The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

21 October 2003

And where's the steel guitar?

Dam Strait at That Ain't Country dot Com skewers a Billboard decision to require country radio stations to play at least 60 percent new stuff (the previous standard was 33 percent) to get included in the magazine's survey:

While this might seem like a good move for, say, pop music or rock, or hip-hop, we believe that real Country & Western music should be treated like classic Rock, in that a good Country song is always a good country song. And the crap on today's Country music radio will always be crap.

Not since the 1970s, when Fogelberg-esque rock-pop garbage drove real Country fans away in droves has the C&W music industry suffered from such a surfeit of forgettable and sometimes outrageously inept music.

And now Billboard wants to change the way it reports C&W hits so that the current trend of crap like "I Melt" gets more weight than, say, "He Stopped Loving Her Today." Worse, "I Melt" will get played twice as much as before.

I'm assuming that KKNG, the only country station for which I save a preset, has long since been delisted by Billboard. Then again, they don't play anything Fogelberg-esque. (Now there's a term I wish I'd invented.)

Posted at 9:08 PM to Tongue and Groove

TrackBack: 11:41 AM, 22 October 2003
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And country music radio continues to suck. ...[read more]

this is a trend that must be stopped. essentially, new country music is awful. while i go by the 90% of anything is crap rule, here we go way way beyond that. perhaps 1 out of a 100 new country songs is worth 3 minutes of my time.

and i should know. i actually heard a decent tune a couple of weeks ago, but they didn't announce the artist, and i can't remember enough of the words in the right order to google it. so here i am driving to and from work switching between 4 different country stations for over 2 hours a day for two weeks to find it again. (it's not such a sacrifice since it is pledge week on NPR) but the tunes are awful.

here is the complete list of tunes that made me listen to the end. the one i can't remember and no one plays, lee ann rimes "shut up, big deal, ...", dolly parton (i think) New Orleans working girl song, garth brooks "I got friends in low places", and finally, some chick singing about "the streets of heaven" (which is a real tear jerker if i was choking up).

that's it. out of maybe 5000 attempts to listen to a country song, i made it to the end of 4. and i think only that last one is anything like new. and i play the dixie chicks Lil' Jack Slade often as a stopwatch to see if i can beat the traffic from my house to a certain spot on the road; so, i contend that while i am ignorant, i am not a country music misanthrope. *stamps foot*

the tunes on heavy radio rotation are just really bad nowadays.

Posted by: rammer at 10:04 PM on 21 October 2003

Do you want the real truth about the industry ?
I'll lay out as much as I know from my experience as it may help someone who is missing quality Classic Country as much as I am . I used to be in the industry as a drummer then as a singer and rhythm guitar player and while I am far from great I picked up a few things along the way of my travels around the industry I have played from Nashville to Alberta , Manitoba , Saskatchewan , Manitoba , Ontario ,British Columbia and Kentucky etc. and here is the what I call the curse: as far back as the 70's Country was starting to look for a change that would guarantee it success and that the industry would never have to suffer being ignored like it was during the days of what was known as the Mercy Beat which of course was started by the Beatles from Liverpool England and took and caught flame hot and heavy and did not start plateauing until approximately 1974 or 1975 with acts like Rolling Stones and 10,000 other hot and heavy Rock and Rollers including some pretty famous American Rockers like: Jimi Hendrix , Led Zeppelin , The Bread , Cosby Stills Nash and Young , Janis Joplin and even lighter acts like Lobo, Creedence Clearwater Revival etc. etc. at any rate these acts were out selling Country Music artists in droves and the industry executives that had to account for the Country recording artists they had signed to a contrat at that time were accountable to explain why these people were on the major labels roster as well as account for the low sales these artists were producing on the retail shelves and believe me lots of country artists lost their recording contracts during that period ! This was the time in the 70's when even the "Grand Ol' Opry" staff and company moved the "Opry" out of the Ryman Auditorium and into the new complex that is known as the Grand Ole Opry and "Opryland " which is run like a Disney theme park today as far back as then the industry was changeing ! Add to that all the media hype about all the great Rock Stars that came out of the sixties and seventies and you have a whole generation of young people who are learning music and looking to a large volume of Rockers as heroes and they are learning about Hank williams and Rod Stewart and mixing it together with their understanding of music and what world applauds and dances to for two decades and we have the beginning of the departure from Country Music from it's purest form ! Then the eighties came around and we had a nostalgia period when people wanted to get back to the traditional roots of North American Country Music and sure enough there we're some talented traditionalists out there that almost made us believe we could have our quality country music back ! (During the seventies though there we're some country artists who were ahead of their time and could get a rocker and a country traditionaist to listen to them , people like Gary Stewart , New Riders of The Purple Sage , Jerry Jeff Walker , Ian Tyson , Mercy Brothers , Anne Murray , Gene Mclellan and HankWilliams Junior etc. )But all of a sudden we we're hearing Merle Haggard on the radio again , Ricky Van Shelton was a great discovery with a fantastic voice and great traditionalist sound and then a talent showed up that looked as bright as the day Merle Haggard was discovered as on One Hand we had the Hag back but "On the Other Hand " we had this new king of country called Randy Travis ! Dwight Yoakam came out of California and proved you could still play the Bakersfield sound and sell albums and CDs and George jones was getting airplay with tear jerkers and we could listen to intense music and know we had the ability to feel emotion again and they introduced us to a traditionalist that was to be one of George Jones competitors for the best emotional "stir up your inside feelings and rip the heart right out of your very soul" artists by the name of Vern Gosdin when he and Max Barnes got together and wrote a song they could take a bad day for Kimberly Clark Tissue and put them right back up there on the stock market with a dividend ! Just listen to "Chislled In Stone," or "This Song Wrote It's Self ". Then there is the Gentleman and ladies choice of most desireable Country artist , " George Strait", who in one of his songs in the end of the traditionalist movement period except for token tunes and an attempt not to loose what few original fans there is left in the Country field tells the truth about what the suits (executives) did to Classical Pure Country Music in Nashville and North America in his song titled , "Murder On Music Row," listen to it , It's the truth !
You see this has been coming for some time , I recall playing in lounges and bars and casinos in the 80's yet and running into people who would be in the audience or patrons of the establishment and even though the acts we were booked under advertised us as a Traditionalist Country Venue , folks would get upset when we didn't play Rock music and pretty soon these folks had the owners of these clubs demanding that we play Rock or more contemporary music than country in our gig or not get hired again in that club ! There were bands getting airplay like Alabama who, while were very good were more Southern Rock than Country , so you can see it was kind of a solidified move by the general public and if these Nashville and Major label Executives witnessed these scenes in clubs and concerts they may have been swayed to believe that Up-tempo contemporary Music was the way to go ! However something I always noticed was that usually when the contemporary music demand scene was played out in a club or cabaret it was usually not the majority that was hollering ,it was a minority of one or two parties of people !
I don't know what it is with Country Music , whether it is the deep sadness that people are not able to face and admit that in life shit happens and be able to except it in music form (as traditional classic country music is very honest and by nature does not hold back a lick of truth ,speaking of from the heart! Maybe thats the problem !)
At any rate it looks like most of the Bubblegum Country that is being played today is a mild version of any depth in feeling and if we don't be careful they'll be singing songs that sound like toothpaste commercials like that movie that Sylvester Stallone was in when they brought him back into the future to fight a vicous criminal that also was awakened from the past ! At any rate new country music just doesn't have the depth and sound of the quality we once had and taking out or cutting back on the steel guitar makes it sound less appealing with a loss of expression . It can't be the old twang problem they used to holler about as most of that was gone by the 80's except for people who have a natural regional belonging or accent ! Yes I too would love to have True Country Music back instead of the cheap counterfeit we hear today !

Posted by: Wayne Dawe at 3:29 AM on 24 December 2003