Say What?

Say What? Classic – Tim McGraw

May 20, 2010 // 23 Comments

Here’s what Tim McGraw told New Country Magazine after his third album, All I Want, was released to surprising critical acclaim in 1995:

If 10 albums from now, it’s not better than this one, I shouldn’t be making them.

That’s a lofty goal, isn’t it? I think that just about every McGraw album released since All I Want has been of higher quality, but I don’t know that I’d argue that each one was better than the last. But is that ever true about any artist?

The only one I can think of off the top of my head is Kathy Mattea. I think that her recent run of Roses, Joy For Christmas Day, Right Out of Nowhere, and Coal have shown significant growth from one set to next.

Can you think of any artist with a decently long career that has consistently improved from album to album?

Say What? – Terri Clark

February 22, 2010 // 4 Comments

In an interview with , Terri Clark reflects on her hit-making days:

Country radio was good to me for many years, but it also pigeonholed me. After my first album, I was expected to fill the slot on their playlist for ‘fun, up-tempo female.’ That provided me with a space to fill on that playlist, and a string of turntable hits, but in my entire career I had only two ballads that broke the Top 10.

There have been quite a few songs, songs that never got released as singles, that I felt were stronger than a lot of the singles that came out.

Lamenting the restraints that their former labels placed on their artistic freedom a common refrain of country artists once they go indie. But in Clark’s case, I see her point. Her first wave of hits included two ballads, but most of the biggest hits were uptempo rockers like “You’re Easy On the Eyes” and “Better Things To Do.” Her second wave was only three hits deep, a trio of upbeat numbers that all reached the top two. Radio essentially walked away when she took a turn for the serious.

Say What? – Carrie Underwood

October 17, 2009 // 12 Comments

Carrie Underwood 09As reported by Billboard, Carrie Underwood’s response to being offered a free copy of Miranda Lambert’s new album, Revolution:

No. I’m going to buy it.

Gotta love that!

Billboard’s been previewing some new tracks from Underwood’s upcoming third album, Play On. I’ve found “Temporary Home” and “Mama’s Song” to be far more promising previews of the new set than lead single “Cowboy Casanova.”

Check out the entire interview with Underwood here.

Say What? – Bob Lefsetz

April 30, 2009 // 17 Comments

Anyone who reads Bob Lefsetz’ “The Lefsetz Letter” knows that Lefsetz is a fairly new country music fan, but a passionate one all the same. I frequently disagree with his current assessment of country music, particularly country radio (although recently he has clued in to its frequent vapidness and monotony), but he’s a fantastic voice out there championing country music.

In a recent letter, he made some interesting statements about his desired role for the future of country music (i.e. the classic rock of the future). After approvingly citing the recent Newsweek article which bemoaned the current state of country music, Lefsetz stated:

Country used to have an edge. My buddy Pete Anderson would love to bring it back. But I’m thinking we’ve just got to move the needle a little bit, and suddenly we’ve got the rock business we used to have, the one that triumphed in the seventies.

Say What? – Little Big Town

March 24, 2009 // 23 Comments

In a review of the recent Little Big Town concert in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Star-Tribune reporter Jon Bream commented on the group’s lack of a lead singer. He noted that although the group has the potential to be big, it misses consistent star power. According to Bream: For a group to blossom in Nashville, it needs a focal point. Randy Owen dominated Alabama, Gary LeVox is the main man with Rascal Flatts and Natalie Maines is the mouthpiece of the Dixie Chicks. But who is the mayor of Little Big Town? After discussing how no singer stepped forward during the concert in the Twin Cities, Bream continued: Multiple lead singers may work for the Eagles or Fleetwood Mac, two groups that have obviously influenced Little Big Town. But those groups are the exceptions. Be a democracy offstage, but choose one dominant star for the stage. For the record, I happen to Read More

Say What? – Kristian Bush

March 15, 2009 // 47 Comments

I ran across the following quote attributed to Kristian Bush (of Sugarland) in an article in the U.K. newspaper The Independent, frankly titled: “Far from the old country music: Nashville is making yet another attempt to conquer the UK charts with artists who have crossed over so far they are virtually mainstream.” Bush can barely hide his impatience at’s arrogance. “The songs that will survive 40 years from now will have to do, not with their excellence at how they interpreted post-modern Appalachia, but how they interpreted the human condition. And in the end, as much as I’m a huge Wilco fan, no one’s going to remember them. They’re going to remember Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” – because that story is true. There’ll be another girl sitting at a window who’s kissed someone and that song speaks to her. And really, [Wilco and ex-Uncle Tupelo singer-songwriter] Jeff Tweedy Read More

Say What? – Merle Haggard

March 5, 2009 // 9 Comments

Today’s Say What? comes courtesy of country music legend Merle Haggard, who recalled a salty conversation with a label executive in the 1980s. The memory was prompted by Emmylou Harris performing “Kern River”, a Haggard classic that is also a highlight of her most recent album, All I Intended to Be. Since the comment is definitely nsfw, it’s embedded after the jump:

"Say What?" Classic – Harlan Howard

February 24, 2009 // 4 Comments

Harlan Howard is in country music history. When interviewed about his #1 hit for the Judds (“Why Not Me”), he made an interesting statement about the need for repeating certain titles throughout a song: “Why Not Me” wasn’t a great title. To get a really good record, you’ve gotta write a hell of a song when you’re dealing with a title that average. The only thing I know to do with songs like “Why Not Me” and “Busted” – which I never thought was a good title – is to put the title in there often so that people remember it. The weaker the title, the more you gotta hear it.” “Why Not Me” earned the Judds the Country Duo/Group Grammy and the CMA award for Single of the Year. “Busted” was hit for both Johnny Cash with the Carter Family in the sixties and John Conlee in the eighties. Read More

Kenny Chesney’s Denials Lead to Discomfort

February 11, 2009 // 42 Comments

In the upcoming March issue of Playboy Magazine, Kenny Chesney forcefully denies old rumors that he’s gay. He, however, forgoes tact and tries to assure us that he’s straight by proving that he’s a womanizer instead. In response to suggestions that he’s gay, Chesney quips, “I think people need to live their lives the way they want to, but I’m pretty confident in the fact that I love girls (laughs). I’ve got a long line of girls who could testify that I am not gay.” As if that wasn’t already too much information, when asked if he had reached 100 women yet, he flagrantly boasts that he probably reached 100 women in 2001, “Man, I was over 100 several years ago. There were years when I had a better summer than A-Rod, buddy. You know? I got on the boards quite often…My first five years on the road were intense because I Read More

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