Category Archives: Say What?

Say What? – Michelle Branch

michelle-branchMichelle Branch on her upcoming album, from last week’s issue of Billboard:

It’s more singer/songwriter than, I would say, country, but I think the term ‘country’ is all relative now.  There’s really no room for singer/songwriters anymore at radio, so I think this is a natural step.

The album will be marketed as country by Warner Bros. Nashville and features a duet with Dwight Yoakam.



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Say What? – Whitney Pastorek (Entertainment Weekly)

Between the live blog and Blake’s excellent post-mortem, there isn’t much left to be said about Wednesday’s CMA Awards.   But Whitney Pastorek from Entertainment Weekly made some points in her CMA Wrap-up that are worthy of discussion, particularly her two different takes on country music’s leading females.

On Carrie Underwood:

Yes, it was cheating to bring out the wife of a deceased soldier to introduce “Just a Dream” and get the waterworks going before she even sang a note. But this was a true showstopper, the emotional equivalent of Sugarland doing “Stay” last year, and official notice that we can now stop looking down on Ms. Underwood because of how she got here. The girl is learning how to use her voice for something other than blowing the doors off the joint every time she steps to the bedazzled mic — and then she went ahead and blew the doors off anyway. I didn’t breathe during this. (Bonus points for the classy way she alluded to Idol during her Best Female Vocalist acceptance speech, the cute shout-out to her mom, and admirably keeping up with Paisley during her hosting duties all night.)

On Taylor Swift:

I will go easy on Taylor Swift because if I went hard on the little dead-eyed darling and her ridiculous ballroom dancing fairy tale fiasco (your move, Twilight), I’d probably never get my rage back under control. So she can’t sing, has exactly zero stage presence, and has now used the same My-Costume-Change-Will-Blow-Your-Mind gag on two straight awards shows. That’s fine. She’s very pretty and sells a lot of records, and makes pre-teen girls happy. Carry on, my wayward waif.



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Say What? – Rosanne Cash and John Rich

Rosanne Cash has issued a statement regarding recent use of her father’s name for political purposes:

It is appalling to me that people still want to invoke my father’s name, five years after his death, to ascribe beliefs, ideals, values and loyalties to him that cannot possibly be determined, and to try to further their own agendas by doing so. I knew my father pretty well, at least better than some of those who entitle themselves to his legacy and his supposed ideals, and even I would not presume to say publicly what I ‘know’ he thought or felt. This is especially dangerous in the case of political affiliation. It is unfair and presumptuous to use him to bolster any platform. I would ask that my father not be co-opted in this election for either side, since he is clearly not here to defend or state his own allegiance.

Her dignified response might be in regards to this statement by John Rich while performing at a John McCain rally:

Somebody’s got to walk the line in the country. They’ve got to walk it unapologetically.  And I’m sure Johnny Cash would have been a John McCain supporter if he was still around.

I think that Rosanne’s response strikes the perfect tone, since it doesn’t name names and appeals to both sides of the political aisle to refrain from speaking on her father’s behalf.   It’s dehumanizing to use him as a prop, a cheap attempt to give your point of view more credibility.

It reminds me of the old saying: “You can safely assume a man has recreated God in his own image when it turns out God hates all the same people he does.”   Cash the father and Cash the daughter are both worthy of emulating.  Rich should be trying to learn from them rather than putting his own words in Johnny Cash’s mouth.


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Say What? – Carrie Underwood talks Gender

It seems pretty unbelievable that I missed this the first time around, given how this site has been so focused on women in country music these past four months.   But  Carrie Underwood had some interesting things to say about women in the country music world after the ACM awards last month.

First, she discussed the scarcity of female nominees for Entertainer of the Year.   The CMA hasn’t nominated a female act since 2001 (Dixie Chicks) and the ACM since 2003 (also the Dixie Chicks.)  In fact, the only other women to be nominated at either show in the 90’s and 00’s are Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Reba McEntire and Kathy Mattea.   Here’s what Underwood had to say about that:

“I think there have been several women over the past decade that should have been nominated at some point. It’s disappointing that they haven’t been, because I know — and I’m speaking for all of us — how hard women have to work. Not to take anything away from the guys, but we have to do a lot more than they have to do. … It’s unfortunate that a lot more women haven’t gotten a lot more credit.”

The upside, according to Underwood?   Greater camaraderie among female artists, as she demonstrates with her gracious hat tip to Miranda Lambert:

Miranda is a wonderful artist.  It goes back to the women thing. It seems like there’s only a certain number of [award] slots, and it’s like everybody is vying for two or three slots. It’s kind of weird. None of us are competitive with each other anyway. We get together and we hang out. Miranda is one of those people who deserves a lot more credit than she’s gotten. Her album is great.

It will be interesting to see if the CMA’s nominate Carrie Underwood this year for Entertainer of the Year.  It’s getting increasingly difficult for anyone to argue with a straight face that she’s not one of the top five acts in the genre, by any measurable standard: record sales, airplay, concert gross, critical acclaim.    Heck, if the CMA really wants to shake things up, a nomination for Sugarland would be pretty cool as well.    But if Underwood isn’t in the lineup, the CMA will pretty much prove her right: women just have to work a hell of a lot harder to get the credit they deserve.


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Say What? – Taylor Swift On Her Senior Year

We all know that Taylor Swift has been home schooled while she has been working hard on her country music career. Unfortunately, it seems that she has not been taking her studies too seriously. Apparently, she worked so hard during her junior year that she only had to fulfill two class requirements during her senior year in order to graduate this upcoming June. She told GAC:

“I chose public speaking and musical performance…So I kind of coasted my senior year, as seniors usually do. Musical performance: I was on tour with Rascal Flatts and Brad Paisley, so that occurred every night — me singing in front of people happened a lot this year. And public speaking: Every single time I did a radio interview, every single time I got on stage and said, ‘How we doin’, Houston?’ — you know, that’s public speaking. So, senior year’s been pretty good.”

As an educator, I can’t help but feel a bit uneasy about Swift’s dismissive comments regarding her high school education. Moreover, since Swift is really only a kid, it’s even more disturbing that her parents failed to insist that their daughter’s education be more of a priority.


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Kenny Chesney's Not a Fan of ACM's Fan-Voted Entertainer Award

2008 ACM Entertainer of

the Year Kenny Chesney has gone on record to protest this year’s change that made the category fan-voted:

“The entertainer of the year trophy is supposed to represent heart and passion and an amazing amount of sacrifice, commitment and focus,” he said. “That’s the way Garth won it four times, that’s the way I won it, that’s the way (George) Strait won it, Reba (McEntire), Alabama all those years. That’s what it’s supposed to represent.”

He said his complaint is directed at the industry, not the fans — and that the method amounted to “complete disrespect” of the artists, saying the academy turned the award “into a sweepstakes to see who can push people’s buttons the hardest on the Internet.”

I think he makes a good point. Thoughts?


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Say What? – John Rich, Part III

Via The 9513, I learned that John Rich has some problems with American Idol:

“The reason their ratings are going into the toilet right now is because the American public cannot stand when it comes to reality,” Rich said. “You can tell when somebody’s comment was scripted. You can tell when they told an artist, ‘Wear this, and sing that, and do that.’ That’s not the way it’s going to work on this show,” he said of “Nashville Star.”

Rich was on a panel promoting the NBC show during the network’s summer programming event for the press. He is a judge and mentor on the upcoming sixth season of the show, which has moved from USA Network to NBC this year.

“We have to respect the fans’ ears and eyes and give them something that’s for real,” he added. “Don’t try to con them. And I think that’s why ‘American Idol,’ in my opinion, is just dive-bombing. I can’t stand watching it. I wouldn’t want to be on that show now if you gave me a $100 bill.”

American Idol has produced legitimate country stars in Carrie Underwood, Kellie Pickler and Bucky Covington, along with a respectable showing by Josh Gracin. Certainly a stronger cabal than Nashville Star can claim, a show that hasn’t produced a star since Season 1 gave us Miranda Lambert and the long gone Buddy Jewell.

But I find it especially ludicrous for Rich to claim the high ground on reality talent competitions, after overseeing the train wreck that was Gone Country. Rich has a problem with artists being told “Wear this, do this and sing that?” After he made artists shovel manure and cook for his grandma so they could understand what it means to be country? It may have been the highest-rated show in CMT history, but it was because of the spectacle, not the music. Or did winner Julio Iglesias, Jr. score a big radio hit when I wasn’t looking?

And the train wreck is sure to be bigger and better this summer, when Season 2 of Gone Country launches in August. I’m sure he can show Jermaine Jackson and Sebastian Bach how to be serious country artists. There must be some horrible country stereotype he hasn’t exploited yet. Maybe he’ll have them make out with their cousins?


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Say What? – Taylor Swift

Asked how she feels about her newfound stardom, and the difficulties that come along with it, Taylor Swift told Billboard :

Balancing all this is not hard. I mean what do I have to complain about? I have the best time in the world. I’m so lucky. When I go out in public and I go to a mall, yeah it’s a lot different than it was two years ago, but it’s a beautiful kind of different. It’s the kind of different that I’ve wanted my entire life. I’m a strong believer that if you work your entire life for something, and you work so hard and you want this one thing so much, you should never complain once you get it.

Good for her. That used to be the country music norm, but it sounds refreshing when compared to the attitude a massively successful act like Rascal Flatts has because they don’t win awards, when they should be being thankful for all of the success they’ve had. It’s nice to see a young girl who’s on top right now has perspective on how lucky she is.


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Say What? – John Rich, Part Deux

John Rich is apologizing again. It’s been only a month since the last time he scrambled to save part of his fan base. Now, The Tennessean reports that PETA wasn’t pleased by the fox fur he wore on the CMA Awards, and fired off a letter to him stating their displeasure. His response:

“I would like you to please forward my apologies to any of your members that are fans of Big and Rich that took offense to me wearing a fur coat on the CMA awards,” John wrote PETA. “Trust me, it was never my intent to upset anyone. Also, if any of the world class designers that you mentioned in your previous e-mail would like to send me full length faux fur coats, I would be happy to wear them, and when asked by the press or fans, tell them it is a faux fur.

Karl Marx famously observed that history repeats itself – first as tragedy, then as farce. No wonder I can’t stop laughing at this!


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Say What? – John Rich

Reader Roger Newcomb suggested a thread covering recent statements from John Rich of  Big & Rich regarding homosexuality.     The first comment was made on a radio show in Nashville, as Rich was discussing why he supports Fred Thompson for President:

“I think if you legalize [gay marriage], you’ve got to legalize some other things that are pretty unsavory. You can call me a radical, but how can you tell an aunt that she can’t marry her nephew if they are really in love and sharing the bills? How can you tell them they can’t get married, but something else that’s unnatural can happen?”


After receiving some negative feedback over this comment, he issued the following statement:

“My earlier comments on same-sex marriage don’t reflect my full views on the broader issues regarding tolerance and the treatment of gays and lesbians in our society. I apologize for that and wish to state clearly my views. I oppose same-sex marriage because my father and minister brought me up to believe that marriage is an institution for the union of a man and a woman. However, I also believe that intolerance, bigotry and hatred are wrong. People should be judged based on their merits, not on their sexual orientation. We are all children of God and should be valued and respected.”

First, I have to ask how it’s possible that John Rich was brought up with the understanding that marriage is between a man and a woman, when gay marriage wasn’t even on the radar until the past few years.   I was in college by the time people started talking about it, and I’m a lot younger than John Rich.    So I don’t really buy what he’s selling there.

Second, a look back at our country’s history.  Forty years ago, the state of Virginia was actually arguing in front of the Supreme Court that interracial marriage should be a crime.   When they lost, the right of a man and woman to marry regardless of race was finally awarded to all citizens.   That was only forty years ago, friends.   What argument did the trial judge who convicted the couple eight years before that use to justify his decision to sentence them to a year in prison?  This one:

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

I’ll leave the debate over the sincerity of his apology and the merits of his original argument to you, readers.    I’m sure you’ll keep the conversation respectful and thoughtful.    Thanks again to Roger for tipping me off on this one.  I hope he’s right about this being a good place for a discussion of this!


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