Travis Tritt’s New Verse to “Country Ain’t Country” Criticizes CMT
Written by Teresa Boaz, Carson Chamberlain, and Casey Beathard, “Country Ain’t Country” became the second single from Strong Enough and did decent in the charts, ending up at #26 on Billboard. But Columbia Nashville may have never allowed it to see the light of day if the controversial verse Tritt’s been using lately had been included. “You turn CMT on, and you wonder what for. Country ain’t country no more,” it chides.
For a while now, Tritt has been touring as a one man band, taking the stage with just a stool and a guitar, telling stories and showing off his under-appreciated guitar skills. When he took the stage Saturday night, January 10th in Greensboro, NC at the sold out Carolina Theater, the dig at CMT was well-received by the audience.
What’s interesting about the omitted line is that according to Tritt, it isn’t something new. It was part of the original composition and was cut out for political correctness. That means even in 2002, the line “You turn CMT on, and you wonder what for,” some dozen years before CMT and its parent company Viacom would turn the network into nothing more than yet another reality show channel perpetuating negative stereotypes of the previous demographic it used to serve, the sentiment of the censored line still resonated with the writers. Even more interesting is that Tritt actually performed the song on CMT near its release.
The line that replaced the CMT line in the studio recording is “There’s no turning back, and you just can’t ignore,” but Saving Country Music also dredged up another version of the line used in the late oughts by Tritt before the CMT line where he says, “He turns his radio on, sometimes he wonders what for…” so maybe the CMT line is more recent, and the original line was about radio. Either way, people who thought Tritt was making a deeper statement about the state of country music when the song first came out were apparently right.
Travis Tritt has been flashing a penchant for speaking out about the state of country lately. In June of 2014 he went on a Twitter rant against Brantley Gilbert after he felt the young star disrespected him as an opener. And in January of 2014, he told Peter Cooper of The Tennessean, “I’d say to any of the new people coming out, ‘Find the courage to step out and try it your way.’ Otherwise, what we get is a cookie-cutter mentality that isn’t good for artists who are having to portray themselves as something they aren’t, or that are capable of doing so much more but are being stifled.”
Something tells me we won’t see the revised version of “Country Ain’t Country” on CMT’s Top 20 countdown anytime soon. If you can fight through the poor audio, you can hear the new verse in this video. Otherwise, the original version is below.
January 12, 2015 @ 10:30 am
Out of all the talked about possible rumored albums, Travis and Marty is the one I would like to happen the most.
January 12, 2015 @ 10:39 am
yeah I don’t think this country trend is what tritt had in mind when he said put some drive in the country….
January 12, 2015 @ 11:42 am
My wife and I saw Travis Tritt at the Alabama National Fair back in the early 00’s, and even back then he was singing that line. And the crowd loved it. It was around the time the tide was beginning to turn in the direction we’re in today, and you could already feel a shift was occurring, even not knowing exactly what it was…
January 12, 2015 @ 12:58 pm
I love Travis Tritt! he’s always been one hell of a performer and when I think a great innovative country star I think of him! he always recorded country rock hits/cuts (put some drive in your country, T-R-O-U-B-L-E, Homesick), but he also put out some of the best country music ever! think of It’s a Great Day to Be Alive! it has to be my favourite country song ever. And what about If I lost You, More Than You’ll Ever Know, Circus Leaving Town, I See Me, his whole Restless Kind album. he’s what mainstream country should sound like!
January 12, 2015 @ 1:16 pm
I do miss me some Travis Tritt. Reminds me of when I was a young Marine back in the early 90’s hanging out at the Tarheel Opry House in Jacksonville, NC. I would love a new Travis and Marty album and would buy it in a heartbeat.
TX Music Jim
January 12, 2015 @ 1:34 pm
Great performer saw a gig were shaver opened for him back in the day and Eddy sit in on some lead guitar. Hope to catch an acoustic date soon.
January 12, 2015 @ 8:59 pm
Saw Travis Tritt a couple of years ago, and he still puts on a great show, ripping through his own impressive catalogue, as well as acknowledging folks like Waylon, Johnny Cash, and Skynyrd. He is an accomplished musician, and a talented guitar player. In fact, he played circles around his lead guitarist, who played fairly sloppily throughout the evening and took shortcuts on some songs.
Tritt himself was once derided for being “too rock”, but has availed himself admirably and flown the country music flag high (and proudly) for many years.
I was always sad that years ago, before Waylon passed, they were supposed to tour together. I had the ticket in my hand, and they cancelled the tour. Sad. That would have been a great tour and show.
Keep on playing great music, Travis!
January 13, 2015 @ 7:55 pm
Country Music Watered Down (YouTube) is more direct to the point.
August 23, 2018 @ 4:14 pm
I just heard this in the parking lot of a truck stop in Waco ( possible song title there ) and even, with the buffering ( which absolutely sucks ) It’s still a good song. I see why CMT changed it. It reflects real country as an attitude; a lifestyle. CMT wants to be just like MTV, displaying the urban life. Screw that. Be yourself.