Way back in July 2004, Country Universe went live on its original Blogspot home. This month marks its eighth anniversary. Today, our writers are sharing their thoughts about the site and some of their favorite posts from the past eight years.
As the founder of Country Universe, it is amazing to me that what started as a quite self-indulgent little blog has become a showcase for so many talented writers. I remember being a lone voice in the wilderness. Now, there is such a sprawling and diverse community of country music blogs and websites that I believe Country Universe would have lost any relevance years ago, had it not been expanded by the new perspectives of a rotating writing staff.
I’ve written so many things over the years that I’m proud of, along with a few posts (and several comments) that I’d like to see disappear down the memory hole. But the piece that I’m most proud of these days wasn’t well-received upon publication: Single Review: Brad Paisley, “Online.”
In retrospect, it feels prescient. At the time I wrote it, bullying hadn’t yet emerged as part of the national dialogue, at least not outside of educational circles. Hearing “Online”, I immediately related it to the realities that I saw regularly, but I think that the connection was difficult for readers to make if they weren’t directly involved with education. Today, I think that there would be a greater understanding of my concerns with the record. At least I hope so. Either way, it remains my favorite personal piece of writing from the past eight years.
Among my colleagues’ best work, I must single out Dan Milliken’s “The Jealous Heart”, which showcases his ability to interweave his vast knowledge of music with originality and wit. Ben Foster’s “Pop Goes Country – A Cover Song Report Card”, which critiques many successful and not-so-successful attempts to make a pop song country. From Tara Seetharam, I particularly loved her conversation starter, “Discussion: Music and Lyrics”, which managed to make The Breakfast Club relevant to a discussion about country music. Total win!
Last, but never least, my first and longest partner at Country Universe. I’ve said many times that we didn’t really become Country Universe until Leeann Ward joined the staff. Before then, it was just Kevin’s blog. But her unique perspective, and more important, her ability to be magnanimous with even our harshest critics, set the climate of mutual respect that would ultimately distinguish our site for the better. She brought the same dignity to a discussion regarding a quite undignified personality in her piece, “The Trouble with John Rich.” Most other country commentators eventually voiced the same concerns she outlined way back when.
There have been many great moments from both our former writers and current contributors as well, as you’ll soon discover from our other anniversary posts. Follow the links below to read the rest of our anniversary coverage, and share your favorites in the comments!
Country Universe Turns Eight:
- An Introduction, by Kevin John Coyne
- Leeann’s Favorites, by Leeann Ward
- Dan’s Perspective, by Dan Milliken
- Tara’s Take, by Tara Seetharam
- Ben’s Best, by Ben Foster
- Jonathan’s View, by Jonathan Keefe