Discussion

Sweet Spot

April 2, 2009 // 22 Comments

In the comment section of my recent Brad Paisley review of “Then”, Country Universe’s Kevin Coyne revealed that the last verse of “Waitin’ on A Woman” hit his sweet spot. He said: “I fell for “Waitin’ on a Woman” because of the last verse, where the man is in heaven waiting for her on the other side. That’s my sweet spot. Any song that hits that is golden with me, even if I’d normally dismiss the rest of the song as trite.” I completely understood what he meant because there’s a certain theme that hits my sweet spot just about every time as well. For reasons that I cannot explain, since I’m not a pacivist as a rule, I love songs that appeal to the greater good in humankind–songs that promote love and peace. Songs like “Put A Little Love in Your Heart”, “Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream”, Read More

Recommend A Track: Shot to The Heart

March 28, 2009 // 15 Comments

Last Thursday, Bill and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. It’s been a wonderful run so far. Of all the positive things that I can say, my favorite thing about our marriage is that we are best friends. In fact, before we ever started dating, we were best friends. So, it’s nice that the same is still true today and it would be devistating if it should ever change. I’m certainly no marriage expert, but I think that being friends is central to a successful marriage. Not only does it make the days more bearable, it helps to insure that we will give to each other at least as much as we would to our friends. With that said, I am fully aware that being friends in a marriage isn’t always as easy as we would all hope it would be. Like any friendship, it’s something that must be worked Read More

Albums You Hate By Artists You Love

March 27, 2009 // 37 Comments

Albums you hate by artists you love. Okay, so those are some strong words. But, as recently evidenced by the comments given in response to Kevin’s review of Martina McBride’s new album, Shine, even our favorite artists put out occasional stinkers.  Those so-called stinkers may be universally acknowledged as such or just a reflection of our personal tastes, but, regardless of how they got there, they are most notable for the dust they acquire on our back shelves or their unapologetic dumping from our iPods. Here at Country Universe, we try to be honest about the material, even if the artist involved is one of our favorites.  It is definitely more painful to write a bad review about an artist you love, but unearned praise is the worst kind. Therefore, I have no compunction about stating that despite the praise George Strait’s recent album, Troubadour, has received, it’s no longer Read More

Texas Country

March 26, 2009 // 15 Comments

Stuck in my car stereo over the last couple of weeks has been a CD loaded with tunes from some of my favorite Texas-affiliated artists.  I’m a big fan of the singer-songwriter, old school and raggedy rock styles of country music, and Texas excels at all three. So any time I need a break from the current “Nashville sound,” I like to check in with Texas and see what they’re up to. Invariably, it’s more colorful and interesting. I can’ t call myself an expert on Texas country by any stretch of the imagination and my education is nowhere remotely near complete (hint: feel free to recommend), but I do sense that it’s a style of music, or perhaps a musical sensibility, that is extremely important to maintain.  Texas artists exude a certain spirit of creativity and sense of individuality that is sorely lacking elsewhere in country music.  And in Read More

The Return of Recommend a Track

March 23, 2009 // 20 Comments

It’s been a good long while since I’ve shamelessly plugged a favorite song, and far too long since all of you have made me break the bank to purchase your recommendations. We’ve taken some heat for being a little hard on mainstream country lately, so I’m recommending a track tonight from one of today’s brightest stars: Keith Urban. Now, many of Keith’s best songs have already been radio hits, but he dug deep earlier this decade on his first multi-platinum album Golden Road with the closing track, “You’re Not My God.” In the first verse, he confronts the addiction of money (“a little sure felt good, but a lot was not enough.”) In the second, he confronts his addiction and subsequent triumph over his cocaine addiction (“You almost had me six feet down, but I’m still breathing air.”) It’s an unconventional religious song, to be sure, but he’s rejecting the Read More

Idol Opry Night: Live Blog

March 17, 2009 // 122 Comments

Country Universe continues its annual tradition of live-blogging country night on American Idol. LIVE BLOG 9:55 Kind of boring night overall. I liked Anoop the most. Not too much stood out for me. 9:52 When I reviewed “So Small”, I think that I mentioned it would sound better stripped down. No surprise I liked the first half of this performance more. 9:51 Interesting that only the men took on Carrie this year. Probably a good move on the women’s part, as none of them could go toe to toe with her. 9:46 Ten down, one to go. 9:45 Again, I feel they’re just pushing certain people. 9:43 This is the second time tonight – the first being Adam Lambert – that I feel I’m watching a parody of Idol. 9:41 “Walking After Midnight” is the first song that I actually associate with the Opry that’s been performed tonight. 9:33 I’ll Read More

Hall of Fame, By the Numbers

March 16, 2009 // 11 Comments

My good friend and favorite sports blogger Charles Geier, of The Widening Geier fame, has long used statistics-based reasoning when making the case for the best in sports, whether for the current season or throughout the history of a given sport. He recently launched an in-depth site called Sports Statistics – By the Numbers, which details the crucial importance of statistics, and of course, it got me thinking about country music. Music statistics are difficult to use in the same way, if only because chart success is but one measure of an artist’s impact. However, with country music being such a commercial genre, it’s interesting to see how the most successful chart acts have fared among Country Music Hall of Fame inductees. Looking through Joel Whitburn’s Hot Country Songs 1944-2008 and Hot Country Albums 1964-2007, it’s immediately clear that the charts are important. All of the top ten country singles Read More

Grammy Awards Change Eligibility Period

March 14, 2009 // 2 Comments

The Grammy Awards have made a few changes for 2010’s ceremony. First, the awards show will move to the last week of January, a full week earlier than it has aired in previous years. Second, the eligibility period has changed: Releases must street by August 31 of the previous year to be nominated, a full month earlier than the previous September 30 cut-off. Thankfully, the eligibility period for the 2010 ceremony will begin on October 1, 2008, so there won’t be the embarrassment of work from September 2008 being nominated again. The CMA moved up their eligibility period by a full month in 1995, but allowed June 1994 releases to compete for a second time. The end result was two consecutive nominations for Album of the Year for Alan Jackson’s Who I Am. An interview with NARAS head Neil Portnow is quite illuminating, revealing all of the moving parts of Read More

Country Metaphors

March 12, 2009 // 9 Comments

Country music is famous for its three chords and the truth strategy or at least for the tagline. The straightforward and simple lyrics that cut into our souls are what ultimately draw us to this genre. Country music, however, is also rife with songs that contain metaphors. Many times, the metaphors are easy to comprehend, but there are times when they seem almost out of reach. They are the songs that can be interpreted in different ways, which are often the most fun. Fore me, one such song is Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson’s “Monkey on A Wire.” In my mind, at least, it’s somewhat of a challenge to pinpoint the exact symbolism of the monkey on a wire. In my review of their album, I give it a respectable try, but I’m still not convinced of my interpretation. My guess was: “The unshakably catchy “Monkey On A Wire” explores Read More

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