I was up for Best Male Vocalist, Song of the Year (I’m a Ramblin’ Man), Album of the Year, and Entertainer of the Year. As I walked in with Jessi (Coulter), scratching at my tuxedo, Neil (Reshem) came over to me. “You won male Vocalist,” he whispered. So much for secrecy. If nobody’s supposed to know the awards before they opened the envelope, how did word get around? . . . and though my first instinct was to get the hell gone, I thought that maybe by staying around I could raise some of the larger problems that faced country music, such as its close-mindedness and suspicion of change.
I tried to be nice in my acceptance speech, thanking everybody for their support, though I knew that block voting and mass trading between the big companies–we’ll give you 200 votes for your artist if you give your 400 votes to our writer–probably had more to do with it than anything else.
At least Glen Campbell, the host, was happy. “All I can say, Waylon, is it’s about DAMN time.” Predictably, the CMA got a few letters protesting Glen’s use of profanity. I was happier watching Charlie Rich get drunk and burn up the Entertainer of the Year award, holding a cigarette lighter to the envelope, please. They went to grab him, but when Charlie was drunk, it was best to stay out of his way.”
More on the CMA to come . . .