March 16, 2005
Okay, I just don’t get this. CMT is giving the Johnny Cash Visionary Award to Loretta Lynn this year. Originally called the Video Visionary Award, it’s supposed to honor artists who have expanded the music video art form. The three previous winners have actually done so. Reba McEntire (2004) has the best music video catalog of any country artist; Dixie Chicks (2002) had already made landmark videos like “Goodbye Earl”, “Cowboy Take Me Away”, “Without You” and “Wide Open Spaces” when they were awarded it; and Johnny Cash (2003), now the award’s namesake, starred in the masterpiece “Hurt”, along with other visionary-for-their-time clips like “Highwayman” and “Delia’s Gone.”
Now, where does Loretta Lynn fit in to all of this? I realize she’s the legend du jour, but it’s for the audio, people (an interesting mirror to the Cash situation two years back, where the video was much better than the album.) The two Van Lear Rose clips – “Miss Being Mrs.” and “Portland, Oregon” – were basically Loretta in a prom dress hanging out with Jack White. Her prior video catalog is practically non-existent. Why on earth should she be given a video legend award? It would be like MTV giving their first Video Vanguard award to Elvis Presley instead of Madonna.
There are many important artists who have had a lasting impact on the country music video format and deserve this honor. Just to list a few – Hank Williams, Jr.; Shania Twain; Garth Brooks; K. T. Oslin; Dwight Yoakam; Sawyer Brown; Martina McBride. There are so few opportunities to acknowledge artistic merit; if CMT wants to pay homage to the Grammys, they should start honoring the best music films, instead of just copying what the Grammys have deemed the best audio.