The Nashville Musical Shite Factory - Cont'd
Kenny Chesney in a swimming pool pretty much sums up the Nashville Musical Shite Factory
A New York Times columnist seems shocked--positively shocked--at the staying power of some of country music's pioneers:
Last month, albums by Johnny Cash and George Jones were in Billboard magazine's Top 20 for country music and Willie Nelson had a Top 10 country single with a duet. None of this would be especially noteworthy — these country icons are hardly strangers to the top of the charts — except that Mr. Cash and Mr. Jones are 71 and Mr. Nelson is 70.Wow. Kind of says something about the techno dance music with added fiddle (or pedal steel, take your pick) tracks flying out of the pieholes of men who stand in swimming pools at the behest of the Nashville Musical Shite Factory these days, doesn't it?
Bruce Hinton weighs in with his opinion:
"Country music has always been adult music sung by adults," said Bruce Hinton, the chairman emeritus of MCA Records Nashville. "Obviously this could never happen on the pop side, and I'm just glad there is still some recognition of these masters, even if it's not as frequent as we would all like."It once was that, Bruce, but since suits with cowboy hats run FM country music these days, you instead tend to get the insipid sort of "country" put out by people like Kenny Chesney or, gawd forbid, Shania Twain.
George Jones offers an explanation to the reporter, who manages to give it fairly short shrift:
"I believe it's simply because Johnny and Willie and myself and [Merle] Haggard have stayed with what I call honest music," Mr. Jones said in a telephone interview. "We've never tried to be much more than what we are. We're just open with our lives and the way we live, and that's what we sing."Imagine that! Real singer-songwriters, penning real songs, about real life, maybe even doing their own arrangements and playing an instrument! Real. Honest. Music. I think someone here in Texas used that as a motto for the thriving Texas alt-country/American music movement (which is 180 degrees from the Nashville bile). My apologies for stealing it, but it works. George Jones doesn't have to stand in a swimming pool, flex his muscles, and sing someone else's songs to a dance track mix. Thank goodness, because that sight would be more than my eyes could handle.
"One reason for the staying power of males is their sheer number of hits over the years," said Mike O'Malley of Albright & O'Malley Country Radio Consultants in Milltown, N.J. "Every year we track the country radio audiences' favorite songs," he said, and two to three times as many songs in the Top 100 are from men as from women.This brings to mind a quote from a real Texas country singer-songwriter, Randy Rogers, about the sorry condition of FM country radio: "Who listens to country radio? 18-24 year old chicks. They shouldn't be selling CDs, they should be selling tampons." Mr. Lindy just admitted as much.
That is something of a paradox, since modern country radio is aimed mainly at women in their mid-30's and the audience is often considered to be 60 percent female, said Scott Lindy, program director of the country music station WPOC-FM in Baltimore. Young stars like Kenny Chesney and the Dixie Chicks attract millions of teenage fans.
Back to George Jones:
But for Mr. Jones and many lovers of traditional country music, mainstream country radio has lost touch with its roots.It's unlistenable. And it's made a whole bunch of Texas and Oklahoma musicians mad. So they're just playing real country music. Mr. Jones ought to come visit sometime.
"I don't listen to it," George Jones said. "A lot of us old-timers don't listen to radio anymore because it just don't mean that much to us. I love the good old heartbreaking songs. It makes me mad when the money people come in here and change country and make it something else and still call it country. Country's a religion to me."
Ms. Parton, whose albums continue to receive critical acclaim and win Grammys, said she, too, paid little attention to radio now. Indeed, young fans seem to be discovering the old-timer's music not on the radio but on the Internet.You mean the internet is a force for good? Someone might use it to discover music instead of just "stealing" from the record labels? Wow. Thanks, Dolly, for your good sense on the matter. It may be self-interested, but that's okay, because you're right.
And here's the infamous Mr. Lindy again:
Mr. Lindy, of the Baltimore station, said there was a simple reason some artists are played on the radio and others are not. "It's about the song," Mr. Lindy said. He added: "Loretta Lynn put out an album a few years back, but it sounded pretty much like what she did in the 1970's. It's great stuff if you're a fan of that sound, but not a highly appealing sound for today's country stations. Willie Nelson is back on the air thanks to an album of duets that have high artist appeal and very high song appeal. The song took them further." (Country singles rankings are based on the number of times played on the radio; country album rankings are based on sales.)Oh please. There are some fine songwriters in Nashville, but you wouldn't know it because they are penning tunes for drooling morons who flex their muscles in swimming pools while wearing cowboy hats, while some arranger puts together the fiddle/pedal steel tracks in what is otherwise a dance mix, and ships the shite out to radio. This is what I mean when I refer to the Nashville Musical Shite Factory. The song is almost an afterthought to the demographic appeal. (Mr. Lindy concedes as much by admitting Willie is on the air not because of his songs so much as singing "duets that have high artist appeal.")
In the Texas/Oklahoma country music scene, on the other hand, that just isn't the case. Real musicians pen real songs and arrange real music and play them in real roadhouses in front of real (sometimes drunken and obnoxiously critical!) fans. You'll hone your sound pretty fast that way. And that's Willie's way. Let's not try to make Willie a part of the Nashville Musical Shite Factory. He's part of the Texas music scene, and we're damn proud of it. Nashville can ask itself how many CMA awards they've bestowed on this living legend next time they try to claim him as one of "theirs." Willie is the antithesis of Nashville, which makes it even better that he's managed to get some airplay on their retarded music stations. Maybe they can learn from a legend.
Actually, it's not complete. This article doesn't do justice to Merle Haggard (whom I hear covered by more contemporary Texas artists than any other country songwriter, including Willie). Gawd bless the legendary Merle Haggard.
Now you'll pardon me, but I'm going to stream some real music from KNBT in New Braunfels.
(06-05-03 Update) Alex has an updated banner for his Shania Twain campaign.
(06-05-03 Update 2) I should add that Nashville is not devoid of guys who do make good music. They just don't have much of a chance unless they manage to get noticed by a label like Sugar Hill. One of those artists is Scott Miller, whose new release comes out June 10. It says something, of course, that he is listed on Lone Star Music (and if I'm not mistaken, he used David Grissom on his last CD). Miller should move to Texas, where he belongs. :)
[Posted at 21:02 CST on 06/04/03] [Link]