Monday Open Thread

Back to work.  Meh.  Good day to focus on the negative.

Entertainment Weekly has a feature up now called 22 Rock Heroes You Just Don’t Get.   Readers submitted the names of rock legends that they simply can’t get into, and don’t understand the appeal of.

I’ve got a few country legends that I feel the same way about, but I’ll limit myself to one and open up the floor to the rest of you.

The Country Legend I Just Don’t Get:

Charley Pride

By every standard imaginable, he’s a legend, but I can’t name another artist of his stature who has made so little music that I find enjoyable.   I dig “Kiss an Angel Good Morning” and “You’re So Good When You’re Bad”, two of his 36 #1 hits.  As for the other 34 and everything else he’s done, it all simply doesn’t do it for me.

I want to like Charley Pride.  He seems genuinely nice and has a great stage presence.   I just don’t like most of his songs, or his style of singing, for that matter.  Perhaps the latter is the cause of the former.

So there’s the country legend that I don’t get.  How about you?


  1. Garth Brooks is an “artist” that I will never be able to appreciate. His so called humbleness (the hat to his chest thing) is so forced that it’s laughable. His voice is mediocre to lackluster. His stage presence is wayyyyyy too staged (pardon the pun), and his attempts at putting real emotion in his songs fall short (to me) everytime. Obviously, he and the Devil have made a pact…needless to say, I think Brooks has enough money to buy his way outta that contract. I just don’t get him…sorry.

  2. Well Rodney in South Carolina, I’ve got just a few things to say to that. First, you are one of the few people who don’t appriciate him, which is a truly sad thing for you. Fourtunately I do, as do the other people who have bought one of the 130 million albums he has sold. Secondly, His stage presence doesn’t feel staged at all. Have you even been to a Garth Brooks concert? I was just at a four-day country music festival and as I walked the campgrouds I heard more Garth blasting over county music fan’s speakers than anyone else. Obviously this “artist” has had an effect on a lot of people.

  3. Conway Twitty. When I was still new to country music I bought a hits collection of his completely on a whim without doing any research or anything, and I was really disappointed. Aside from “Hello Darlin’,” “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man,” and the pop-crossover hit “It’s Only Make Believe,” everything completely bored me. I may have bought a bad hits collection, or maybe I was too young to “get” the more sophisticated songs, or maybe his best songs were largely not hits; I don’t know because I’ve never gone back and tried to figure it out for fear that I’d have to listen through dozens of other boring songs. I’d be happy to have somebody more enlightened about him give me a good place to start, though.

  4. Mike M.: I believe the whole point of this thread is to talk about artists who were/are popular and tell why you can’t seem to enjoy them. Therefore pointing out that Garth Brooks is popular was completley pointless.

    As for me I was never able to get into Kenny Rogers. None, and I mean none, of his songs have I ever enjoyed. I don’t even know whether it’s his voice or just the material he chooses to record, but I don’t like his music. (Yes this includes The Gambler and Islands In The Stream). The even weirder thing is that I like cover versions of some of his songs.

  5. I know I’m probably the only person in the world, but Kenny Chesney has never appealed to me. I’ve tried to get into him, but nothing about him seems real to me….his concerts or music!

  6. Marjie, I’m hoping Chesney won’t become a legend!

    Well, if Kevin is brave enough to admit that he doesn’t get Charley Pride, I’ll go out on a limb and reveal my person. Keith Whitley. I’ve really given him a fair chance. In fact, I’ve come to enjoy his voice. However, his versions of his songs don’t do much for me. I have his tribute album and I think the cover versions of his songs are much better, though none of them really stand out to me either, except for Alison’s “When You Say Nothing At All.” I guess, with the acception of “Brotherly Love” (with Earl Thomas Conley) and “It Ain’t Nothin'”, his music just bores me.

  7. I’m gonna say Dwight Yoakam. Never have I been ever to get into his voice or music after repeated attempts at trying. I think I’m just not into rockabilly at all.

  8. Mike M…I am not understating the popularity of Garth, I’m just questioning why he is as big as he is…that’s all. I fully understand that he has hundreds of thousands of fans who would flogg me within an inch of my life with one of Garth’s belt buckles if they could (including you, I’m sure.) I’ve never been rabid when others dislike the artists I like…to each his/her own. I’m sure that Garth is just DEVASTATED that he doesn’t have me as a fan (note: sarcasm). However, it’s true blue fans like you that have made him the “staged” act he still is today!!! Cheers to MR. Yearwood!!! Hip, hip, HOORAY!!! ANd yes I’ve seen him in concert and came out nothing short of annoyed and deaf….it was like being at the birthday party of a stocky ADHD kid sans Ritalin who was trying to do a bad impression of Chris LeDoux and successfully pulling the bad impression off because he really didn’t know what Chris LeDoux was all about….that’s all!! We shall agree to disagree!!

  9. Tony,

    I used to feel the same way about Dwight. I think I had been listening to country music for about 11 years before I seemed to suddenly “get” what people liked about him so much. Now, I can’t imagine not loving his music.

  10. I have always wondered why Alabama got so huge. The “Eagles” of country music? I dunno.

    Jordan, If there were any reason to not like Kenny it’d be his big assed ego. You should’ve seen the stadium at the CMA Fest as he started singing, people left in DROVES!

  11. Interestingly, I used to love Ronnie Milsap and Alabama. Nowadays, however, their music obviusly hasn’t changed, but I don’t really like to listen to them anymore.

  12. Jim,

    I agree with Lorrie Morgan. I do own a Greatest Hits from her (being the ‘completist’ that I am) but I just don’t like that much that she does.

    Another artist I didn’t get until later on was Brooks & Dunn. Now, though, I like their stuff. Even the old stuff (perhaps because Ronnie Dunn’s such a great singer?)

  13. Hmm Kenny Rogers for me, and Barbra Mandrell she wasnt that country to be singing “Country when country wasnt cool” and not quite a legend but I think Martina McBride has had some severly weak material

  14. Great topic!
    I definitely agree with the whole Kenny Rogers thing. His voice is just the same in every song…. and the fact that he’s just boring. The trophy wives and botched eye-job sure don’t help.

    I have to say that I agree with the Garth thoughts, too.
    His first few cds were good but then it was as if he started believing his own press. The whole “rock influence turned country” stuff got as old as hearing about how much he idolizes KISS and James Taylor.
    Garth’s stuff just really hasn’t stood the test of time, IMHO.

    I also have to laugh at the Charlie Pride confession! I totally agree and thought the same thing as I heard him on The Opry this weekend. Bless his heart.

  15. Personally, I don’t like pretty much any of the legends of country music. I only got into country music about five years ago, and was introduced to the newer stuff, which is the stuff I have come to love. But I think the four noteworthy ones for me are George Strait, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, and Johnny Cash.

    George Strait, for me, can never seem to carry an interesting melody. I guess it doesn’t help that I don’t like his style of music, but I guess that’s why I don’t like any of the four names I just mentioned. All of his songs just seem so dull to me. I don’t care how great your lyrics are; if you don’t have an interesting melody or a pile of emotion to deliver the lyrics, you’re not gonna have my interest. Give It Away wasn’t a bad song though.

    Garth Brooks is more interesting than George Strait, so I guess I just really don’t like his style of music. I don’t know what it is, I just don’t like him. However, More Than A Memory was a good song, and I don’t mind The Thunder Rolls.

    I don’t hate Kenny Chesney. I like him more than the last two. He has released some interesting stuff; I liked Summertime and You Save Me. It’s just that he is often very boring. Kenny is capable of good, interesting work, but for me, he just doesn’t do it very often. His latest album is especially boring to me, and Shiftwork was a train wreck. There is nothing more boring than those vocals, which are coincidentally also sung by George Strait.

    Johnny Cash just doesn’t do it for me. No liveliness in his vocals.

    As for live performances, I haven’t seen any of these people live. But if Kenny Chesney and Garth Brooks are four time winners of the Entertainer of the Year Award (that’s right, isn’t it?), then why don’t they bother to show that in their award show performances? Garth Brooks wasn’t too bad in his recent medley of hits, but there was room for improvement, and Kenny Chesney is downright boring so far that I’ve seen. His recent performances of Never Wanted Nothing More and Shiftwork involved him mimicking a statue that plays guitar. George Strait is very similar as far as I have seen. Despite that a lot of people seemed to have hated Taylor Swift’s recent award show performances, I would argue that she has been the most interesting of anyone. She completely blew away George Strait and Kenny Chesney’s performances.

    P.S. In regards to Alan Jackson’s recent award show performance of Good Time, would it kill him to actually look like he’s having a good time?

  16. If Brooks & Dunn are considered legends, then I definitely don’t get them. Neon Moon and their cover of My Maria may be two of my least favorite country songs ever.

    I feel alone in this (and he’s not a legend, but he has been big for awhile) but Keith Urban. To me, he’s like the Dave Matthews Band or Coldplay – two HUGE groups whose popularity I simply don’t get. Yes, Keith is a good looking guy and he has that aw shucks thing down so well it seems really genuine (it’s the Aussie in him I’m sure), but his music isn’t very interesting and it doesn’t ever really seem to have much of a melody. There have been a couple of songs on the radio that I originally thought must be a joke, they’re so lame (and of course they go to #1). I always wonder if he would be as popular if he wasn’t so pretty (and these days, he wouldn’t be so big if he wasn’t married to Nicole Kidman). I’ll give him his guitar skills and his personality in concert – he’s definitely a charmer – but as for his songs or voice? No thanks.

    As for a lot of the true legends, I feel like I can’t judge. The quality of the recordings back then I’m sure doesn’t do them justice. It would have been great to see a number of them live in their heyday.

  17. As I was driving back from Tampa tonight, I was listening to a Reader Digest collection of 60s -70s recordings from Charley Pride . As I review this forum , I see that Kevin lists Pride as one legend that he just doesn’t get. Too bad – his loss

    As for the legend I don’t get (I am assuming no one would describe Rascal Flatts or Faith Hill as legendary) , that figure would be Gram Parsons, the doomed avatar of country-rock.

    Parsons was a mediocre vocalist, a mediocre musician, never had any hit records and other than “discovering” Emmylou Harris is otherwise not noteworthy. Notoriously unstable his most noteworthy accomplishment was to die of a drug overdose. He was in several bands with the unheralded Chris Hillman, the true musical genius of the Flying Burrito Brothers. I have most of his recordings, but his vocals are so second-rate that I really don’t listen to them all that much. If not for a few of his original compositions, there really wouldn’t be any reason to listen to him at all

  18. At my first job in radio, Charley Pride was one of the artists who kept me from detesting country music altogether. When I got into country radio full time, he remained one of my top five favorites. Have you listened to ROLL ON MISSISSIPPI?

    While I agree that Garth Brooks voice is not spectacular, he still knows how to sell a song. He’s a an interpreter. You can tell he believes it and he brings you in with him.

    Trying to think of a country legend I don’t get. Only coming up with ones I don’t like, but I can see why the legends were big, at least in their time

  19. Willie Nelson, the singer. The songwriter is a legend and should be, so enough about him.

    The singer cant really carry a tune all that wall, and seems to sing “out of time” with the song, almost like his words are delivered faster or slower than they should be. on some of his music he sounds like he’s slurring a little. The only times Willie really has sounded good is on the “Good hearted Woman” duet wilth Waylon..and OK to be fair, I do like “On The Road Again.” But other than that, i I think he is the most overrated country legend.

  20. I like Garth Brooks’ singing quite a lot most of the time, but there are definitely times when he forgoes “selling the song” and succumbs to utter histrionics, most notably, in my opinion, on “The Change,” which is utterly unlistenable to me solely because of his performance.

  21. Dan, that’s exactly how I feel about Garth. I also can’t stand to listen to “The Change.” I, however, like his voice; it’s one of my favorite things about his music. I don’t know why, since it pretty much seems to be agreed upon that he doesn’t have a great voice.

    I thought of another person that I just don’t get.

    Porter Wagoner. Because he’s so beloved, I’ve tried to find something to like about him, but I cannot. I don’t like his voice, his songs or personality. Even when I watched tributes to him after his death, I couldn’t get into his music nor the man.

    I’m sorry to pick on people who are no longer with us, but I dislike Porter much more than Keith Whitley, whom I mentioned in an earlier comment.

  22. I agree that Garth has a good voice. I think that’s why so many other male singers have tried to imitate it in away now. I do agree that some of his stuff is boring. But he puts a lot of energy into his concerts and did something other country artists wouldn’t do, actually run around and have a good time on stage!

    And I have always liked Brooks & Dunn, until now haha. I loved Neon Moon, everything up until about 2005, I think they lost what made them good in the first place. But I’ll be quite now as this isn’t a Garth Brooks Brooks & Dunn Fight Club, lol. Notice they both have Brooks in their name? Never realized that…. ok now I’m really going to shut-up.

    I never got this Carrie Underwood thing as much, not that I consider her a legend. I know she’s the new thing, but I only like half of her songs from her 2 albums combined. There are some great ones and stuff but she seems to just stick with what she knows will sell. I want to see her 3rd album really stand-out, because I truly want to like her.

    I also never really got into Keith Urban, he seems like a nice guy and all but I only liked some of his songs and that was most of his earlier work.

    One person I might suggest is Tim McGraw? I liked many of his songs, but it just seems like him along with many other artists are just trying to fit with all these new artists(which is not a good thing.) He doesn’t seem to try and stand out anymore, which slightly pisses me off.

  23. I agree with Tony about Dwight Yoakam. I don’t see what people love about his voice at all. It’s just annoying to me. I haven’t listened to a lot of his songs, but every one I have, his voice has just sounded fake and annoying to me.

  24. Wait, somebody doesn’t get Strait or Cash? That’s like saying “I don’t really get this air stuff everybody’s breathing…” Wow.

    The legend I don’t really get is Emmylou Harris. That’s heresy in the internet circles I hang out in but there it is. I mean, I love her harmony vocals in countless songs by other artists and I think she’s a classy, lovely, talented woman… her songs just bore me to tears.

  25. Corey,

    I think when you’re dealing with legends, they tend to be so unique and identifiable that it’s understandable that some people won’t understand the appeal. So I can definitely believe that somebody could not be into Cash or Strait, just like you’re not into Emmylou Harris. I don’t think any of it is heresy, since it’s a matter of taste.

    I kicked this off by discussing Charley Pride, an artist that I have tremendous respect for and who has clearly made his mark with his illustrious career. I just don’t happen to like his singing voice. It’s just a matter of personal taste in the end. I think you can respect and value an artist’s contributions without enjoying them.

  26. And thus it shall always be – the reason that singers usually become legends is that there is something about them that appeals to “most” people.

    I can understand why Kevin wouldn’t “get” Charley Pride because Kevin is young and Pride doesn’t have a voice that fits in with the current concept of a “country”, whereas Charley Pride fit the archetype for a 40s/50s/60s country voice to a “T” except he was far better than most, and listeners of Pride’s heyday felt the same as 35 consecutive singles made it to #1 on either the Cashbox and/or Billboard Country charts. A singer who sounded like Vince Gill or Keith Urban probably wouldn’t have been successful during Pride’s heyday

    Similarly, I can understand someone not getting George Strait who has made a number of records that fit the “pleasant but bland” description. I can understand someone not getting Emmylou Harris (I must admit that the person who found “no liveliness” in Johnny Cash’s vocals has me perplexed – either he hasn’t listened to much Cash or is aurally challenged)

    It’s simply a matter of taste – no one will appeal to everyone

    And yes, I have every Charley Pride album except the Christmas and Gospel albums

  27. Paul–

    I understand your points. However, I’m a bit younger than Kevin and I really like Pride’s voice and much of his music. Likewise, I have a friend who is a year younger than me who enjoys his music as well.

    There isn’t always a defineable reason for why an artist can appeal to some and not to others.

    As for George Strait, I can understand. While I consider myself a moderate fan of his, I wouldn’t even call myself a big fan, because many of his songs bore me.

    I guess I can’t imagine not loving Johnny Cash though, but I know I’m completely biased when it comes to his music because I’m such a huge fan.

  28. I don’t think any serious person could think, after reading this site and the 100 Greatest Women Feature, that I don’t have an appreciation for the older sounds of country music and that I don’t “get” them because of my age. Pretty silly.

  29. I just cannot understand someone mentioning George Strait, I’m sorry, that’s just pushing it too far. He perfectly blends both ages of country music, so even if you don’t like one of either the newer or the older styles of country much, you have to like him since he incorporates the essence of each. Another legend who I feel is overrated, albeit not bad by any means, is Patsy Cline.

  30. I think Kevin said it about right. It just comes down to personal taste, and whether or not you like someone’s singing voice. And that would be why I don’t much like Johnny Cash and George Strait.

    Perhaps my wording of “no liveliness in his voice” for Johnny Cash was a little off. I guess his deep voice doesn’t do it for me, but it is obviously more than that because I do like songs by other people with deep vices. Anyway, I guess it just comes down to that whole personal taste thing.

  31. I think what some are saying about Garth is that his voice can be very expressive and he can sell the song, but that said, he has a tendency to oversing sometimes (see The Change) Personally, I can’t take him when he’s being THAT melodramatic.

  32. Peter….. I totally agree with your Garth comments.
    I’ve always liked Garth but when he oversings and turns on the melodramatic, I can’t take it. I can’t help but think how much better some of his songs would be if he would have saved the theatrics for the live show. I suppose that’s why I liked his first 2-3 cds best.

    Reba does the same thing with getting all melodramatic and oversinging to the point of being ridiculous.

    Just sing… and save the theatrics for Liza.

  33. I really can’t think of any legends in country music that I’ve never gotten. Folks like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, while they may not have great voices per se, have bodies of work that most of today’s country artists wish they could only have half of.

    If I could name one artist of today who a lot of people have gone crazy for that I don’t get, it would have to be Toby Keith. His “patriotic” post 9/11 schtick (“American Soldier”, etc.) got very old in a hurry for me, though maybe not for others. And as much as he mentions Merle Haggard (especially the “Okie”/Fighting’ Side” era), Toby hasn’t performed anything yet that matches “Branded Man” or “Today I Started Loving You Again.”

  34. Thanks to Leeann for linking to this thread. I know it asks for one but I can’t resist….

    Travis Tritt.

    Glen Campbell
    Marty Stuart
    Keith Whitley

    Future “legends” that I can’t figure out even now:
    Keith Urban
    Trace Adkins
    Alan Jackson

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