It feels like any day now we’ll hear something about a new record coming from Sturgill Simpson. But just in case the country fan in you is hoping it will be a return to Sturgill’s roots, and similar to his earlier records like High Top Mountain and Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, you best steel yourself for something else.
In November of 2018, right before Thanksgiving, Sturgill Simpson appeared on Sarah Silverman’s Hulu exclusive show, I Love You, America. During the 30-minute program, Sturgill Simpson performed a song, and spoke to Silverman about his now infamous busking show outside of the 2017 CMA Awards streamed via Facebook Live. Silverman was one of numerous celebrities who tuned in as the live stream was happening in real time.
“It’s a sales convention,” Sturgill said during the conversation about the CMAs.
“It’s a fucking sales convention!” Sarah Silverman agreed. “Country is about being Outlaw, being badass, telling the truth, being raw!”
Sturgill Simpson went on to say that at this point in his career, he isn’t even interested in getting into a discussion about the country music industry, or the music industry at large. He only wants to focus on his own music.
“Whether it’s the American Music Awards, the Grammy Awards, all these things exist to sustain the music business,” Simpson said. “It has little to do with the artists being recognized. It’s something that I’ve come to realize. I don’t even know how much I have left to contribute to that conversation at this point in my career. It has nothing to do with me, or what I’m doing. They’ve made it very clear they want nothing to do with me. I see it as a blessing now really, because there’s all these other avenues and paths that quote/unquote ‘country’ musicians may be on.”
Sturgill then iterated some insight on his upcoming record.
“We just finished the record last week that I’ve been working on for a year (meaning he finished the record in early November, 2018). It’s definitely not a country record. I can’t question these things. You can’t question these things. You’ve just got to put art on your timeline first, and all the other shit really doesn’t matter I guess is what I’ve come to see and realize.”
“We have to know what genre you’re in to list you on iTunes,” Sarah Silverman said.
“Yeah…” Sturgill responded, before the conversation quickly turned to Sturgill’s song “Oh Sarah,” which first appeared on his Sunday Valley record To The Wind and On To Heaven, and later on his Grammy-winning A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. It was written about Simpson’s wife, but Sarah Silverman had a little fun pretending it was about herself.
If Sturgill Simpson’s upcoming record won’t be country, what can we expect from it? We can likely expect it to be loud, and more rock and roll than anything, similar to the performances Sturgill has been turning in live over the last year or two. When speaking to Joe Rogan in March of 2018, Sturgill hinted that the record could be a double album, but we’ll have to see if that materializes.
Sturgill has also dropped hints that the record after his upcoming one may be a return to his country roots, and may be his last one entirely. We’ll have to wait and see if this materializes as well. One silver lining, and one lesson to learn from Sturgill’s pronouncement is that at least he’s being honest, and letting his fans know he doesn’t consider his record country, unlike many pop stars who call themselves country to exploit the country industry for their pop careers.
Unfortunately the full Sturgill Simpson interview is only available on Hulu. However his performance of “Oh Sarah” is available on YouTube.