On Chris Stapleton And Sturgill Simpson’s Saturday Night Live Performance (A Review)
At 12:01 last night (or this morning), after all the hands had been shaken, and all the hugs exchanged on the Saturday Night Live set in New York’s Rockefeller Center, you didn’t know what to do with yourself. Okay, now you’re supposed to just nestle into bed and act like that didn’t just happen? You felt like you could take on the damn world, while a few short hours previous you were perfectly oblivious that Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson were even planning to perform together. Now you had a musical feeling that you can only equate to when the few lucky bastards were able to see pairings of musical greats like this live back in the 70’s.
Chris Stapleton has now become the most polarizing man in country music, and it’s not even close. He’s more polarizing than Sam Hunt. To certain segments of traditional country fans, he’s more polarizing than Trump. And it’s all due to his success. The people who hate Stapleton—who are a smallish, but a vehement and vocal minority—will get a hearty laugh at all the hyperbole that has and will accompany the performance of Chris Stapleton on Saturday Night Live, January 27th, 2018. And the fact that the turncoat Sturgill Simpson was with him will make it even worse.
But the main reason Chris Stapleton has made for the imperfect country music superstar that certain traditional and independent fans can’t get behind is not because he’s not country enough. It’s not because he wrote songs for Luke Bryan and Thomas Rhett—which by the way, he didn’t. He wrote songs as a professional songwriter that ended up being cut by these guys. It’s not because he’s unwilling to speak out about the bad parts of the mainstream that he’s very much a part of—which is unfortunate. The primary problem with Chris Stapleton is that he’s been successful, which makes many with a eternal underdog spirit amid a culture of losing unable to identify with him.
The other problem is that Chris Stapleton has been suffering from a lack of passion.
There is a good chance Chris Stapleton hasn’t written a complete song in the last two years. His voice carries a tremendous amount of soul and vitality when he sings, but yet sometimes his performances feel a little flat. It’s too easy, too natural for him to sing, so he doesn’t have to try. Being on stage for Stapleton is a safe space, because he’s so good at it, and his wife is right there by his side. It’s effortless. And he’s a risk averse kind of guy to begin with. His From A Room records from 2017, they felt like they could have used more energy.
That’s why putting Sturgill Simpson on stage with Stapleton was such perfect chemistry. Sturgill Simpson is the risk taker. He’s the one that shook up country music by adding psychedelic influences to a traditional country record, by slamming his Telecaster down on that same Saturday Night Live stage, by staging a protest outside the 2017 CMA Awards. Sturgill is the trouble-minded “fuck it all” kind of guy that is exactly what Chris Stapleton needed to come out of his shell. And that’s exactly what happened Saturday night.
At the same time, Sturgill Simpson knew his place. If he had upstaged Stapleton, it would have not been a good look for either. This was still a Chris Stapleton performance, with Sturgill playing second fiddle. And as many of the electric guitar players out there likely noticed, Sturgill Simpson didn’t play in a Sturgill tone, he played in a Stapleton tone. He fit the songs, he learned and practiced the verses he sung to be respectful to the composition. And he did exactly what he needed to do.
“Midnight Train to Memphis” was a thing of beauty. And sure, if you’re a die hard country purist, there’s not much there for you to get excited about. Probably seeing some label such a performance “country” is a turn off. But this isn’t the Grand Ole Opry–with all respect to that hallowed stage. This is SNL, and you’re supposed to shake things up. You’re supposed to get loud, and appeal to the wide audience in a medium that stretches well beyond country, and especially traditional country. And that’s what Chris Stapleton did.
You could tell Stapleton was feeding off of Sturgill’s energy. Stapleton was being the Stapleton of the SteelDrivers and the Jompson Brothers, not the accidental multi-millionare from becoming the best selling country star for now two years running. It helped that “Midnight Train to Memphis” was originally a SteelDrivers song Stapleton wrote with Mike Henderson.
The second song “Hard Livin'” didn’t feel like it had the same vitality as the first, and the pauses in the composition felt a little awkward. But for some, this was the superior performance since it was more sedated and “in the pocket,” and the more country song co-written by Kendell Marvel, compared to the raucous “Midnight Train to Memphis.” Having Dave Cobb on hand for the performances also added to the exceptional nature of what you were witnessing.
The pairing of country music heroes used to be a much more common occurrence back in the 70’s. Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty—they didn’t just do a few passing songs together, they did entire album collections together in their eras. Now it takes years to get two guys like Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton on stage for one performance. But we saw that the results can be magical. And it was perfect that it was a virtual surprise. With the type of negative and acrid mindsets we all suffer from in these modern times, there was not enough time to convince ourselves it would probably suck, or could not be as good as we anticipate, instead of just taking in the moment in the raw.
Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves comparing these performances to Willie and Waylon back in the day, or getting delusions of grandeur about a possible lineup of The Highwaymen 2.0 that may never happen. Time will be the ultimate judge and critic of these SNL performances, but for sure they had an impact much greater than Stapleton’s first trip to the SNL stage, which seemed to come and go with little fanfare, just like his mild collaboration with Justin Timberlake earlier this week (remember that? It feels like eons ago now). Instead, the 2nd Chris Stapleton SNL performance felt more like the impact seen when Sturgill Simpson performed SNL, which means we shouldn’t be surprised to see a sales surge for Staplaton’s already-impressive numbers shortly. The chatter behind these performances is astronomical.
But that won’t stop the critics of both men. And the accolades won’t stop here either. Chris Stapleton will be performing Sunday at the Grammy Awards with Emmylou Harris. He’s up for three awards, including Country Album of the Year. Jason Isbell, who felt almost missing on the stage last night, is up for Americana Album of the Year. Some wonder why we can’t stop talking about Stapleton, Isbell, and Sturgill — Stapleton, Isbell and Sturgill. It’s because they continue to do remarkable things. They continue to turn the country music industry on its head. And of course there are better, and more country artists out there, and women who also deserve some attention (though didn’t Morgane look gorgeous last night?). But paying attention to these three men means no disrespect to anyone else. They’re opening doors, they’re creating foundations for the Cody Jinks’s and Margo Price’s to benefit from in the future.
But we’re living in one of those moments in country music history you must take a moment to bask in. Put all the political bullshit aside. That was 2017. Yes, Chris Stapleton and Strugill Simpson are imperfect country music stars, and not even exactly country. But the same went for Willie and Waylon in their day—though not to make a direct comparison. Live in the musical moment. Take in these times with a sense of gratefulness. Choose to find the joy in these situations as opposed to the disappointment. Because they may be fleeting, and years from now, others will be watching these performances and will be jealous that you got to see them in their native times, experience it live, and will be able to hold on and cherish those memories forever.
January 28, 2018 @ 10:43 am
Big tip of cap to CS sharing his moment. It was so good
January 28, 2018 @ 10:47 am
Great article. Could you ever see them dropping a project together, maybe an EP?
January 28, 2018 @ 10:55 am
I think there will be time for this later in their careers, when kids are grown and careers established on their own.
January 28, 2018 @ 4:58 pm
i’m hoping for a proper chris/morgane duet album. we’ll see if isbell and shires beat them to the punch. those great man&woman collab albums need to make a comeback. that’s one obvious way to get women more visibility in the roots genres.
January 28, 2018 @ 10:52 am
I like both performers a lot but I felt as if Sturgill stole the show. It seems the had had equal camera time as Chris did even though it was Chris’ performance.
January 28, 2018 @ 11:58 am
What’s funny is when Will Ferrel into’d the first performance, he said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Chris Stapleton.”
The second performance: “Ladies and Gentlemen, Chris Stapleton & Sturgill Simpson.”
January 28, 2018 @ 10:58 am
It was definitely magical and something great to see. I woke up in a good mood this morning just thinking about it. People are gonna bitch and complain about anything I guess. If Waylon came back from the dead and played Honky Tonk Heroes live in its entirety, someone would still find something to complain about. I hope we see more of those types of collaborations in the future.
January 28, 2018 @ 3:49 pm
I totally agree with this statement.
January 28, 2018 @ 11:09 am
I thought the song selection and performance were great in that they left room for Sturgill to do Sturgill things on the guitar while not taking away from the original composition. I actually would have preferred more volume from Sturgill’s guitar in the mix, but I suppose it was Stapleton’s night and they wanted to respect that.
Two extraordinarily talented singers and musicians playing real instruments in front of a national tv audience… this is a great thing for music.
January 28, 2018 @ 11:15 am
Industry must be losing their minds over this. The guy who wins all the awards invited on stage the guy who has trashed all the awards shows. I love it.
January 28, 2018 @ 11:18 am
I am a huge fan of both artists, and I thought last nights performance was cool and a lot of fun. But I’m not sure I felt it was such a monumental moment. Maybe it was and I’m missing something?
If I was Just watching SNL and never heard of these artists I think I would’ve questioned why they even let Sturgill sing. He was a bit hard to understand (which is always the case for him..,and don’t forget I’m a huge Sturgill fan) but it might have been confusing to a random viewer. I really dug his guitar playing though.
January 28, 2018 @ 11:24 am
I think it will take time to measure the full impact, but I can say that the traffic to the videos and the social media chatter is through the roof, just like it was after Sturgill’s first SNL appearance, and NOT like Stapleton’s first appearance. I think it resonated big time, and specifically with a non country audience. Since we know these guys, sometimes it can be hard to gauge the reception, or even our own fellings. This was a memorable moment. Just how memorable remains to be seen.
January 28, 2018 @ 11:31 am
Good points. I don’t keep track of or pay attention to the video views (or social media chatter, except for my “friends”) like I’m sure you do in these cases. And I’m glad you mentioned it, especially in comparison to the video views and chatter after each of their own personal performances because I think that is a great indicator. Just not something I am tracking. Very interesting.
And even more so, I remember Sturgills SNL performance and don’t really recall any vivid memories of Chris’ first performance. And I will remember last nights performance.
January 28, 2018 @ 11:22 am
Look how forlorn Benji looks in the background.
January 28, 2018 @ 11:25 am
um, Trigger – the only mention of women in the article maybe shouldn’t be about how nice they look? When you’re writing about musical talent?
I like collaborations….I wish Chris would stop winning every award. Award shows give artists boosts. What we need in country is a group of talent coming up and breaking through. Other artists now could use that boost that Chris has already received. Can you imagine a Sunny Sweeney win? (or even nomination) Ashley Mcbride?
January 28, 2018 @ 12:01 pm
”um, Trigger – the only mention of women in the article maybe shouldn’t be about how nice they look? When you’re writing about musical talent? ”
I hear ya , seak …. but Morganne really did catch my eye last night too….She looked like she was appearing on a national TV show for millions . she upped her game in that respect and I appreciated it .
January 28, 2018 @ 12:26 pm
I’m only going to address this once, and do my best to choke my anger back.
First, I went OUT OF MY WAY to mention the women of country music in an article and a performance that had virtually nothing to do with them. I said, and I quote:
“And of course there are better, and more country artists out there, and women who also deserve some attention.”
I didn’t book this performance. I’m a little bit stupefied as to why the issue of representation of women in country is coming up in this context. This was a performance focused primarily on two men. Why the fuck is this somehow a women’s issue? You can’t even give shit to Saturday Night Live for ignoring country’s women when Maren Morris played a few weeks ago, and even Margo Price has played the stage previously. I get it, a bunch of attention is being paid to two men who turned in a marquee performance, and the women feel left out. So are we just supposed to ignore this performance because it wasn’t a moment of gender equality? That is a completely stupid rationale, and frankly smacks of jealousy.
As for the compliment to Morgane Stapleton: I did think she looked good, I noticed it specifically during the performance, and I’m not fucking taking it back. I’m from Texas, and sorry if it’s old school or if Salon.com has declared chivalry = mysogyny, but where I come from, you compliment women. It’s a sign of RESPECT. You treat them with honor and dignity. There was also nothing sexual about it. She’s a mother.
I’m sick of this shit. If I hadn’t mentioned women at all, I wouldn’t be labeled a misogynist.
Turn your venom elsewhere, where it belongs. I’ll put my record of supporting women in country up against ANYONE’S. Just this week I featured two album reviews, and both were for women.
January 28, 2018 @ 12:56 pm
a) You’re right, you’re the one who brought up women. You’re also right that you didn’t need to bring it up because it didn’t have anything to do with the performance. But you’re the one who chose to bring it up
I’m going to try to explain this because it’s something I see a lot:
b) Nobody is saying don’t compliment women or Morgane Stapleton, but compliments don’t have to be about looks. Compliments should be based on the context. If you’re at a bar, or going out on a nice date, yes go ahead and say she looks pretty. But the stage for Morgane Stapleton is a work environment, and no you shouldn’t be complimenting a woman’s look at work, you should be complimenting their work ability – just like you compliment Chris or Sturgill. It just sends the wrong message, like your their for your looks, or that that is the most important thing about you. Especially when it’s the first or only thing written.
And when people in salon, or anywhere else, are saying hey maybe please don’t do this, we don’t actually all like it, the response shouldn’t be, well you’ll like it because I was taught that’s how to do it, and how dare you try to teach me differently. We would all be better off as a society if we listened, and tried to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, rather than constantly being defensive.
c) nobody is saying you’re a misogynist, people are saying, that wasn’t the best way to write that portion of an article. If I say something stupid, it doesn’t mean I am stupid, it means that thing I did was stupid.
I’m sorry that lots of people are calling you out on this, but maybe you should listen to what they’re saying rather than getting yourself in a righteous anger about it.
January 28, 2018 @ 1:15 pm
If everything you say is stupid, then what???
Lord Honky Of Crackersley
January 28, 2018 @ 1:31 pm
I actually hate seeing you explain and defend yourself here, because it lends credence to the kookfest that is modern feminism. You’ve done nothing here that needs to be defended, well, except your ongoing bromance with Simpson.
January 28, 2018 @ 3:55 pm
I think Morgan is a talented artist and seems like a very cool woman who surely has a lot more to offer than just looks.
That said, have we really reached the point that it’s not ok to say a woman performer looks great? She does look great! That doesn’t mean “she looks great and that’s all there is to her.” We don’t have to say “she looks great and is also this, that and the other thing” every time we want to point out that she looks great.
Trigger, as a feminist, and a sometimes sensitive one at that, id like to say I see absolutely nothing wrong at all with what you said!
(Even though, when I read it, I KNEW there’d be shit about it in the comments.)
January 28, 2018 @ 3:55 pm
Morgane. I got autocorrected.
January 28, 2018 @ 4:39 pm
(Even though, when I read it, I KNEW there’d be shit about it in the comments.)
Yep. Me, too.
January 28, 2018 @ 1:13 pm
When her talent is equal to sturgill or Chris then she will be recognized. But that is not the case. Just showing up does not automatically earn you recognition.
January 28, 2018 @ 1:17 pm
And this is why if you’re going to mention a woman in the article, you should talk about her talent and not her looks
FYI Jacob, she’s quite talented.
Cool Lester Smooth
January 29, 2018 @ 8:00 am
Yeah, it seemed like a wasted opportunity to mention that Morgane’s absurdly talented, haha.
January 28, 2018 @ 6:59 pm
I’d argue she’s just as talented as either. Arguably the best female country singer in Nashville right now.
January 28, 2018 @ 2:47 pm
The term “recreationally offended” comes to mind…
January 28, 2018 @ 4:30 pm
Have we really reached a point in time where we can’t say a woman looks beautiful without some beta dragging it down??
January 28, 2018 @ 10:38 pm
Are we to assume that you’re an alpha?
January 29, 2018 @ 12:17 am
No, we’re to assume that I enjoy the compliment of being called beautiful.
January 30, 2018 @ 6:38 pm
February 14, 2018 @ 9:12 pm
Hypersensitivity has become a popular hobby…
January 28, 2018 @ 11:30 am
Sorry Trigger, your article had an impact. I just read it. Very meaningful.
January 28, 2018 @ 11:34 am
Not that Benji’s forlorn look in the background isn’t meaningful. It is. It is extremely meaningful. I want to strangle him it’s so meaningful. Sturgil keeps jumping up and killing things isn’t the best way to describe it, things. But it was probably the best way for everyone not to have to deal with reality.
January 28, 2018 @ 11:32 am
I no longer stay up late enough to watch SNL live (and no longer enjoy its comedy enough to feel it’s worth staying up for) but watching Midnight Train to Memphis online this morning was SUCH a gas! A great vocal performance by Stapleton (and I strongly agree that the vocals on his records generally seem too laid back to generate much excitement) and great guitar fills from Simpson. Truly an inspiring, kick-ass performance.
January 28, 2018 @ 11:35 am
I wrote a much shorter review:
January 28, 2018 @ 11:38 am
I appreciate your review , as I do most of the insights in your articles , Trigger. Your writing has an inarguable consistency which I’m certain is a demanding challenge in many ways ….not the least of which being on your sleep . I’m not sure I’m in full agreement with your comments above .
I’m a big CS fan since way back when . I respect the way he’s about MUSIC in all of its glorious colours and incarnations . I think his hard work and talent has earned him the right to sing and play anything with anyone anyway and any time he damn well pleases . He may be one of the few people who actually DOES NOT GIVE A SHIT what ‘people’ think ( industry , fans , radio , TV , Trigger and SCM ) and not in an obvious way like Sturgil and others. But in an inherently honest way . He just doesn’t have the inclination to care outside of giving his all in a performance. And THAT , in this fake , trendy DISHONEST ‘country’ musical climate we are attempting to endure , is not just an interesting phenomenon but , for some , difficult to process .
It would appear that he doesn’t have ” handlers ‘ calling the shots and its obvious that in terms of monetary success , fan following and attention ,his seemingly lack of game plan or concern for the above has , ironically , attracted the above . WHO WOULDN’T BE JEALOUS to some extent of the success in that ‘approach’ to surviving in ANY business music less the entertainment business . He’s like the Jack Nicholson of the record industry . Just ‘ bring it ‘ i an honest way and the phone will start ringing with people who totally ‘get it ‘ chasing you down .
Last night , I think was simply a display of the above . Chris has money , fame ,a loving wife ,a family a following , talent , and MANY friends in the biz from the suits to the players . All because he’s just doing what HE feels passionately about . It seems that his professional life and his personal life are one and the same . Gotta love that….right ?
Saying all of that , however, Chris’ SNL performace , like Sturgil’s several months back was NOT country music the way , I think ,most of us want to think of and sorely miss as country music . I don’t believe COUNTRY music fans…or even MOST music lovers really want to hear 3 or 4 guitar players jamming on a 12 bar blues unless the guitar players are Eric Clapton , Buddy Guy , SRV, Carlos Santana or the ghost of Jimi . I think we/they want to hear fiddle , a steel guitar , some mandolin , maybe a banjo and some beautiful three part harmonies singing lyrics we can appreciate ,feel, identify with and relate to because WE CAN ACTUALLY HEAR THEM .
For me ,the SNL thing was Chris once again saying “I don’t really care . Here’s what would e fun for ME tonight ” ….whatever .
January 28, 2018 @ 11:50 am
I loved it. Anyone who argues about how “uncountry” it is and then defend Willie and Waylon just doesn’t understand their history in any way, form, or fashion. Willie and Waylon blew the doors off the Nashville way of doing things and they were both viewed as EXTREMELY uncountry – and were blamed for bringing rock, blues, and jazz standards into the country fold – THE HORROR!!. Sturgill, Stapleton, and Isbell – and Cobb – are just walking through the opening of the doors blown off by W&W while everyone else in the mainstream the last few years, at least, has just stayed back in the hallway.
Great performance – both songs.
January 28, 2018 @ 12:40 pm
January 28, 2018 @ 4:34 pm
Me, too. Thrilled to see my kind of music getting this much attention. Suddenly, my taste has relevance again. 😉
January 28, 2018 @ 11:57 am
Great Article! I awoke this morning with a fist pump!
Sturgill playing Tele again like the old Sunday Valley days, Stapleton singing so damn hard his voice cracked. Incredible.
January 28, 2018 @ 12:02 pm
Your first paragraph really resonates with me because I didn’t fall asleep until 4:30 am! Considering I was already in bed when I just happened to see you social media post, that was quite a turn of events.
January 28, 2018 @ 12:10 pm
I was looking forward to Chris anyway, but Sturgill being there too was (to me) a fun surprise. 🙂 I agree about the “Hard Livin'” feeling pretty same-y after “Midnight Train to Memphis” without quite packing the same punch, yet I think even that performance was still head-and-shoulders above most of the recent musical guests.
January 28, 2018 @ 1:05 pm
The only reason people don’t like Chris Stapleton is because they don’t like that he’s successful!
Very next paragraph… his performances have been flat and he seems bored these last two years.
Ummmm…. as someone who rolls his eyes and clicks away every time you write another love letter to him on this site, I can assure you that, speaking only for myself, I’ve never liked the guy because I think he’s boring. The fact that he’s successful just makes me dislike him even more, because now I have to defend the fact that I still think he’s boring even more often.
January 28, 2018 @ 1:28 pm
January 28, 2018 @ 1:55 pm
There are two schools of dislike for Stapleton. One is that he wrote a bunch of pop songs and is a fake guy with a fake beard who is destroying country music. The second is the “eh, just don’t get it crowd.” Both have their merits actually, but neither should be a reason to not appreciate that it is he that’s selling all the records as opposed to Sam Hunt or Luke Bryan.
Though I’ve been characterized as looking beyond Stapleton’s faults, I couldn’t disagree more. I was pretty rough on him in my “From A Room: Vol.2” review for not shaking it up, and basically recycling most of the material, and for being boring. Chris Stapleton needed this performance, and he needed Sturgill to help him.
January 28, 2018 @ 2:29 pm
Boring & incoherent.
January 28, 2018 @ 8:35 pm
Agree trigg. He has a ton of talent vocally in the r&b realm and I don’t fault the guy for his writing career. I just have never found his solo work inspired or something that I’ve ever wanted to listen to repeatedly. His success has been great for the industry, vs. some bro country crap being in his place. That is a good thing.
January 30, 2018 @ 5:13 pm
I’m in the ‘eh don’t get it’ crowd. Glad to hear I’m not alone.
February 18, 2018 @ 10:42 am
Who and what are you..? Your obvious lack of discernment, and inability to distinctly define this music as country/rockabilly has been disclosed in your comments. Take your “pop” and go away to a far corner of the universe, plug in your earbuds, and be quiet for once. You annoy, just becsuse you can.
January 28, 2018 @ 1:08 pm
I have not been very enthusiastic about either of these guys lately, but I can easily admit that was a badass performance. Kinda reinvigorated my interest in both of them. I see what they are trying to do and I can’t say I hate it. They work well together and a collaboration could likely produce some of the best country music in decades. I am gonna be a little more open from this point on, see where it goes.
January 28, 2018 @ 2:08 pm
Radio, radio, wherefore art thou radio?
Here’s the best part for me: Radio guys think they know everything that is going to happen, what should or shouldn’t happen, what can and can’t happen. I wish everyone knew how smug the industry is. This is something they didn’t give permission to happen and they’re losing their minds over it. Just like the week before Chris blew the awards up. They were like “oh it’s cute he’s nominated. Tee hee hee. Luke had better say hi to me.”
You’re done radio. Stuff like this is what we want and where it’s at. Y’all can take Sam hunt and the gang and do your thing but STOP CALLING YOURSELVES ‘COUNTRY’ radio ya bunch a farts.
January 28, 2018 @ 2:56 pm
If you won’t sleep with the radio people that were tee heeing about Luke saying hi to him, then they won’t play you on radio. Luke and Sam have an open lifestyle, lowered standards. They believe women are men and men are women, they shit where they eat and will do anything. But Chris and Sturgil have standards.
January 28, 2018 @ 2:29 pm
Stapleton and Sturgil were the highlights of last night’s otherwise lackluster SNL. I stayed up to see them, and was not disappointed. The musical performances (when I stay up for SNL) are when I usually head for the bathroom and think “well, maybe the next skit will be funny”.
January 28, 2018 @ 2:38 pm
Chris s performance on SNL was rock to me. Southern Rock. Maybe Blues Rock. Like Lynyrd Skynyrd. Not country. Not that I care. Not a fan and really what do I know. Just my opinion.
January 28, 2018 @ 2:40 pm
I love them both, so I’m kind of biased, but I thought this was just amazing. Sturgill always brings
It to the next level and Chris was clearly feeding off it. And the rollout was brilliant. What a treat. I usually tape SNL and watch it later but I really wanted to see Chris and then right before the performance I saw that Sturgill might be joining them. It really felt very old school in the best way.
January 28, 2018 @ 2:47 pm
I think Morgane looked great! As usual. Yes her voice CAN and does on occasion harmonize well with her male counterpart…..LOL, but, when her voice isn’t a focus she still looks great!
This is IMNSHO the absolute best rendition of this I’ve ever heard!
January 28, 2018 @ 2:52 pm
THIS is what should be representing Country music on SNL!
January 28, 2018 @ 2:58 pm
Way too over analyzed, it’s just music, try to enjoy it if it’s good and not worry about the horrible state of the industry and their contrived money grab . We know they have it down to a formula where the male model sings to the 40ish cougars, the same song over and over, that is going to be wrung dry. Just ignore the people with zero musical taste and enjoy what you like, and one day the luke’s and the aldeans will be a distant fart in the wind, but there is really good music will still be out there. It’s all about money and if that means the majority of people have bad taste, and buy what they are told to it will always drive you nuts so try to let it go.
January 28, 2018 @ 3:04 pm
It’s just that there was a time when the goodstuff was on the radio. The bands weren’t thought to be having gay sex with radio decision makers using secret society communiqué.
January 28, 2018 @ 3:00 pm
January 28, 2018 @ 3:17 pm
Great performance by a couple modern day outlaws. Good songs, great execution. Sure it was very rock n roll, whatever. Just enjoy the music .
Clearly the haters and critics of both of these guys are never gonna change their opinions. The same could be said for anything.
And respectfully, speaking as a fan of both artists and music in general ..no one’s forcing you to listen.
January 28, 2018 @ 6:50 pm
I think the fact that we’ve gotten to see Stapleton and Sturgill not once but twice on a evening network NY-based show like SNL is a small miracle. Add to the fact that Margo Price was on there as well and I’d say we’re very fortunate. I enjoyed seeing the two of them together last night and the support Chris is showing Sturgill after Sturgill received his Grammy lasy year off air and was ignored by the CMAs. I also applaud Chris for having Nikki Lane open his big Vegas show coming up. Chris is using his commercial popularity to feature other deserving artists who normally don’t get time in the spotlight.
January 30, 2018 @ 5:26 pm
I think the fact that a SNL audience has been fortunate enough to hear them shows us they aren’t being totally deprived.
January 28, 2018 @ 9:04 pm
I’m not a Stapleton or Simpson hater, but anyone who thought those were great, high-energy performances has definitely never been to any bar on any Saturday night in any town to see any band…
January 28, 2018 @ 10:54 pm
EXACTLY Sam …EXACTLY. It was no more than a bar jam and they happen in most bars pretty regularly …..more often than not , I’d argue , with better songs and way better guitar playing .
If Sturgil is considered by some folks ,to be a great player , I’d suggest those folks need to get out to their local jam more regularly .
January 29, 2018 @ 9:16 am
If you play, then you know that it would be a rare local player that would choose that tone, phrasing and note choice for the solo in Hard Livin’. Not saying it couldn’t happen, but it would be a rare thing. It’s the easiest thing in the world to sit in with a bar band and smoke some scales for the drinkers, to wind yourself up in that environment. But it’s something else altogether to have your own language and be able to communicate to people who don’t know you. No one in that audience was drunk, or there to see a band, or to get rowdy on a Saturday night. That was a nerve wracking world-wide televised, live performance to a crowd there to see comedy. Those two playing together in a bar would be on a different level entirely.
January 29, 2018 @ 6:26 am
Sure, buddy. Whatever you say.
January 29, 2018 @ 7:04 am
Thx for that rebuke Sam and Albert! Clearly, I need to go out and see some good ol bar jammin!
For those that care, I do get out frequently and in particular am a guitar nut. So yeah, I get your point, there are better six string gunslingers out there in force. And yes I know the difference. I’m a fan of everything from Les Paul, Joe Maphis, Travis, Atkins, Marty Stuart, Albert Lee, to Robert Johnson, Buddy Guy, SRV, Joe Satriani, Deke Dickerson, Slash, and all points in between. As for those two, they are competent guitarists, both lead their respective bands and do quite well imo.
My enthusiasm about this performance you guys felt was so egregious is clearly opinion.
Midnight Train to memphis in my book is a great song. What’s not to like? Trains, Guns, Prison, chain gangs…it’s all there. And it’s catchy! Steeldrivers version is the definitive one, this version Chris rocks it out, it’s fun. Hard Living isnt sophisticated, it’s a loving little tribute to Waylon. Telecaster with a flanger, the Waylon beat, licks similar to him and lyrics about Honky Tonkin and the lifestyle. That’s it, nothing cerebral, just fun.
I could pick apart their performance , sure, Sturgill’s vocal needed work, the mic may have been partly to blame, would have been nice to see them stretch out a bit more, but SNL likes short performances.Maybe they should have done a weepy number, slow, acoustic with pedal steel and fiddle and 3 part harmony. Oh well, they didnt.
Nonetheless, it was a first to have both of them onstage singing and playing together, doing fun songs.
Personally, it’s getting annoying that every time Trig writes an article on either of these two, the same folks come out and start with the vitriol. Thanks for sharing , we get it. At the end of the day it’s all opinion. Just know that quite a few of us disagree strongly with you.That comment isn’t directed at Albert btw, more at the folks who routinely bash these two.
January 30, 2018 @ 7:55 am
No thank you.
January 29, 2018 @ 5:59 am
I certainly went from 6 o clock to watching those two preform together….
January 29, 2018 @ 6:01 am
January 29, 2018 @ 6:30 am
” And of course there are better, and more country artists out there…” – No there are not.
January 29, 2018 @ 7:34 am
Well, we got a collaboration–just not the one I had hoped for.
Chris/Sturgill–the next time either of you get on SNL, PLEASE give Tyler Childers a call. If it’s busy, try Cody Jinks.
January 29, 2018 @ 8:59 am
That’s the way that you flip the double bird to radio country. Two legit country boys playing the SHIT out of some country blues on a national stage. Watch the drummer and bassist smiling. They know they’re watching the backside of something special. Damn.
January 29, 2018 @ 9:09 am
Trigger I’m sure you are already writing the article, but someone mentioned on Twitter that Chris, Sturgill, and Cody Jinks make up 22% of the top 35 country albums on iTunes right now. I went to look and Sailor’s Guide is sitting at number 4 (discounted to 5.99) and the previous two albums are both in the top 25. The only albums above Sailor’s Guide are all 3 Stapleton albums. SNL bump?
January 29, 2018 @ 11:52 am
January 29, 2018 @ 9:13 am
Stapleton just announced a 36 date tour with Marty Stuart and Brent Cobb. Starts in June.
January 29, 2018 @ 9:58 am
I think this is appropriate. SNL is impersonating a comedy show, and these two are impersonating Country Music performers.
January 29, 2018 @ 10:37 am
you give way too much credit to SNL. this show hasn’t been relevant in years. SNL needs Stapleton a hell of a lot more than Stapleton needs SNL. as for Sturgill, well nobody needs him.
January 29, 2018 @ 11:51 am
I agree the SNL stage has lost a lot of its luster, but I still think it can be a very important medium if the artists takes advantage of it. When Margo Price played it, and when Stapleton played it the first time, they didn’t. The two times Sturgill has appeared on it, he has. The first time it was verified not just in reaction, but a certifiable sales boost post the performance. We’ll see if this is also the case after this latest performance.
Funk Soul Bubby
January 30, 2018 @ 6:46 am
Stale argument. The current cast has helped introduce a resurgence. It doesn’t always appear in ratings but rather viral views. SNL right now is more prominent than it has been in years.
January 29, 2018 @ 10:43 am
That was good music.
Stapleton with an edge is so much better than bland, subdued Stapleton.
Sturgill brings his own style, and I think it meshed seamlessly with what Chris was doing, and maybe drove it that extra little bit.
Seemed like the perfect selection to blow the roof off that crowd.
January 29, 2018 @ 11:22 am
How many said out loud a version of what I said out loud after CS was introduced: “Holy shit, that’s Sturgill Simpson!”
January 29, 2018 @ 12:10 pm
All these ignorant people on here who believe that what they do is not country wear me out. If they aren’t country then what in the hell do you consider country? If you say Hank Williams, then you better look at who his influences were. Country music and the blues have been intertwined as long as they’ve been called country and the blues.
January 29, 2018 @ 12:23 pm
Wonder if Sturgill will surprise us with more of country style on the next album..
For all the times he says he is moving away from it, he produces Tyler Childers and then comes out and does this.
Also, if the Ben Haggard thing is on the horizon isn’t he supposed to be producing that?
January 29, 2018 @ 1:28 pm
Only rumors, but Sturgill did say he was looking to produce a big project in 2018 during his CMA stream. I wouldn’t be surprised if he produced a couple in 2018. And yes, the irony is thick when folks scream, “Sturgill ain’t country! Give me Tyler Childers!” Just like when they say, “Stapleton ain’t country, he wrote pop country songs, give me Jamey Johnson!”
January 29, 2018 @ 3:31 pm
Man there are some freaking losers here posting. Need that crackersly idiot to tell me how neither one of these clowns are as good as Vern Gosdin. Good grief. These guys are literally carrying the genre.
January 29, 2018 @ 6:11 pm
CINO. Call it something else.
January 29, 2018 @ 6:35 pm
i hear ya. And, yes, it appears vern gosdin ain’t walking through that door anytime soon. but as much as i love this site, it isn’t country music that needs to be saved. it’s music in general. and these 2 assholes are in the army.
Funk Soul Bubby
January 30, 2018 @ 7:03 am
Let me give you the take of a Kentuckian:
This was a big deal for Appalachia. These guys literally grew up two counties apart, however many hollers that is, from Johnson County to Breathitt. They’ve been on different paths through life but they both claim Kentucky and Kentucky claims them.
For Stapleton’s part, he stays true to his roots by coming home and playing the Mountain Arts Center. He has been present for Big Sandy Idol and interacted with many of the kids competing. He’s a huge role model down there. In an area losing its niche industry (coal mining) he’s doing all he can to support the arts. This is a laudable endeavor.
Sturgill, and if you know his old man’s past you get it, has done his part by serving with KET to produce television spots about opioid addiction and avenues to find help. KET airs these all across the state. But particularly in Appalachia, if you have no satellite, no cable, you can throw an antenna mast up on the side of the mountain and run some coax down and voilà, you can tune into KET. So he’s giving back in his own way.
Historically speaking, Appalchia has given the world its music for centuries. They gave us the banjo. Dom Flemons travels the country (sometimes world) telling the story of the roots of the banjo in Appalachia. Roscoe Holcomb, Doc Watson, Loretta Lynn, Keith Whitley, Ricky Skaggs… Appalachia gave us all of them.
I’m not here to preach some type of J.D. Vance nonesuch because though I haven’t read his book I can smell bullshit from a mile away, but this thing right here lends itself to regional pride in an area that is so desperate for it, and for that reason every Kentuckian you meet will celebrate it. It was fantastic.
January 30, 2018 @ 6:46 pm
February 1, 2018 @ 7:34 am
I like both these guys quite a bit, but I’m a little burnt out on them at this point. Most people these days equate “true country” with Stapleton/Sturgill. Oh, you must love Chris Stapleton! He is talented, yes, but as far as real country goes and who should be its true savior, my money goes to Turnpike Troubadours. Just my two cents.
February 19, 2018 @ 11:08 am
This is all *such* and old argument. I’m old enough to remember people saying a lot of the same things about Waylon and Willie, et al, A bunch of people thought Waylon was saving country music, and a bunch though he was ruining it. There are important differences, of course, and I’m not ready to put Stapleton or Simpson on that level, but the argument is fundamentally the same. There’s nothing new under the sun.