Quotable Country – 06/15/14 Edition


Click the bullet after each quote to visit the source.

It’s artists from LITTLE JIMMIE DICKENS and up, who are saying ‘Please! Enough with the Bro-Country,’ Let’s get back to what made NASHVILLE great and what built all those buildings down on MUSIC ROW in the first place, and is really what Country music fans want. We’ve abandoned those fans over the past few years just to play to one demographic — the Bro-Country demographic. And that’s fine, they can have their own deal. They can have their own separate awards ceremony. Call it the ‘BRO-COUNTRY AWARDS’ or the ‘REDNECK PARTY BOY AWARDS.’ You can give away awards for ‘Best Duet With NELLY,’ ‘Best Six-pack,’ Best Tattoo Groupie’ … but don’t let all that take away what so many people sweated blood to create. I think we are primed for a return to that.
— Collin Raye is not dropping his crusade against bro-country… and All Access has some distracting formatting habits that make him appear semi-deranged. I like it.

People don’t realize how we had nothing. And I didn’t know anything about music. Somebody said, ‘You sound like some of those guys on the radio. Why don’t you move to Nashville?’ And I said, ‘OK.’ That’s basically what happened.
— Alan Jackson on how he ended up in the music business.

With the bro-country stuff, it’s more of a hip-hop tempo. They are kinda like rock songs. You throw your 808 [drum machine] underneath it, and some loops and stuff, add the hip-hop EDM influence to it. You replace that live bass with a synth bass. Next thing you know, it just sounds more exciting than a quote unquote band.
— DJ Lenny “Lenny B” Bertoldo, quoted in a Jewly Hight piece on country’s EDM fixation. If there’s one thing music could really do without, it’s that whole pesky human element.

I like to re-create how it is on stage or in the garage when they’re practicing. At the end of the day, everybody is always listening to the voice. [...] All the records I like are the old records. I like the human side. Truth and honesty.
— Producer Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Jamey Johnson, Shooter Jennings) in a fine Wall Street Journal feature. Cute that he thinks he knows something about making good records, but let’s face it: Dude could learn a lot from Lenny B. Maybe an “Elephant” dance mix?

I got a lot of crap for it in the beginning, when people saw the title, ‘I Drive Your Truck.’ I had friends like, ‘Oh, come on, Jessi. Are you writing truck songs now, too?’ Then, of course, when people hear the song, they know it’s so much more than that. But I think we all, as writers, are feeling a little boxed in by the topics.
— “I Drive Your Truck” and “Song About a Girl” co-writer Jessi Alexander to Billboard.

Right now, everyone is saying, “Quit writing these songs about being from the country and riding in pickup trucks,” but that’s what people are out doing. You have younger people enjoying country and the songs that resonate with them are like that. If you are 22 years old, it is pretty much either “Me and my girlfriend broke up” or “I’m out partying to meet a girlfriend so she can break up with me and I’ll be heartbroken.” For some reason, in this format, people don’t flinch coming to it and saying, “Why aren’t you guys writing about this? You should be doing this or that.” No other format is held to that standard. But why is it our gig to check every box of life? Songs about mamas, and all this deep shit, are put out all the time, but they’re just dying on the charts because that’s not where the audience is. All music that covers all kinds of stuff is coming out at all times, and I’m sure there is an excellent polka album coming out right now, but you and I both know how well that is going to sell.
— Craig Wiseman, quoted in Rolling Stone Country’s “14 Simple Rules For Writing a Country Hit.”

I think country music now—on the pop side it’s a whole different thing, but to me a lot of the real country music is real. It’s not for kids. It doesn’t play around. You listen to “One’s on the Way” by Loretta Lynn and that’s real life. That song is about here’s all these people with the glitter and glam, but there’s Peggy Sue in Topeka, Kansas with five kids on her hip. That’s real life and country music is a voice for a lot of people. A lot of people don’t understand desperation because they don’t understand poverty and they don’t understand how you really—we could all be there at any minute. Anything in the world could be taken away from us at any moment. Nothing’s guaranteed. [...] It’s something I feel very strongly about, and something I want to represent in my music, because a lot of people forget about it. A lot of the world has their thumb on [the poor] in a way. I just want to help, even if it’s a small voice I want to be a voice for them.
— Kelsey Waldon on having her music reflect real poor and working-class struggle.

The stigma with country is it’s not cool. That’s wrong. Country is very cool. I look at award shows, I look at how country is represented. Country is represented with an asterisk. We have to perform collaborations. We have to perform a tribute. We can’t perform by ourselves. Country music right now is the most popular American format. The most popular! Look at tickets, you can look at album sales, it is the format.
— Eric Church.

Throughout my career, I’m never through learning. When I hear someone do something I like, I take it apart. I study it. I listen for the vocal mannerisms and phrasings. Merle Haggard is the master of phrasing. It’s not necessarily the words he’s saying. It’s the way he says them. I still study that, and I try my best to think of how I can play off someone like Merle or Buck Owens. How can I be just as effective. I work at that all the time. Every time I get on stage, I’m still working at it.
— Gene Watson on singing.

What’s changed about me is more of my writin’. But I’ve learned my craft more, I’ve learned who Bandit Farley is. I was always Doug Farley, but I found Bandit Farley ya know what I mean? [...] I’ve developed a lot of fans. I can be walkin’ around my hometown or surrounding towns and people will recognize me. But fame won’t change me. Bandit Farley will never change for fame.
— Country rapper Bandit Farley to a website called Gutta World. He also names “Meryl Hager” as an influence. Unfortunately, none of this is Fake News. (h/t Farce the Music)

I’ll be honest. When I first moved to town, I would have hated [bro-country]. Well, hate’s a strong word; I would have strongly disliked it. Because I had the [mindset] then that even if it ruins my career, I’m going to fight for the tradition of country music no matter what. [...] People think if we go and mix other types of stuff it’s ruining it or it’s going to end something, but it all goes in phases, it all changes. I really had to evolve a lot in my mind as a music fan to understand certain things, and if you sit there and try to [sound] like Johnny Cash, and Waylon and Willie, you’re not going to go anywhere, because that’s what made them so great. They can’t be replicated.
— Jerrod Niemann on selling his soul having a change of heart.

I’m not calling myself the gateway drug to country music, but there’s gotta be some artists out there that are reaching out and bringing people in. The last thing you wanna do is upset the people that already are supporting country music. You wanna do something for the real country fans, clearly, because they’re the ones that allowed all of us to be doing this. But also someone [might] hear Donkey and be like, ‘That’s crazy. I don’t like country music, but I like this song.’
— Jerrod Niemann again. Different interview.

We live in shades of gray, and Nashville’s part of that. There aren’t two worlds here; we all cross paths. People, when asked to characterize me, consider me ‘heavy’ and ‘dark.’ Yet who’s the lightest, happiest dude in the business world? That would be Jimmy Buffett—and he’s recorded my song.
— Mary Gauthier to Barry Mazor.

Their stuff was all about the Southwest, and that’s something that even Kix (Brooks) and I as Brooks & Dunn gravitated to. It’s kind of in my DNA. We would go to cowboy clubs in Abilene, Texas, when I was going to school, and that was just about all they’d play. (The Eagles would) be hardcore country by today’s standards. They still are, to me.
— Ronnie Dunn on the Eagles.

She wears her heart on her sleeve. And she writes songs and record songs that mean something to her. The last thing that she thinks about when she makes a record is what could get played on the radio. I can honestly say it never ever ever ever crosses her mind. And I think that’s why we look forward to her albums so much, because it’s always a reinvention of herself and always a breath of fresh air from what guys like me are doing.
— Blake Shelton (with the honesty) on Miranda Lambert.

The 10 Biggest Douchebags in Country Music
— The Village Voice has an odd list of country douchebags, because one good way to get attention is to name a seemingly random assortment of popular acts as douchebags.

Country isn’t like country anymore. Look at Taylor Swift, Dierks Bentley, all these guys. Look at the cover of Rolling Stone right now. It’s the country issue. People still have this [idea] they’ve got hay in their mouth, and they’re down at a country hayride. It’s a big business. It’s Faith Hill. It’s Tim McGraw. It’s America.
— Country star (he sang with Shania that one time) Mark McGrath.

Music evolves. You tend to be most critical of what scares you. The debate about too much pop in country has been going on well before I [started producing]. We just took it to new levels.
— Dann Huff to Rolling Stone Country.


  1. the pistolero says

    The last thing you wanna do is upset the people that already are supporting country music.

    I think it’s a bit late to be worrying about that.

    And of course people eod don’t like country music would like “Donkey,” because frankly, it’s about the furthest thing from country.

    Also, Eric Church shows once again why it’s so difficult, if not impossible, to take him seriously, albeit for a different reason than normal.

  2. Jack says

    Craig Wiseman is pretty cynical.

    And he seems to have a very low opinion of young adults.

    Really, that’s all 22 year olds care about? I had deeper thoughts when I was in elementary school.

  3. Jack says

    “Call it the ‘BRO-COUNTRY AWARDS’ or the ‘REDNECK PARTY BOY AWARDS.’ You can give away awards for ‘Best Duet With NELLY,’ ‘Best Six-pack,’ Best Tattoo Groupie’ …”

    Ha ha! This Collin Raye guy is actually kinda funny.

  4. says

    Say what you want about Eric Church, but he’s actually one of the smarter guys out there for one comment he made during his Rolling Stone interview. He praised Brandy Clark with a huge endorsement saying she should be the face of our genre right now. He was a pretty harsh critic of bro-country, too, and our current lack of substance. I have to give him credit for that even though he’s pretty much a lunatic otherwise.

    Collin Raye is 100% correct with everything he’s been saying. Sure his music was highly commercial and primed for radio in the 90s, but he always knew a good song when he heard it. I’ve always been a big fan. Now that George Jones has passed, we needed someone to come out hard for the state of our genre and he’s stepped up to the plate. Good for him.

    I didn’t know that about Alan Jackson. Judging by his actions and music, you’d never have known that about him.

    The Eagles would be hardcore country today? I agree. And their worst song would be ten million times better than 99% of what’s currently on country radio.

    I agree with Blake, but that isn’t true 100% of the time. “Something Bad” has EVERYTHING to do with radio.

    When I was reading JN’s quote about traditional country I would’ve sworn it was something coming from Brad Paisley. I have no doubt JN has respect and love for traditional country, but I just didn’t expect that coming from him.

  5. C Mitch says

    I must be living life wrong. Because at 22 it was “Balls. How am I going to pass this class to graduate college?”

    • Sabra says

      I think a large part of my life when I was 22 was “Oh, dear God I hope I don’t drop the baby. I hope I don’t somehow do something wrong and screw her up for life. Oh, shit, I need to find another place to live and move while my husband’s deployed. I have to pay the bills.” And so on. I don’t think the people a decade or more younger than I are any less capable than I was at their age, and when it comes to the rural south I’d bet a good number of them have the same sort of responsibilities I had back then–they’re working and raising a family and trying to make ends meet. Much more “One’s on the Way” and much less “Donkey.”

      • Jack says

        “Merry Go Round” is a slightly more sardonic take on the subject.

        I don’t care what life choices people make, I just want good songs. Nonstop consequence-free partying doesn’t represent the true essence of anyone’s life.


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