Quotable Country – 06/22/14 Edition


Click the bullet after each quote to visit the source.

A lot of the greats are exceptional storytellers, as well as being awesome singers and musicians. That’s something that’s always stayed with me: ‘How do I convey what I’m feeling with words and sounds? How do I tell a story that’ll affect you?’ There’s a real power to an album of songs that casts a spell on you in that way. A great album isn’t background music.
— Brandy Clark, on her way to picking 10 Essential Country Albums for MusicRadar.com. The list leads with Patty Loveless’ 1994 album When Fallen Angels Fly.

The main reason to go was that you never knew who you were going to see. It was such a scene. The exciting thing at that time was the ‘Barndance.’ They’d have the house band and then guest musicians who’d come up and play three or four songs. That’s how I first played there. I remember meeting Mary Chapin Carpenter when she started out. Dwight Yoakam would perform there, and Dave Alvin. I miss there not being a place like that now. It was great to have somewhere to go to meet people of like mind. It was a supportive group of musicians and friends.
— Lucinda Williams, in Los Angeles Magazine’s oral history of the storied Palomino club.

Just because there’s not a label to promote it doesn’t mean music shouldn’t be heard. If it’s a great song, it’s a great song — period.
— Clay Hunnicutt, executive VP and general manager of national programming platforms at Clear Channel, on the continuing success of Craig Campbell’s (now label-less) “Keep Them Kisses Coming.” Would that they would also apply this philosophy to songs that don’t start out with enough label muscle to get them to #13.

Sometimes, frankly, the music’s just not right. I do remember how many kids wanted to come up to the station to meet Jennette McCurdy, for instance, but don’t remember the song that was released at all.
— WGH-FM (97.3 the Eagle) program director Mark McKay, quoted in a Billboard Country Update article on “Why Country Radio Often Shows TV Stars The Door.”

One of the problems is writers tend to follow the trend. And that’s what’s happening right now with this so-called bro-country, party-country stuff. All the writers are jumping on that bandwagon, and I’m trying to encourage the writers, “OK I know that’s what’s going on right now, but we have to get ahead of that. We need to figure out what’s gonna set the trend, not follow the trend.” When I do get that stuff and I take it in to the record companies or play it for the producers or for an artist, the comment I get from them is, “We’ve already kind of got that. We need something different from that.” So again, trying to get the writers to understand, to come up with something different and unique and fresh is just an ongoing battle.
— In the same Billboard Country Update, song plugger Sherrill Blackman says it’s not always the record companies/producers/artists riding a trend and the songwriters reluctantly meeting a demand, wishing it’d come back around to something else. Sometimes it’s the other way around.

Unbridled, ridiculous art. I heard the song and I couldn’t believe somebody would write about a woman with cancer. It has the F word and it’s used like you think, not as a cuss word. It’s just bizarre and really cool. It’s not at all modern commercial country. It’s interesting to hear what somebody does when they have no interest in playing by the rules.
— Brad Paisley on Jason Isbell’s “Elephant,” his favorite recent country song.

I’m one to just introduce myself and say, ‘Just so you know, I’m awkward and I have no idea what I’m saying right now, and I will not be offended if you tell me you’re not remotely interested.’ That’s actually been my pickup line.
— Hunter Hayes is a smooth operator.

I’m starving to death. Can I have a bite of this hot dog?
— Frankie Ballard ate part of a fan’s hot dog while performing. If Gary LeVox had done this, Farce the Music would be having a field day right now.

Here’s the question though. Urban is an intelligent man, a genuine music fan and musician who, when you speak with him or hear him talk, doesn’t fake it. So how can he consistently sing the cavalcade of cliches which infest every corner of his lyrics and rob every single song of whatever genuine feeling it’s meant to be faking?
— Keith Urban got a mixed concert review in Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald.

I think I’m definitely not playing the music I was playing 18 years ago and 18 years ago I wasn’t playing the type of music I grew up listening to. I think it always evolves and I try not to be on the side of the fence that’s bitching about that because it does always move. I always try to make sure I’m pushing myself, not necessarily toward what the format is doing, but just making sure I’m doing something different on every record, so it sounds fresh.
— Gary Allan.

Oh, of course. It’s like typecasting. For example, Jaleel White. He’s been typecast for so many years for being Steve Urkel and he has to constantly prove that he is a talented actor and can be something other than that one role. It’s the same thing. … [Some] people want to say that I’m trying to be an Uncle Tom, but it’s not like that. I’m just trying to do what I love and keep up with the times. I’d rather be a leader than a follower any day.
— Charley Pride’s brother Stephen, also a country singer, dares to address the race question a little more directly than his brother usually does.

People play music here in LA, and they’re good, but they come to the conclusion that there aren’t as many places to play and people aren’t as into country music here, so they go to Texas hoping to make a better living. This whole business of not being able to make money playing country music in California is alarming. It seems like the kind of problem that we could have an effect on. Really, it’s as much of a marketing problem as anything.
— Grant Langston to Pasadena Weekly, explaining the impetus behind California Roots Union, a coalition aiming “to build community as well as audience and media awareness of quality music being made in our midst — and, not incidentally, a business model that allows artists to be compensated fairly.”

But people love to hate, and it’s just unfortunate but that’s the way it is. People like to judge, they like to condemn, they won’t accept anything they don’t understand — that’s just too bad. We have to work at those things anyway, but most people are not willing to. A lot of people are just blind and they’re not seeing through the spiritual eye, and we need to look that way and then we would be more forgiving, more loving and more accepting. [...] In the country field, we’re brought up in spiritual homes, we’re taught to “judge not lest you be judged,” and it’s always been a mystery to me how people jump all over things just to criticize, condemn and judge other people when that is so un-Christian — and they claim to be good Christians! We’re supposed to love one another. We’re supposed to accept and love one another. Whether we do or not, that’s a different story. But that’s what we’re supposed to do.
— Dolly Parton.

It’s kind of like if the Bee Gees were to put a single out today in country music.
— Thomas Rhett, describing (seriously) his next single.


  1. says

    Great list from Brandy Clark. they wouldn’t all make my personal list, but I respect all of her picks and am glad that she wasn’t afraid to include two Garth Brooks albums. I love that he brought her back to country music; it’ll make me continue to feel justified in beatin the drum that he was not the ruination of country music.:) That Patsy Cline GH collection is the same one that I grew up with too. At the time, I didn’t really even know what genres were, but I remember loving the cassette and it was one of the tapes that was on regular rotation in my parents’ house.

  2. CraigR. says

    Brad Paisley could never write as great a song as Jason Isbell’s. Paisley is a pleaser not a revealer. He is not singing for the truth of the matter. And now I have done what Dolly said I shouldn’t.

    • says

      Confession: I just cannot get into Jason Isbell. I bought his album based on all of the praise heaped upon it, but his voice, his songs and even the production hasn’t grabbed me at all so far. I wouldn’t be surprised if I suddenly get him someday though; that tends to happen to me with some artists.

      • says


        I love the Jason Isbell album, so it’s a pretty safe bet that it’ll eventually click for you, Leeann. Since we are musical siblings and all…

        It says a lot that Paisley finds that kind of raw honesty in song so “bizarre.”

          • CraigR. says

            Leeann it took me awhile to get into his stuff as well. But once it happened I was hooked. For one thing I was too busy when I first downloaded his cd. Once I calmed down and listened then I knew he was well worth the time.

        • Acca Dacca says

          He meant bizarre as in abnormal, as in different from everything else that’s coming out at the moment in the country music world. Despite the fact that Isbell is a bit more Americana than pure country, I think Paisley was just struck by the rawness of it, as many were.


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