New Merle Haggard Tribute is a Head Scratcher
…that includes Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, and Thompson Square? Ugh…
Not since the second installment of the Waylon – The Music Inside series was released with the names of Colt Ford and Justin Moore making their way on the track list have we had such a quizzical collection of artists for a tribute album. As cool as it is to see any attention paid to Merle these days from the mainstream establishment, and to see Merle’s much-deserving song Ben Haggard make the cut of contributors, hearing Luke Bryan covering “Pancho & Lefty” (and is that really a Merle song anyway?) or Dustin Lynch taking time from singing about tractor sex to offer his take on “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” is not what’s going to get your average Merle fan’s motor running.
The Working Man’s Poet: A Tribute to Merle Haggard compilation out April 1st (no fooling) is being put together by Broken Bow Records, and of course, just like many of these tributes recently, it’s mostly a showcase of label talent with a “tribute” as the backdrop. Jason Aldean, Kristy Lee Cook, Dustin Lynch, Joe Nichols, Randy Houser, Parmalee, and Thompson Square all reside on Broken Bow and bow in on the track list, most with two contributions.
And if you were hoping that maybe they would approach this thing with the Merle spirit, just listen to what Luke Bryan has to say about his very “Mumford & Sons” take on “Pancho & Lefty”: “The original had a Spanish-Mexican flair. We took a real different approach with it …. something with some edge that moves along pretty good. It’s an interesting take.”
Something else interesting: They begged Garth Brooks to allow them to use his cover of “Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down” from his recent blockbuster Blame It All On My Roots box set. But just like the box set, you can only get the song if you buy the tribute from Wal-Mart.
Complicating the love-hate relationship a true Merle fan might have with this compilation, the ACM Awards being held April 6th are planning to bestow Merle Haggard with a Crystal Milestone Award as part of the ACM festivities, with this tribute as the centerpiece. Once again, it’s great to see the ACM’s or anyone in the mainstream acknowledge Merle (even if it’s half a decade after Taylor Swift was given the same Crystal Milestone Award), but you wonder how much of this is just a platform for Broken Bow to display their own talent.
Luckily if you’re looking for Merle Haggard tributes with not as many question marks swirling around them, there’s been a few of great ones released recently. Suzy Bogguss released Lucky last month: a 12-song tribute to The Hag. And Vince Gill with Paul Franklin paid tribute to Merle & Buck Owens last year with Bakersfield.
Track list for Working Man’s Poet: A Tribute to Merle Haggard:
- Misery and Gin, Randy Houser
- Footlights, Joe Nichols
- Going Where the Lonely Go, Jason Aldean
- Today I Started Loving You Again, Kristy Lee Cook
- Carolyn, Toby Keith
- Pancho and Lefty, Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley
- Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down, Garth Brooks (Walmart edition only)
- You Take Me for Granted, Thompson Square
- Mama Tried, Ben Haggard
- That’s the Way Love Goes, Dustin Lynch
- Make Up and Faded Blue Jeans, Jake Owen
- I’m a Lonesome Fugitive, James Wesley
- Workin’ Man Blues, Parmalee
- Are the Good Times Really Over, Jason Aldean
- Let’s Chase Each Other Around the Room, Thompson Square
- I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink, Dustin Lynch
- The Fightin’ Side of Me, James Wesley
- My Favorite Memory, Joe Nichols
- Ramblin’ Fever, Randy Houser
- Sing Me Back Home, Ben Haggard
March 21, 2014 @ 11:49 am
I’m glad to see Ben get some attention. That kid has some great pickin’ and signin’ talent. If you’re talking about “Saving Country Music” then he’s a guy that could be of some help. And if anyone should have been on here in my mind it’s Jason Eady, who sounds pretty similar to Merle.
March 21, 2014 @ 12:44 pm
I agree, Ben is definitely a bright spot on this, and hopefully it will make some more people aware of his talents.
March 31, 2014 @ 8:17 am
I saw Ben play with “The Strangers” when I saw Merle last summer. He is one hell of a guitar player that’s for sure.
March 21, 2014 @ 12:07 pm
Most of my favorite Merle songs are on there. Very glad “Make Up and Faded Blue Jeans” made it on there. Looks good to me!
Btw.. Say what you want about Joe Nichols, but that guy can flat out sing. Go ahead, run him in the ground just as most of you do anyone that is non Texas or post 1988..But the guy has some pipes. Glad he has made his way back on the radio.
March 21, 2014 @ 12:45 pm
Hey, I got no problem with Joe Nichols. He’s put out a couple of silly songs, but overall I won’t give anyone any static for liking him. I also know that he’s good friends with Merle, so it’s only fitting he is on here.
March 21, 2014 @ 4:56 pm
I remember right after Joe Nichols had released his very first album, I saw him at Billy Bob’s one night and he sang the hell out of some Merle songs. I specifically remember him singing “Footlights”. I thought he was gonna be a huge star back then. I’m pretty sure Merle is pretty good friends with Joe, TK and I think even Garth, so those don’t surprise me. Garth even said on his TV special that Merle was his all time favorite artist. Outside of those guys and Ben, the rest are head scratchers.
March 21, 2014 @ 8:06 pm
James Wesley is good as well.
March 22, 2014 @ 6:02 am
I don’t think Dierks Bentley is a head-scratcher on it. He’s actually quite good.
March 22, 2014 @ 7:23 am
That’s funny, I didn’t even see hi. I saw Luke Bryan’s name and them just moved on down. Can’t believe that is who Dierks is singing that with.
March 24, 2014 @ 8:33 am
“Garth even said on his TV special that Merle was his all time favorite artist.”
Take it with a grain of salt. He’s also said the same thing about George Jones, George Strait, Kiss, Billy Joel, James Taylor, Chris LeDoux, and Steve Wariner, among others, over the years.
March 22, 2014 @ 6:00 am
I completely agree. Joe Nichols is one who’s in the mainstream who actually keeps it closer to the traditional side. And I suppose a silly or novelty song isn’t a huge offense now and then, as long as it isn’t a regular occurrence (even Johnny Cash had “A Boy Named Sue”).
Which is also why David Nail’s “Whatever She’s Got” doesn’t bother me too much, because it’s not a recurring theme throughout his entire catalog. And overall, his new album “I’m a Fire” is really amazing.
March 22, 2014 @ 2:12 pm
I like Joe Nichols, he’s far more country than 90% of the artists getting air play these day’s.
Another singer I wish could get some air play is Trent Tomlinson, he has some pretty good songs. “One wing in the fire” was his first but he never caught on for some reason.
March 21, 2014 @ 12:16 pm
“The original had a Spanish-Mexican flair. We took a real different approach with it ”¦. something with some edge that moves along pretty good. It”™s an interesting take.”
probably the same sort of edge kylie Minogue put on her cover of “the locomotion” back in the 80s.
March 21, 2014 @ 12:20 pm
Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll listen to my Haggard playlist.
March 21, 2014 @ 12:24 pm
Parmalee on Workin’ Man Blues? Aren’t they the Chris Daughtry wannabes that failed as a rock band before being taken in by Nashville? WTF?!?!
March 21, 2014 @ 12:30 pm
Haha I thought I was the only one who thought they were Daughtry wanna be’s..I can’t stand Parmalee.
March 22, 2014 @ 6:05 am
You are like the third and fourth people respectively who’ve referred to them as Daughtry wannabes or Daughtry-lite (at least that I’ve seen).
Actually, at first, “Feels Like Carolina” stuck in my head enough that I gave their album a listen…good God was that a mistake.
March 21, 2014 @ 12:37 pm
I’m excited to hear what Ben Haggard will do with the tracks he’s on but to borrow half a line from a Rebel Son song, I’d rather get dipped in shit than hear the rest of the album. luke byran doing “Pancho & Lefty”? Despicable. Townes Van Zandt is rolling over in his grave.
March 23, 2014 @ 12:01 am
I was thinking the same thing. Luke Bryan on a Townes song is downright disgraceful.
March 21, 2014 @ 12:39 pm
As big a fan I am of Merle this collection isn’t or won’t be on my list to get. Way to many posers. With the exception of Joe Nichols none of they are fit to shine Merle’s shoes let alone sing his songs.
March 21, 2014 @ 1:54 pm
Yup — Joe’s contributions aside, I’d rather just get the new Suzy Bogguss album, myself. :\
March 21, 2014 @ 2:07 pm
I’ll have to look into Suzy’s cd.
March 21, 2014 @ 12:40 pm
Joe Nichols does justice for footlights. Its on joes crickets cd and he does a superb job on it.
March 21, 2014 @ 12:41 pm
Looking forward to hearing Ben Haggard.
March 21, 2014 @ 12:44 pm
I have mixed feeling about these kind of projects in general. On the one hand it’s good to expose a great artist and his songs to a younger generation of fans but on the other hand usually the people involved lack the talent and appreciation of the source material to contribute anything of value.
I think the best examples of tribute albums are done by individual artists with an actual point of view like the Suzy Bogguss album which was a woman’s interpretation of Merle or the Gill/Franklin which was a tribute to the Bakersfield sound. Just getting a bunch of C and D-list current country acts together doesn’t appeal to me at all.
But overall this can’t hurt I guess but I’ll stick to the original thank you very much.
April 7, 2014 @ 10:38 am
Very much agree. Tribute albums should be done by the artists who have a true, deep seeded appreciation for the musicians they are covering. Like Merle himself paying tribute to Jimmie Rodgers and Bob Wills.
This is totally Nashville manufactured bullshit. The light being that maybe it gave a chance for most of these musicians to play quality music for the first time in their manufactured by Nashville short-lived careers.
April 7, 2014 @ 10:47 am
March 21, 2014 @ 1:03 pm
Jason Aldean singing “Are the Good Times Really Over”? Sorry Merle, love ya but no thanks.
March 21, 2014 @ 1:12 pm
I think Aldean answers Merle’s question with that cover….
March 21, 2014 @ 1:12 pm
“The original had a Spanish-Mexican flair. We took a real different approach with it ”¦. something with some edge that moves along pretty good. It”™s an interesting take.”
Um, Luke? That’s not the original.
The notion of Luke Bryan singing a song written by Townes Van Zant is some seriously bizarre shit. I’m not sure if there’s a better example of the two extremes in the music world than Luke Bryan and Townes Van Zant.
March 21, 2014 @ 1:22 pm
Also, Bryan’s “something with some edge” comment is comical. “Edge” isn’t a word that comes to mind when I think of his music.
March 21, 2014 @ 6:05 pm
Haha, so true. What’s next? Brantley Gilbert sings Mickey Newbury? Florida George Line tackles Tom T. Hall?
March 23, 2014 @ 8:46 am
Please don’t say that, even in jest ….. you might give them ideas!
March 23, 2014 @ 7:03 pm
I doubt that FGL or BG would even know who I’m talking about, so we’re good.
May 24, 2014 @ 1:49 am
Brantley Gilbert…that name says it all. lol
March 24, 2014 @ 8:38 am
“Florida George Line tackles Tom T. Hall?”
I can hear it now:
I love my big ol’ jacked-up truck,
Girls that like to f***
Moonshine in a glass,
March 22, 2014 @ 11:22 am
“I”™m not sure if there”™s a better example of the two extremes in the music world than Luke Bryan and Townes Van Zant.”
Man, you said it. I came here to say the exact same thing about “Pancho and Lefty.”
March 21, 2014 @ 1:36 pm
This looks bad enough with Aldean, Bryan and Parmalee. (What, Carolina Rain wasn’t available?) I’ll pass, thanks.
March 21, 2014 @ 1:51 pm
Love the Hag. Hate these guys singing his songs.
March 21, 2014 @ 2:12 pm
Looking forward to hearing Joe Nichols. He’s had some pretty solid albums. Has one of the best and most underrated voices on radio today.
March 21, 2014 @ 3:00 pm
Heck, if I want to listen to artists that probably should not be covering Hag songs, I’ll just dust off my old “Tulare Dust – A Songwriters Tribute to Merle” CD! Dave Alvin and Tom Russell gathered together an interesting bunch of songwriters for that project years ago, and listening to many of the cuts you quickly understand why they didn’t call them “singer-songwriters” on the album jacket! (lol)
This Broken Bow project sounds like a joke. What those doofuses really need to release are the three albums worth of material Megan Mullins recorded with that label that have been sitting on a shelf collecting dust since at least 2009. Sheesh!
March 24, 2014 @ 8:41 am
About the same time Tulare Dust came out there was another tribute called “Mama’s Hungy Eyes” featuring more aminstream artists of the day that was pretty good.
March 21, 2014 @ 3:23 pm
Did The Hag have any say in this ? Worst case, I hope he and his family rake in ton due to the masses of Humanoids ( Bobby Heenan’s a comic genius ) going out and pawning their Yeti coolers for the cash to go out and buy the material now that the singing Hollister models have recorded it.
March 24, 2014 @ 6:09 am
LOVE the Bobby Heenan reference! Could have added “9 to 5 ham and egger”, which I heard the Brain add to Humanoid.
March 24, 2014 @ 6:45 am
How about ” As strong as on ox, and almost as smart. “
March 21, 2014 @ 3:24 pm
Head scratcher? More of a ball scratcher.
March 21, 2014 @ 3:46 pm
Well, I’m just glad Ben is doing “Mama Tried”.
March 21, 2014 @ 3:51 pm
One thing that’s very positive about this is at least they are doing this with a country artist unlike Big Machine and their Motley Crue tribute album.
So there’s that.
March 21, 2014 @ 4:13 pm
Judging by most of the participants, it will still SOUND like a Motley Crue tribute album.
March 21, 2014 @ 4:17 pm
Speaking of albums being released, it’s been about a year since Michael Jackson Montgomery announced Bleeding Cowboy. Has there been any word on that?
March 21, 2014 @ 5:01 pm
What if Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley do to “Pancho and Lefty” what Darius Rucker did to “Wagon Wheel”? Are you ready to hear 18 year old assholes tell us what a great new song “Pancho and Lefty” is?!
Terrifying, less the exposure to a true songwriting masterpiece.
March 21, 2014 @ 8:38 pm
Maybe Merle and Willie already went Darius on it.
March 21, 2014 @ 5:19 pm
I suppose I should be happy that there’s a tribute to Hag out there,
but in reality I could give 2 S**ts.
Why the hell would I want to listen to any of these songs? I’m depressed enough on my own, thanks.
Yeah, I’ll just spin the real thing.
March 21, 2014 @ 7:32 pm
I’m offended by Luke Bryan being a part of “Pancho and Lefty.” That just isn’t right.
March 21, 2014 @ 8:04 pm
3 good artists on that entire album Ben Haggard, Joe Nichols and James Wesley and he is buried on the bottom.
March 21, 2014 @ 10:07 pm
Nichols is still as strong a vocalist as ever, but even his latest album “Crickets” is absolutely mediocre and panders half the time to the youngest demographics.
His current single “Yeah” is a case in point. Tailgates? Check! Hot girl in a sun dress? Check! An iPod? Check! Not to mention the hook is a dumb idea to wrap an entire country song around.
Take “Old School Country Song” and his read of “Footlights” and skip most everything else.
March 21, 2014 @ 10:18 pm
Nichols newer stuff hasn’t been that good but atleat he has some talent in comparison to others on this album . Wesley has a good song in “real” and is good acoustically. He also did the backround song on the farmer dodge ram commerial.
March 21, 2014 @ 10:28 pm
Nichols just needs to be himself and not emulate the Luke Bryan and Tim McGraw mid-life crisis modes of career management. Unfortunately, he’s playing right into those temptations with musical face-palms like “Hard To Be Cool”, “Yeah” and “Y’ant To”. And then there are other tracks that don’t follow the formula quite as aggressively, but would nonetheless quality as “bro-mance” songs.
James Wesley has only released one album to date (mostly due to corporate executive interference), but from what I’ve sampled of his work, Wesley is among the stronger acts to emerge in recent memory.
I quite liked “Walking Contradiction” in particular
March 21, 2014 @ 10:36 pm
Wesley actually has two albums. His first called “Life Goes On” was released in 1999 with Warner Brothers. He left the mainstream for a while after that.
March 22, 2014 @ 12:54 am
If most new country was as well composed as the likes of “Sunny and 75” I’d dig a lot more of it. Even if that song pandered, it was fantastic. I also love his tendencies to end songs with nice guitar solos. “Sunny and 75” packed so much emotional punch. Just as a song, not even worrying about whether or not we could tag it “country,” it’s a fantastic song.
March 22, 2014 @ 1:43 am
“Sunny & 75” isn’t a bad song surely. It is well-structured and bolsters a potent, soaring hook, I agree.
However, it is clearly an EDM-influenced song masquerading on country airwaves as a Hail Mary pass to revive Joe Nichols’ radio career. It still astonishes me that of all the commentary I’ve read surrounding this single, I’m the only one who has called out the four-on-the-floor thumping beat which drives it. That is clearly derivative of much crossover EDM fare. Turn up the treble on your studio and tell me you can NOT easily envision this fitting into a club playlist, despite still being driven by some instrumentation.
Still, that doesn’t make it a bad song by any means. It’ among the more satisfying ear candy I’ve heard on mainstream “country” airwaves as of late. “Yeah”, on the other hand……… -__- -__- -__-
March 22, 2014 @ 4:55 am
I couldn’t agree more with regard to Crickets. One awful, clichÃ©d radio-pandering song after another, with only two or three bright spots. From the guy who brought us Man With a Memory, Revelation, and Real Things, what a huge disappointment.
March 21, 2014 @ 9:44 pm
Of course Jake Owen covers the song about blue jeans. That guy loves to sings about them. I’m surprised he hasn’t done Wrangler ads yet.
March 21, 2014 @ 10:08 pm
Right. Since he is basically the Fabio of modern corporate “country” music.
And I mean that. I wish him well and he sure looks like model material. Just don’t waste our time, Jake!
March 21, 2014 @ 10:21 pm
All this gem needs is Florida Georgia Line’s cover of “Lonesome Fugitive.” You know, something with an edge that moves along real good. Don’t know anything about Parmalee, but after googling them it looks like they have about as much business singing Working Man’s Blues as Castro does singing the Star-Spangled Banner. Give me a Thirty Tigers Merle tribute album any day.
Reckless in Texas
March 21, 2014 @ 10:29 pm
Such mixed feelings about this. While im elated to hear the youth will have the opportunity to be enlightened as to who Merle Haggard is. He will be represented by the most disgusting whores of country music. A real outlaw that served time represented by abunch of smart water drinkin, skinny jean wearin, manicure havin, eyebrow plucking faggets…
March 21, 2014 @ 10:49 pm
This is one tribute album I would NOT like to see made. I hardly find this
any sort of tribute to arguably the greatest all round country singer/songwriter with Luke Bryan, Aldean, TK, etc… Wretch!!!!!!!
Where’s FGL & Brantley Gilbert while they’re at it…the sooner we forget about this the better. And No, this won’t take young listeners to the Hag and all of a sudden turn
country music around.
Toby in AK
March 21, 2014 @ 11:22 pm
Had to google Parmalee, but I wish I hadn’t. No thanks.
Why anyone would buy this instead of Bakersfield is beyond me.
March 22, 2014 @ 1:55 am
Won’t judge any of it until I hear the album. Most of the artists on the album are great vocalists, Jake Owen has some of the best pitch control and overall tone I’ve heard, Dierks has one of my favorite voices even though it’s not perfect at least he steers clear from the auto-tune garbage.
Trig can you PLEASE touch on the fact that FGL has gone into studio and recorded both “Friends In Low Places” and “I’m In A Hurry”….it’s on YouTube this isn’t a joke
March 22, 2014 @ 5:02 am
Other than Joe Nichols and Ben Haggard, this is a big bowl of meh. I’m down for a Haggard tribute with good artists, but this one is an easy pass.
March 22, 2014 @ 7:22 am
The worst part is they’re going to profit off this album. Are they not happy with the fact that their chappy music is raking in millions from yuppies, middle aged soccer mom’s and teenage girls? Where does the greed end? They sure as hell ain’t doing it for the sake of showing the youth Merle Haggard. It’s sickening.
March 22, 2014 @ 7:31 am
Trigger, WTF happened to the new album reviews? Yes, I know the negative draw traffic but it has become a bit lopsided. Or is there a dearth of new releases?
March 22, 2014 @ 10:30 am
I posted an album review today for a reissue from Emmylou Harris. I posted a review earlier in the week for the new album from Don Williams. I’ve posted more album reviews in 2014 so far than at this same time in 2013. And in 2013, I posted more album reviews than I ever have in a given year. Yet the amount of comments like this, and the amount of people on Facebook, etc. saying that I no longer support music increases every day. AND, the amount of people reading album reviews on this site and other sites is in an absolute tailspin, significantly jeopardizing the entire institution of album reviews. I am doing my job, as are other journalists. It is up to the public to engage with this content, which they are not in historically low numbers. My guess is that in 18 months, album reviews will no longer exist in the traditional setting.
Also, please note that last week I spent a significant amount of time at South By Southwest with the purpose of finding new artists to review and discuss on this site. Though that may have not resulted in any direct review content right here, right now, it will in the long run from the increased knowledge of many artists. Also, appreciate the time that it takes to really listen to an album, understand what an artist is trying to say, dissect the content and really let it sink in, and why it would be a disservice to everyone to worry about volume above quality when it comes to approaching album reviews. Having said that, I could post 5 album reviews a week, and I would still see these types of comments. That is why above the financial and personal sacrifices I’ve made to keep this site going, it is comments like this that break my will to continue more than anything. That, and Facebook’s continued and tightening stranglehold on the internet, including its propensity to never show users my positive music coverage because it isn’t popular.
March 22, 2014 @ 12:52 pm
I don’t think most of the people posting these kind of comments have even made a cursory search of your main page which almost always has at least 2-3 reviews as well as a couple of other articles about less well known acts. I guess it goes with the business of operating a site like this that you have to have a Facebook presence but it is such a waste of time in my opinion.
As for album reviews I think that there decline in impact is just an extension of the formats loss of relevance. Individuals songs or tracks is the future unfortunately and I think a fewer percentage of music fans are looking for album length content. I try to read most of your reviews just because I think it’s some of your best writing and even if the artist isn’t my cup of tea I can appreciate the time and thought put into the review. But I often don’t comment on these articles because most times I haven’t heard the album so I feel I don’t think I have much to add. I know that number of comments don’t always equate to page views but I think your more general articles are easier to comment on because they require less from the reader. For me the wide variety of articles on this site is one of the main appeals so I hope you keep up the reviews and the silly stuff as well.
March 22, 2014 @ 2:30 pm
“But I often don”™t comment on these articles because most times I haven”™t heard the album so I feel I don”™t think I have much to add. ”
Same here. I read every album review in its entirety, but rarely comment because I usually haven’t heard the album yet and can’t say anything substantive.
March 22, 2014 @ 2:44 pm
I appreciate all of y’all reading my album reviews, and I don’t want to attempt to guilt anyone into reading anything I post. I post stuff fully knowing some stuff will appeal to some, and some stuff will appeal to others, and I don’t expect anyone to read everything I post, though I know there’s a lot that do, which is truly humbling.
But the fact remains that very few people read album reviews. And no, I’m not talking about the amount of comments they get (though I appreciate any comments, too), I’m talking about traffic, which comments are not always indicative of. And again, this is not just a problem here, but a problem many sites are having, and the reason many are going away or becoming virtually dormant, or getting away from true music coverage. I’m just saying this to illustrate I am keeping up my end of the bargain, and to illustrate the complexity of the situation. I’m not trying to chide anyone for not reading my reviews, or goading them into doing so when they don’t want to.
March 22, 2014 @ 7:01 pm
Wow, I wasn’t aware views on album reviews had declined so much. Any theories about that?
The comment about people focusing on individual songs rather than albums is interesting, but it seems like we are already moving away from the era of individual song downloads into the streaming music era. And streaming services like Spotify mostly offer music in the full album format.
If I had to take a wild guess, I’d say maybe fewer people are inclined to read professional reviews if they can just hear the music immediatley on Spotify or other services? At least, I hope it’s not because music itself is declining, which would puzzle me because it still seems pretty dang popular.
March 22, 2014 @ 4:49 pm
Not really a Merle fan (Sacrilege, to say that here I know). So an article like this would not interest me. But as there is nothing else new here to read, I read it. Yes, it’s true you can tell by the comments those who did not read the article. However, I do not believe they are in the majority Trigger.
Strait Country 81
March 23, 2014 @ 8:44 pm
It is Sacrilege i’m sure your favorite is nowhere near close to Merle
March 23, 2014 @ 10:06 pm
Sounds like you know who my favorite is. Well, you’re probably right, but I love my favorite. I don’t like Merle.
March 23, 2014 @ 7:02 pm
I think it’s more a lack of albums that appeal to MY/YOUR/ONE’S specific taste. This site is not Saving Nick’s Music, it’s Saving Country Music. There’s a pretty broad range of music showcased here, which is a good thing. However, if I’m waiting for the next Sturgill Simpson or Hellbound Glory to come along, and expect a number of those types of albums in a given period, I will always be let down.
If I’m not an Emmylou fan, I’m not reading the review. That shouldn’t translate to, “Well, there’s no reviews here anymore!” But, I see where it’s easy to think that way.
Trigger, since you mentioned it, what do you think the evolution or death of album reviews will bring? What comes next?
March 24, 2014 @ 11:12 am
Though the death of album reviews is disappointing in the fact that it takes what I believe to be an important element in the music making process for artists, and music vetting for fans out of the equation, it may just be a symptom of the changing times. I’m not necessarily shaking my fists at the death of album reviews and much people shaking their fists at me for not writing enough of them, while at the same time never reading them. Maybe because of the increased accessibility of music these days, album reviews are obsolete. It used to be that you had to be choosy in what music you consumed because it cost a lot of money, so people would read album review to help guide them. Now you can pull up an album on Spotify and judge for yourself. At the same time, the music marketplace is more crowded than ever, and I still see a place for people trying to help consumers make sense of it all being important. The album review just may not be the best context to do it in anymore.
I think there’s this sense in some people that the next Sturgill Simpson is out there, I’m just not covering him for some reason because I’m not doing enough album reviews. In reality, it would be better for me and my readers to be out pounding the pavement, looking for the next Sturgill Simpson (which is what I was doing during SXSW) instead of sitting at home, writing one album review after another that nobody is going to read anyway, for artists that don’t have that type of singular talent.
Even more worrisome, is that you may write about the next Sturgill Simpson, but nobody will read about it, because nobody is reading reviews anymore. As music journalists, it’s our job to figure out how to connect people with music in ways that are engaging and creative. But it still is a two way street with readers. This is a very big problem right now in journalism, across every media platform. And right now, Facebook, viralnova, upworthy, and other such sites are winning the day.
March 24, 2014 @ 6:09 pm
That all makes a lot of sense. Funny thing is, your comment about “not covering the next big act for whatever reason” is such a huge catch 22 for you. I completely agree with you there. I’m sure I speak for other regulars here that if we can give you any help or useful input, let us know.
Thanks for what you’re doing!
April 4, 2014 @ 10:28 pm
I don;t know Trigger, In the past I bought everything my favorite artist puts out and whatever was popular and caught my attention on the radio. I never really paid attention to album reviews. Most of the albums on my list are a result of your reviews. This might be a problem with journalism, but I am not convince you are sharing this problem with them.
March 25, 2014 @ 10:14 pm
I would prefer to think readership is based on the country music artist and that to lose readers would only become a problem when so much of the time is spent discussing everything but country. come on into the real country south and you’ll find you articals booming…if you stick to your country guns and stay away from all the phony commentaries.
country is country is country and country fans are plentiful when they find the steady reporter who don’t drift in and out so much. let’s stick to country or go the way of all the other confused people, jumpin from one thing to the other, loses readers.
Strait Country 81
March 22, 2014 @ 8:51 am
These artist obviously wont be Holding Things Together on this album.
March 22, 2014 @ 10:43 am
On further thought I’d rather listen to my dog fart than this cd. Doesn’t apply to Ben Haggard or Joe Nicoles
March 22, 2014 @ 1:39 pm
Too much Boogie Woogie….Merle said it….This has got to be the record label looking to use the “current” country music environment and stars to make some $$$ off Merle….I hope this album will lead people to true country music….Sometimes you have to hear it thru a popular source to wake up to the truth
March 23, 2014 @ 7:21 pm
“Too Much Boogie Woogie” It just hit me when I read that,the people Merle is talking about in that song are on this album!!
March 22, 2014 @ 2:30 pm
Nothing but a bunch of poseurs.
March 22, 2014 @ 6:04 pm
Just buy Suzy Bogguss’ Merle tribute album, “Lucky”.
March 22, 2014 @ 10:51 pm
They should of got Alan Jackson and Georgestrait to sing on the album
March 23, 2014 @ 9:57 am
George and Alan really should have done an album together, Murder On Music Row & Designated Drinker are two great songs.
March 23, 2014 @ 8:48 am
Sod this ….. just play a Merle album, ANY Merle Album, instead!
March 23, 2014 @ 2:10 pm
Luke Bryan singing Pancho & Lefty?
Please let me off the train now. I don’t want to travel any further towards this shit show.
Why couldn’t they make a tribute album in the vein of High Cotton: A Tribute To Alabama? Jason Isbell has a phenomenal cover of Pancho & Lefty. Get the Turnpike Troubadours to sing Misery and Gin, Jason Boland to do Mama Tried. Let Holly Williams, Sturgill Simpson and Hayes Carll cut some songs.
March 23, 2014 @ 6:12 pm
I heard about this album in SiriusXM’s Willie’s Roadhouse station; I figured Trigger would most likely have something about this here. Thanks for the info, Trigger.
Wow, what an unimpressive lineup, barring Ben Haggard, who has every right to be on this, and to a lesser degree, Joe Nichols, who at least has some idea and respect who Merle Haggard is. Dierks Bentley is a passable inclusion, I suppose, but he barely makes the cut, IMO.
I look over this list, and like most here, and I’m dismayed by Bryan, Aldean, and the abysmal Thompson Square in particular performing country classics by a guy so far out of their league it’s ridiculous. What dismays me most is that while we can all acknowledge that country music needs and should evolve, none of these guys represent a meaningful evolution of the genre. Furthermore, have these guys ever shown any respect or given props to Haggard anywhere publicly before this? Doubtful. Minus Joe Nichols, I doubt any of these guys are serious Haggard fans.
This album is a meaningless tip of the hat to the country music trope of being respectful to those artists that came before you. I’m not convinced, even in the slightest, that any of these guys give a crap about classic country, Haggard, or anyone else who represents the Old Guard. In fact, I would say these guys probably subscribe more to the Blake Shelton school of thought about classic artists if it came right down to it. This seems like a lame cross-promotional attempt to snag the dollars of an older listening demographic. Problem is, most of the folks in this lineup don’t have the talent to do the songs justice.
I’m betting Merle will be gracious and low-key about this release, but it really makes me wonder what he ACTUALLY thinks about it, given his well documented distaste for the machinations of the industry, like The Grand Ole Opry, etc. I’m sure he’s pleased his son appears on this, but past that, I would think that he’s less than thrilled. Just a supposition!
It also concerns me that some of Haggard’s best songs are done by guys woefully out of their element: Aldean and Houser, anyone?
Eh, this release will come and go, without much fanfare, which is sad, because the Hag deserves better. And he sure as hell deserves a better lineup doing his songs.
“Wow, Luke Bryan sure sounds great on Pancho and Lefty!”, said no one, ever.
March 24, 2014 @ 8:30 pm
I saw Joe Nichols sing “Footlights ” . Wow!
March 25, 2014 @ 7:04 pm
“Footlights” is a hell of a song, and Haggard sings it with the knowing voice of a man who’s been on the road and in the business more years than he can remember.
Like many Haggard songs, he hits this one out of the park and reminds everyone why he’s one of country’s greats.
I defy any of today’s artists to craft a song and sing it with the feeling Merle does. The man is not only an amazing country singer, but one of the finest musicians the United States has produced, regardless of genre. Even though I’m not American, it’s obvious that he embodies a part of what American music is, and that he’s a national treasure.
March 25, 2014 @ 10:17 pm
Merle, Willie, Kris and about half million more whose names are unknown are looking for the country acts, not the modern day crazy crap.
March 26, 2014 @ 6:20 am
I love my Mama’s Hungry Eyes album. A tribute to Merle. (1994) AWESOME record. I still listen it today. Clint Black on I Take A Lot of Pride In What I Am has always killed me on how much he sounds like Hag to me on that record. Pam Tillis doing Silver Wings… swoon! Love it. Alabama doing Sing Me Back Home… is so damn good.
To me this record will always the tribute to Merle’s songs and classics. It is classy and perfect.
March 28, 2014 @ 2:24 pm
I know most won’t believe me but the ONLY song really ‘changed’ here (other than maybe pronouns for female singers) is “Pancho & Lefty.”
Merle’s behind this record. The liner notes are from him (he’s longtime friends with Broken Bow Records’ owner) every photo in the package comes from Merle, etc. It’s a showcase, mostly, for BBMG’s three labels of artists. Luke, Dierks, Garth (who I can totally see hiring Broken Bow to promote his next album’s singles) Jake and of course Aldean are the artists meant to get cursory fans interested and if it gets them to even listen to Hag, to me the mission is accomplished.
April 19, 2014 @ 5:54 pm
I like Merle Haggard,yet I will not buy the tribute because the only one who does great on it is Garth Brooks.Where is Clint Black on it?
I do not listen to the radio either.
I do not have XM Radio because it is expensive so I listen to my cd collection and devices.
Country Music needs to go Outlaw again.
It has lost its edge and rootsiness too much.
April 19, 2014 @ 5:56 pm
I do not listen to Jason Aldean or Luke Bryan at all because their music is ok.
Garth Brooks and Merle Haggard will get listens from me occasionally,yet not those other two men.
I do not like Taylor Swift at all.
Carrie Underwood is ok though.