Merle Haggard Would Rather Work and Stay Skinny

Brady Vercher | February 3rd, 2009

  • Randy Lewis has a great interview with Merle Haggard over at the L.A. Times.

    Even more than his voluminous recordings, publishing royalties from his extensive trove of country songs assure him and his family financial stability for the rest of his life.

    “I make enough off my royalties that I could sit on my ass and get fat,” he says with a laugh. “But I’d rather keep working and stay skinny.”

    It’s long, but there’s some good stuff. It’s worth the read.

  • If you’re wondering if the new Bob Wills Tiffany Transcriptions 10-disc box set is worth the price, Eric Banister says if you’re a fan of Bob Wills or Western Swing, the answer is a “resounding yes!”
  • Patty Loveless reminisces with Craig Shelburne about 10 Grammy-winning country classics.

    “Harper Valley PTA,” Jeannie C. Riley
    Best Country Vocal Performance, Female — 1968

    I used to do this song, as well, when I was a kid. And I wore the boots and the short dress when the miniskirts were popular. I think it’s a great story, and I love story songs, just like Dolly’s “Coat of Many Colors.” I love story songs, and I thought it was a great story song. And Jeannie C. Riley, it was huge for her. Unbelievable! It changed everything for her.

  • Straight from the horse’s mouth, Daytrotter brings us three unreleased songs from Joe Pug.
  • Dailey & Vincent have planned a heavy schedule of tour dates and appearances to promote their upcoming album, Brothers from Different Mothers, which is set to land on March 31. The songs include a couple of Statler Brothers cuts and “You Oughta Be Here With Me” by the one and only Roger Miller.
  • New releases for the week of February 3, 2009 include:

  • Dierks Bentley and his marketing people sure know how to keep his name in the news. Only for today, his new album, Feel That Fire, is available at Amazon as a digital download for $3.99. Instant gratification and it’s light on the pocketbook; that’s what I like to see. (If you read the county music blogs, it’ll be hard to miss, so pick your favorite one and click the link.)
  • And if you haven’t had a chance to check out Dierks’ bio yet, he says he changed his approach to the recording process: “…do it in more of a rock and roll, or an old outlaw kind of country way. Use your guys; go in the studio; take the clock off the wall.” Has he been attending Kenny Chesney’s cheesy motivational speeches?

    Here’s another snippet in an interview over at The Boot:

    You’ve managed to do what a lot of artists cannot — stay true to traditional country music while keeping it cool and current. How do you find that balance?

    One word: authentic. A lot of artists come to Nashville. I feel like I am Nashville…

  • Wynonna thinks the next generation of country music listeners needs to discover legends like Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, and Tammy Wynette, three artists she covered on her new album. Readers in the forum have mixed opinions on the results.

    A lot of these whippersnappers today, they probably don’t know much about him. And I just want to get them in a headlock and say, ‘Come with me for a week,’ and show them the way of where we’ve come from.”

  • Critical darling Jamey Johnson will open a few shows for The 9513′s Country Artist of the Year, Willie Nelson, in March. It looks like they’ll mostly visit Florida with a stop in South Carolina and one in M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I. Johnson will also be singing his latest single, “High Cost of Living,” on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno this Thursday.
  • Lest you think Randy Houser is all work and no play, go listen to his LOL. Very infectious!
  • Be sure to check in tomorrow as we unveil the new class of Country Music Hall of Fame inductees. They’ll will be chosen from the follow groups: Recording/Touring musician active prior to 1980, Performer whose career reached national prominence between WWII and 1975, and Performer whose career reached national prominence after 1975.
  • UPDATE: Today is the 50th anniversary of “The Day the Music Died.” It was half a century ago that a plane crash took the lives of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Richie Valens. Barry Mazor has an article over on The Wall Street Journal about Buddy Holly’s still-living legacy.

1 Ping

  1. [...] offer generated a lot of media coverage (including here on The 9513) and garnered praise from fans thankful for the discount. So that’s a good thing, [...]
  1. Paula_W
    February 3, 2009 at 11:41 am

    I just ordered the Aaron Tippin cd from Amazon. (I’m an ‘old-fashioned’ gal who likes the ‘real’ cd). LOL.

    Went to check it out to listen to “Chicken Truck” (I know the co-writer on that one) and found out it was a whole album of truck-driving songs. And I love Aaron Tippin, so I had to have it.

  2. Rick
    February 3, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Off Topic: Josh Turner will be in concert at the Sunset Strip House of Blues in West Hollywood this Friday. The tickets are $ 35 and today Josh’s show was included in their “Two For The Price of One Tuesdays” offer which tries to boost sales at slow selling shows. Josh doesn’t get much airplay on LA’s FM Top 40 country station as he’s not Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, or Rascal Flatts….

    As much as I like Bob Wills I could never go for a 10 CD set from any artist! I’ll stick with my “Greatest Hits” CD. It is nice that the Tiffany Transcriptions are being released though in such a fashion for posterity.

    Wow, it sounds like Dierks is getting a swelled head. Does this mean he and Gary Allan won’t be getting along? Hmm….

    Does anyone have pictures of a young patty Loveless singing “Harper Valley PTA”? Sounds kinda interesting…(lol)

  3. Brady Vercher
    February 3, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    I wonder if Rick’s LOL sounds like Randy Houser.

  4. Brady Vercher
    February 3, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Just updated with a link about Buddy Holly for anyone interested.

  5. Matt B.
    February 3, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Brady,

    Rick’s LOL is probably only like Randy Houser’s when he’s giggling about the female artist’s “assets.”

  6. Brady Vercher
    February 3, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    So are you saying Houser is laughing about badonkadonk in that clip??

  7. Matt B.
    February 3, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    For some of it, yes.

  8. Hollerin' Ben
    February 3, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    I think this whole Dierks for $3.99 thing is a net negative for music overall. It’s just another downward pressure on music pricing in general, making it even harder for independent artists, or artists on small labels, to coming anywhere close to breaking even with their recording costs.

    Granted, prices were ridiculous when a cd set you back $15 in like 1995, but I think between $10-$12 today is a good price for a full album, but now more and more consumers are going to be looking for albums selling for lower and lower prices, giving them yet another reason to skip over independent releases.

    Dierks Bentley’s album pricing reflects his desire for his record to be distributed as widely as possibly without consideration for long term impact on his own recording career, or the broader country music industry in general. I guess he is pretty Nashville after all.

  9. Matt B.
    February 3, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Ben,

    Bentley probably had nothing to do with that album pricing. It’s just a first week sales gimmick to get sales boosts, which is no different than Best Buy putting stuff on sale for 6.99 or 7.99.

    As for the long-term impact on his career, it doesn’t matter at this point as he can and will tour behind his old hits for a long time to come, even if shows will be to 1-3K people venues, he’ll still do fine off of shows like that, as do many, many artists, indie or major label.

  10. Hollerin' Ben
    February 3, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Matt B.

    short answer – yeah, that’s what I’m saying man.

    long response –

    “Bentley probably had nothing to do with that album pricing”

    The idea probably didn’t originate with him, and who knows, he may be vehemently opposed to the idea, but artists like Hank III and Tim McGraw speak out when their record companies take actions that they strongly disagree with. We can only assume that Dierks is onboard with this idea.

    “is no different than Best Buy putting stuff on sale for 6.99 or 7.99.”

    yeah, exactly, like I said “It’s just another downward pressure on music pricing in general, making it even harder for independent artists, or artists on small labels, to coming anywhere close to breaking even with their recording costs.”

    “As for the long-term impact on his career, it doesn’t matter at this point as he can and will tour behind his old hits for a long time to come, even if shows will be to 1-3K people venues, he’ll still do fine off of shows like that, as do many, many artists, indie or major label.”

    First off, I specifically said “long term impact on his own recording career”. I’m fully aware that Dierks will be fine touring indefinitely.

    Secondly, yeah, if you can sell 2000 tickets a night, you’ll do just fine, whether on an indie or a major label. But how can independent artists or artists on small labels build that kind of fanbase when they need to be prepared to lose large sums of money on their initial recordings. I’m sure it hasn’t escaped anyone that they literally have to sell more than twice as many albums at $3.99 than they do at $9.00. That means they have to double their already hard won successes to stay where they would have been before.

    My main point is that Dierks has already made his money. He was funded by a multi-national corporation for whom music is just a small, and not necessarily profitable piece of the pie, they funneled his cd’s into stores like Best Buy, which used music as a loss leader and therefore could afford to heavily discount prices since they weren’t making their money on music, they were making it on computers/tv’s/etc. Dierks’ whole career has been huge companies drowning the marketplace in money to the end of making Dierks a star and securing a fanbase that will allow Dierks to tour regularly and profitably for the next 15 years at least.

    and what does Dierks turn around and do, after being a beneficiary of the old wasteful model that has helped bring the music industry as we know it to it’s knees? He releases a record for $3.99 and helps to depress music pricing even further.

  11. Leeann Ward
    February 3, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Ben, I see your point, but I’m still grateful for a bargain. I guess it’s the capitalist in me.

  12. Hollerin' Ben
    February 3, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    “Ben, I see your point, but I’m still grateful for a bargain.”

    haha, sure man, I mean, you get a mediocre release from one of Nashville’s more boring artists and all it costs ya is $3.99 and the ability to listen to talented independent songwriters and musicians in the future! What a deal!

  13. Leeann Ward
    February 3, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    I suppose it’s a difference in opinion for us. I think I’m getting a boring release from one of Nashville’s usually more interesting artists.

  14. Hollerin' Ben
    February 3, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    haha, that makes it all worth it then.

  15. Leeann Ward
    February 3, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Miss Leslie is literally giving her album away. Todd Snider gave his away for a month before its official release. I don’t think selling a digital album for a low price for one day is going to topple the independent artists’ futures. Rest assured, at any rate, that me buying this album for four bucks won’t, in fact, stop me from buying full priced albums that I like in the future–independent or not.

  16. Zach
    February 3, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    I’m with LeeAnn. I’ll gladly take the CD for $10 cheaper than I would have paid.

    The gimmick is only for a day (I believe). I don’t think we’re going to see any independent artists give up their dreams or become financially shot because Dierks Bentley sold a few thousand albums at a cheaper cost. Sure, it won’t help their cause, especially if other artists start following the trend, but I can’t blame him for deliver more albums at a cheaper price, especially in a time where money isn’t flowing as fast as it used to.

    “one of Nashville’s more boring artists”…?

    I’m a concert junkie, as I’m sure many others here are, and there are few people I’d pay more to see perform live than Dierks. He is one of the most energetic and entertaining shows out there. Substance-wise, he has his share of duds, but I’d hardly consider his work “boring”.

  17. m.c.
    February 3, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Ben–Albums have been discounted since albums have been made, no matter the delivery format. I went through stages early in life where I only bought cut-out bin LPs because I could get several for $10. These days, if anyone wants a new CD, they can usually download it for free or go to e-bay the day after release and find it for half price or less.
    Considering everything going on in music sales, I don’t think one artist staging a sales gimmick to boost first-week numbers is going to bring about the end of “the ability to listen to talented independent songwriters and musicians in the future.” Bentley’s album will be back to full price soon, and, as always, itll be the talented independent types who keep music alive no matter what corporations do.

  18. Leeann Ward
    February 3, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    As far as I know it’s only on sale for today, not even a whole week.

  19. Matt B.
    February 3, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Ben,

    Independent doesn’t always equal better. It’s a tired indie rock fanboy arguement that is equally tired here.

  20. Brady Vercher
    February 3, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Ben isn’t arguing that indie releases are always better, although he may feel that way. His argument is that downward trending prices will have a negative impact on the survival of indie artists. There’s nothing tired or fanboyish about that.

  21. m.c.
    February 3, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    I don’t think “talented independent artists” equates indie label acts, either, at least how I meant it. I think Emmylou Harris is talented and independent, as is Dylan, Tom Petty, and so on. Those particularl artists have always worked with major labels, but they can be rightly called independent artists because they’re not controlled by producers or have images or sounds manufactured for them by record labels.

  22. Hollerin' Ben
    February 3, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    First off, let’s set my opinion of Bentley’s music aside, since it’s immaterial, I know I brought it up, and he does just bore me to tears (despite seeming well intentioned enough), but that’s not what bugs me about this.

    also, I’d like to scale back my argument to my initial post as well. I know that Bentley’s action isn’t going to singlehandedly devalue music to the point where self-funded artists (i.e. artists who need to actually make money as they go along to do things like pay rent, buy food, rent vans, etc) can’t possibly function.

    That being said, I stand by my initial argument that it is “a net negative for music overall. It’s just another downward pressure on music pricing in general, making it even harder for independent artists, or artists on small labels, to coming anywhere close to breaking even with their recording costs.”

    As far as Todd Snider and Miss Leslie offering their albums for free. It’s strange thing, but as independent artists it’s not going to have any sort of broad effect on consumer’s expectations, Dierks’ on the other hand will.

    M.C.
    “as always, itll be the talented independent types who keep music alive no matter what corporations do.”

    Sadly, no. the profession of independent recording artist is not actually something that’s guaranteed to always exist. If quality albums cost more to record than can be recouped, if bare minimum promotion and travel cost heavily outweigh money musicians can make touring until they are at the “I can draw 2000 people a night” level, then no, the talented independent types will not be keeping music alive as profession.

    Matt B.

    Your reading comprehension is sub-par today.

    Independent artists, small record labels, and brick and mortar music stores, unlike multinational corporations and big box retailers, need to make money as they go. They can’t lose millions and millions of dollars on music before they make money on something else.

    but by all means, continue to find ways to let everyone know that you’re a proud apologist for corporate Nashville country no matter what the actual topic of discussion is.

  23. Hollerin' Ben
    February 3, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    M.C.

    “Those particular artists have always worked with major labels, but they can be rightly called independent artists because they’re not controlled by producers or have images or sounds manufactured for them by record labels.”

    those particular artists came up in a time where things in the music business were drastically different than things are today.

  24. Mike Wimmer
    February 3, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Dierks new album didnt do much for me upon first listen, but it has really grown on me. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s still better than most of the stuff coming out of Nashville.

    I do find it funny the “bounus” tracks on iTunes and Rhapsody are better than a number of tracks on the regular version. “Take Me Down” might be one of my favorite songs thus far this year.

  25. Matt B.
    February 3, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    Matt B.

    Your reading comprehension is sub-par today.

    Independent artists, small record labels, and brick and mortar music stores, unlike multinational corporations and big box retailers, need to make money as they go. They can’t lose millions and millions of dollars on music before they make money on something else.

    but by all means, continue to find ways to let everyone know that you’re a proud apologist for corporate Nashville country no matter what the actual topic of discussion is.

    Ben,

    Perhaps I worded my response wrong in the posts above. I certainly don’t want to be seen as an apologist for anybody (particularly big companies as the one I work for certainly isn’t one). I always have and always will champion ‘indie’ artists. I guess I merely misappropriated my frustrations with people (some of whom comment here) who equate anything from a major label/corporation as “bad” and anything from indie artists “great.”

    So, I apologize to you for lumping you into that group on the basis of your comments about Dierks and sales.

  26. Matt B.
    February 3, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    I should clarify “I don’t want to be seen as an apologist for anybody (particularly one for big companies as the company I work for certainly isn’t a big company).

  27. Hollerin' Ben
    February 3, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    apology accepted. thanks man.

  28. janet m
    February 3, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Feel That Fire is spawning a lot of blazing clichés this week, and all of them are right! This is one hot CD that is going to go places – read that up! Dierks has said he wanted to stay in the moment, as well as have fun. He’s done it with style and grace. Style with the Warren Brothers in the title cut, grace with the incomparable Patti Griffin in Beautiful World, Better Believer, co-written with Rivers Rutherford, and Pray, written with Rodney Crowell. For fun you can’t beat Sideways and Here She Comes. My favorite today is I Wanna Close Your Eyes, but tomorrow it may change to that motorcycle revving Life on the Run with Mike McCready (Pearl Jam). You may remember McCready’s previous contribution with Bentley on Distant Shore on his first CD. Feel that Fire? You bet.

  29. Rick
    February 3, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    Wow Janet M, your post sounds like it was written by Dierks’ publicist! The more such groundless hype I read the more disinterested I become in “Feel That Fire”, assuming that is possible that is…..

  30. Leeann Ward
    February 4, 2009 at 8:39 am

    The exact same description was left on our site as well.

  31. Joe
    February 4, 2009 at 8:44 am

    I do agree that Bentley is starting to become more generic this time around. Listening to the album, there are but a few gems to be found. Most of the songs would fit right in with his last few albums, making this album an undistinctive work. This is a Dierks fan talking as well; I own his last three albums, but I’m going to think twice about buying this latest one.

  32. Josh
    February 4, 2009 at 10:06 am

    To add fire to this album dissin’ discussion…I am always puzzled by the online media market allowing to have one extra song that isn’t on a regular album off the rack of stores. How did this start and how does it work??? I feel a bait coming on that I HAVE to buy the entire album to get that extra song, which I think grinds my teeth for financial reasons, but it also puzzles me that an artist/label team establishes a batch of song into an album with online ventures promoting an additional flavor. Again: how can this be??

  33. Leeann Ward
    February 4, 2009 at 10:11 am

    I’m quite enjoying the Tippin album. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s good stuff for sure.

  34. Chris N.
    February 4, 2009 at 11:59 am

    @Josh: Don’t know if this is standard operating practice, but I recall the pop singer Lily Allen complaining publicly that iTunes had insisted on getting a couple of bonus tracks for her album as a precondition of promoting it at the iTunes store. She was really annoyed about it, and apparently gave them a remix she didn’t like while giving away her own handpicked “bonus tracks” on her MySpace page.

  35. Razor X
    February 4, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Bonus tracks are not just included with digital releases. Look at how many albums in recent years have come in “standard” and “deluxe” editions.

  36. Josh
    February 5, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    @Chris: are you saying that iTunes can have CONTROL of an artist’s final product??? Wow…that indicates to me that a corporation within the music field can alternate a creative person to their liking…that is spooky.

  37. Karlie
    February 6, 2009 at 7:28 am

    BTW, I watched Jamey Johnson sing “High Cost of Living” on Leno last night, and after he performed Jay joined him to sign off for the night. He invited his other two guests to join them, and Jennifer Aniston looked terrified to get near Jamey. It was pretty funny.

  38. Paula_W
    February 13, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    I got the Aaron Tippin cd – Overdrive. I love it!! I highly recommend it to anyone who likes Aaron Tippin or truckdriving songs. I like both so this is definitely gonna get a lot of play at my house. My daughter will probably play it as much as I do.

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