As a ten-year staff writer for Country Weekly and a contributor to the Village Voice, Nashville Scene, Performing Songwriter, The 9513, and other publications, Chris helped set the standard for modern country music commentary, combining clear-eyed observations with his trademark acerbic wit. In a decade of confounding change for the genre’s industry and sound, he was a fearless voice of reason, equally comfortable celebrating country’s evolution and – no other word will do – “facepalming” over its less endearing new habits. His recent work as Senior Editor of M Music & Musicians has only broadened his impact, delivering on his passion for all varieties of good music.
Much like my earlier post on Whitney Houston’s untimely passing, writing about Summer’s death isn’t completely foreign to our topic of country music.
Whereas Dolly Parton wrote a #1 pop hit by Whitney Houston, Donna Summer wrote a #1 country hit for Dolly Parton.
Her only tangential connection to country was a big one. Her cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” is one of the most successful singles in history, spending 14 weeks at #1 and pushing its parent album, The Bodyguard soundtrack, to sales of 44 million worldwide.
Acclaimed Nashville artist Paul Burch, whose recent Still Your Man landed at #13 on our Best Country Albums of 2009 list, is taking an innovative approach to distributing new music this year. The Asides/Besides project he launched earlier this month will hook fans (or hip, curious newbies) up with twenty singles released steadily throughout the year, with varying affordable price packages to accommodate varying levels of Paul Burch appreciation.
There was considerable grumbling among eMusic’s 400,000-ish subscribers last year when the formerly indie-centric music download service enacted a dramatic increase in monthly user subscription fees in exchange for posting a few good chunks of the Sony catalogue. Thankfully, the service endured the backlash long enough to strike up another major-label deal, this time with Warner Music Group (and no additional price hike – so far).