The biggest story of the past week is the death of Glenn Frey, whose work with the Eagles has, for better or worse, influenced multiple generations of country artists.
The lower half of our Best Albums of 2015 list includes the welcome return of an eighties lady, a return to country from a legendary Eagle, and no less than five Country Music Hall of Famers.
Country music is well represented in the major categories – numerically, at least – and the overall nominee list proves once again that NARAS voters have the widest, most diverse, and yes, best taste of all industry award voters.
Here are this year’s nominees in the big four and all country and country-related categories. It’s worth noting that because Miranda Lambert won Best Country Album last year for Platinum, nothing from that set was eligible in any of the Country categories.
She was one of those artists that my parents listened to in the car. The CD was always Hits: 1979-1989. My dad loved “My Baby Thinks He’s a Train” and my mom, “Tennessee Flat-Top Box.” They both loved “Seven Year Ache.”
But by the time I was listening to country music independently, with CMT as my primary conduit for new music, Cash had already left country music behind. Given that she was never big on making music videos in the first place, I saw the clip for “The Wheel” a few times, and that was it.
We can thank the shortsighted radio consultant Keith Hill for one thing: drawing attention to the women of country music in a year where so many of them are making outstanding music. As their mainstream counterparts cycle through a series of one-note styles and themes, female country artists are putting out diverse and decidedly more progressive music, even as they draw influence from previous generations. That they do so while supporting each other makes it all the more impressive.