Michael Martin Murphey Inks Multi-Album Deal; Josh Turner’s Groovin’ Video; Corb Lund Acoustic

Brody Vercher | October 8th, 2009

  1. Jim Malec
    October 8, 2009 at 10:19 am

    And the “it’s cool to hate on Garth” train continues to roll.

    Country music got boring under Brooks? Was Rabin paying attention to country music in the second half of the 80s? Garth was a lot of things, but boring ain’t one.

  2. idlewildsouth
    October 8, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Amen, Jim.

  3. Thomas
    October 8, 2009 at 11:09 am

    …depends on the bull.

  4. Jon
    October 8, 2009 at 11:13 am

    That’s got to have been a heck of an eligibility period for the Nashville Music Awards – the SteelDrivers album came out close to 2 years ago, and even the ‘dusters album was released in June or July of last year – but the award was certainly deserved (though all the nominees were worthy). And yay for Sarah Siskind!

  5. J.R. Journey
    October 8, 2009 at 11:32 am

    While I don’t agree with Rubin’s take on Garth’s music or his career in general, I think he hit the nail on the head about The Garth Factor. I am only half-way through it and even though it does offer some insight as far as how Garth’s albums were made and the people involved in making them, etc., it does read like a long-ass artist-approved bio/timeline of Garth Brooks’s career, and paints him to be the prince on the white horse arrived to ‘save country music’ who got picked on by mean ole’ Jimmy Bowen, ignored by Scott Hendricks, and generally treated badly by Capitol. I’m just not very impressed with the book, and I kinda expected to be, since I’ve always been so fascinated with Garth Brooks’ career.

    That was the first edition of Nashville or Bust that I’m relatively indifferent to.

  6. Hollerin' Ben
    October 8, 2009 at 11:33 am

    “Country music got boring under Brooks? Was Rabin paying attention to country music in the second half of the 80s? Garth was a lot of things, but boring ain’t one.”

    Second half of the 80’s boring? You mean the Dwight Yoakam, Steve Earle second half of the 80’s? Even Randy Travis seems a revelation when compared to Brooks – who is one of my guilty pleasures, but then again so is BJ Thomas and I’d weigh them about equally in terms of talent and critical worth.

    Your partisanship for Brooks is one of your quirks Jim, and it’s fairly unique from those offering the level of criticism that you provide. Maybe you should think about writing a full length critical article in defense of Brooks and his music. I’d definitely be interested in reading it.

  7. Leeann Ward
    October 8, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Absolutely, Jim.

  8. stormy
    October 8, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Will Hodge is straight up pure Rock and Roll, but he is damned good straight up, pure Rock and Roll.

  9. Chris N.
    October 8, 2009 at 11:46 am

    “Was Rabin paying attention to country music in the second half of the 80s?”

    No he wasn’t — that’s the whole point of the series, that he doesn’t know anything about country and he’s trying to learn.

  10. Noeller
    October 8, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    I’m not certain the article was saying that Garth was boring, so much as it was saying that Garth’s influence on Country music created a more boring genre. See, whether you agree or not, there’s a belief that Garth ushered in the “Nashville Sound” which required everything to be perfect – hello Pro Tools and Auto Tune!! – and went away from the “rough around the edges” sound that some say gave life to the Outlaw moment.

    “In Pieces” is a defining album of my youth, so God knows I’m going to defend the guy to the death, but there are lot of nostalgia folks who will despise him forever, for bringing a greater commercialism to Country music than had ever been known, and equate that commercialism with “boring”.

  11. Andrew
    October 8, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Some of what Rabin says has merit, but a lot of it does seem to fall in line with “It’s cool to hate on Garth.”

    Then again, growing up on Garth is the reason I got into country, so I’m not exactly unbiased.

  12. Truersound
    October 8, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    It is now cool to hate on Garth…finally! Someone notify the cool kids table, I’ve been waiting years for this!

  13. Leeann Ward
    October 8, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Then again, growing up on Garth is the reason I got into country, so I’m not exactly unbiased.

    Ditto to that, Andrew.

  14. stormy
    October 8, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Truer: We’re still not letting you sit at our table.

  15. Leeann Ward
    October 8, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    I’ve never been fond of the cool kid’s table, anyway.:)

  16. Jim Malec
    October 8, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    @Ben: That Garth Brooks led to the “suburbanization” of country music is the popular stance among music writers, an unsurprising fact since most of those writers are high-information, long-tail listeners–many being purists of some sort. They see “The Garth Factor” as this turning point where country lost its edge and took on a commercial sheen that led to an artistic decline across the board. Garth, of course, is the easy target, because he was by far the most commercially successful artist of more than one era.

    But it’s not true. Country music, as a format, has always had a commercial sheen. And my comment about the later half of the 80s was referring to the fact that it was during this period when we witnessed some of the most trite and sanitized music in country’s history. There were counterpoints, as you pointed out, but artists like Yoakam and Earle do not represent the tone of country music as a whole during that period.

    The sanitizing and suburbanization of country music has been ongoing, and in various phases and counterphases, since the format’s standardization, dating back–depending on who you ask–50 years or more. That Brooks was the most successful in terms of creating music that synthesized non-country influences into a product that could be sold to non-niche consumers neither detracts from his artistic authenticity nor the final “quality” of his music.

    Garth Brooks was a mainstream, major label country artist. Within that framework, he produced a wealth of music that is indisputably “country” by even the most conservative applications of the definition. Further, he produced more than a handful of music that could rightly be called “traditional” country music–not to mention that he was one of the few artists of his era (again, within that mainstream framework) attempting not only to synthesize pop and rock elements, but also honky tonk and Western elements.

    To that end, the fact that Brooks was able to sell millions of records to a new audience is quite astonishing. You had soccer moms buying an album that included songs like “In Lonesome Dove” and “We Bury The Hatchet.” That’s an exceptional achievement. Brooks may have brought non-country elements to some of his music, but he was not peddling a fully-interlaced mash-up that could ultimately be pegged as pop or rock. That music, with a small number of departures, was (and remains) country…more so then many of his predecessors, contemporaries or followers.

    As a side point, I find no song more sanitized or boring than “Forever And Ever, Amen.”

  17. Chris D.
    October 8, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Wait, am I at the cool kids table?

  18. Leeann Ward
    October 8, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    I don’t agree with the dig at Randy Travis, but I agree with the greater points about Garth, particularly that he really integrated country sounds/elements into his music. Paisley gets credit for that now, but I think Garth did it just as well and probably even better. Furthermore, I think Garth’s music was far more interesting than Brad’s, even though I’m a Paisley fan. As far as Garth and Randy are concerned, no one could dispute my love of Randy Travis, but I have to say that Garth’s music is really more interesting than RTs. RT is known for many good things, but being particularly “interesting” is not one of them. If anything, he was mostly straight arrow and really didn’t go out of his comfort zone all too often; much like Alan Jackson (though Jackson did at least leave it to do Like Red on A Rose).

  19. Chris N.
    October 8, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Why do you have to bring “Forever And Ever, Amen” into this?

  20. Nicolas
    October 8, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Jewel’s new song sounded gorgeous =)

  21. Thomas
    October 8, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    nathan rabin surely would find a point of view to call the “acropolis” in athens an old building with a leaking roof. that’s not wrong but somehow missing the essential. garth brooks’ music was strong enough to lift a whole genre to levels almost unimaginable. quite frankly, i much prefer country having been “suburbanized” by garth than hanging around “backwoods” playing with “big green tractors”.

  22. Rick
    October 8, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Opry Alert! Sunny Sweeney will be part of tonight’s “Classic Country Opry” which has the theme “Songs That Made The Opry Famous”! Other artists performing include The Del McCoury Band (always fantastic), Jim Lauderdale, Mandy Barnett, and the usual “Opry Suspects” (er I mean “Legends”). There is a remote chnace Sunny will sing the Kitty Wells classic “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels”! (lol)
    The fun starts 7 PM Nashville time (CST).
    Schedule: http://www.opry.com/TicketsAndInformation/ThisWeek.aspx
    Listen In Online: http://www.wsmonline.com/ (If it’s working that is. Sheesh.)

    I received my copy of the new Patty Loveless album “Mountain Soul II” I won at “My Kind of Country” (thanks guys) and its just okay (3.5 Stars). It doesn’t hold a candle compared to the original but I do love Rebecca Lynn Howard’s backing and harmony vocals. Hey Rebecca Lynn when are you gonna get back to your Kentucky roots and do an album like this? I’m waiting! (lol)

    On the other hand I also received a copy of the first Fox Family bluegrass CD from 1997 titled “Follow My Lead” and it totally kicks the ass of the new Patty Loveless album! Go 3 Fox Drive!

    Its nice to see Sarah Siskind and The Steeldrivers win at the Nashville Music Awards! At least some real talents got recognized as opposed to those other country poseurs mentioned…

  23. Steve Harvey
    October 8, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    @Jim Malec: Word. Excellent defense of Mr B.

  24. idlewildsouth
    October 8, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    I feel like “Did Garth Brooks ruin country music?” is asked as often as “What is country music?”. We’ll never resolve it.

  25. Lucas
    October 9, 2009 at 8:54 am

    I’ll resolve it right now – Garth Brooks saved country music.

  26. Mike Parker
    October 9, 2009 at 9:55 am

    I can only speak for myself, but Garth brought me back to country music. The reason he was such a big deal isn’t some sort of weird phenomenon- he was/is a phenomenon. His music is intriguing, his performances are exhilarating, and the fact that fame hasn’t turned him into a giant jackass is amazing.

    I listened to every country album I could get my hands on in the late 80’s/early 90’s and Garth’s music was just better than that of his contemporaries. It was fun or poignant or poetic and always entertaining. I love Randy Travis/Steve Earle/Dwight Yoakum/Foster&Lloyd, but when Garth came out with his video for The Dance, turned and talked to the audience- it changed something.

  27. Thomas
    October 9, 2009 at 10:20 am

    …saved it from what?

  28. Lucas
    October 9, 2009 at 10:24 am


  29. Jon
    October 9, 2009 at 10:29 am


  30. Chris N.
    October 9, 2009 at 10:33 am
  31. Lucas
    October 9, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Every artist today would be less popular if Garth Brooks never hit country radio.

  32. Jon
    October 9, 2009 at 10:38 am

    In the first place, that’s simply speculative. In the second place, since country’s share of the radio audience and CD sales is pretty much in the middle of its historic range, it’s arguably wrong. Last, and most importantly, there’s a big difference between “less popular” and “obscure.”

  33. Lucas
    October 9, 2009 at 10:41 am

    1. Garth only allowed his music to be played on country radio, he is the best selling solo artist of all-time, he brought non-country listeners to country radio. That’s not speculative.

    2. The reason for country’s current sales are due to the formats being sold.

    3. Tell your definition of obscure to Jazz musicians that wish Jazz was played on mainstream stations.

  34. stormy
    October 9, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Waylon Jennings once famously compared Garth Brooks to pantyhose.

  35. Thomas
    October 9, 2009 at 11:13 am

    …vs. stockings and trimmings?

  36. stormy
    October 9, 2009 at 11:20 am

    As in Garth is to country music was pantyhose are to another Waylon favored activity.

  37. Thomas
    October 9, 2009 at 11:48 am

    no doubt, a connoisseur, the late great waylon jennings.

  38. Jon
    October 9, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Dude, there were already millions of country radio listeners and CD buyers before Garth came along. Rabin’s piece says that at his peak, he was selling 10% of the genre’s CDs. That’s huge, no doubt, but there was another 90%. Country music was neither obscure nor headed for obscurity before he came along, and therefore he can’t be credited for saving it from obscurity.

  39. Leeann Ward
    October 9, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    I love Garth, but I’m thinking you’re using the wrong word by claiming “obscurity.” I’m never comfortable claiming that anyone will or has saved country music from anything in general though. It just provides too many holes for counterarguments.

  40. Mike Parker
    October 9, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    I don’t think he so much saved it from obscurity as elevated it from mediocrity…

  41. Lucas
    October 9, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    I’m sticking with obscurity. Polka was big at one point.

  42. Thomas
    October 9, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    @ mike parker

    i wouldn’d call people like yoakam, jackson, travis, black, reba, strait or tritt mediocre by any standard. they were around when garth entered the stage. not to mention giants like dolly, nelson, jennings, jones, merle etc. if that’s mediocrity – i’ll go for mediocrity any day.

  43. Jon
    October 9, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    That’s a really, really bad analogy. In 1988, the year before Brooks released his first album, consumers spent half a billion dollars on country recordings. Alabama, John Denver, Patty Loveless, Reba McEntire, K. T. Oslin, Ricky Van Shelton, George Strait, Randy Travis and Dwight Yoakam all released platinum-selling albums that year. There were over 2,000 full-time country stations, accounting for 20% of all US stations, and by that time, the CMA awards show had been annually broadcast on prime time national TV for more than 20 years. That’s not obscure.

  44. Chris N.
    October 9, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Let him be right and move on.

  45. T. Scott
    October 9, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    gotta weigh in on Garth.

    (1) No one except Marty Robbins did better “cowboy” songs. His take on the rodeo life was spot on.
    (2) I hated “Shameless”, and most of the other songs that he recorded seemingly just to create a video,BUT GOD KNOWS THEY SOLD…
    (3)I bet even the Killer in his prime would have hated to follow Garth,and it wasn’t just the pyrotechnics.I saw him on one of his first tours,opening for Clint Black and Ricky Van Shelton.He ended his show with “Friends in Low Places” (this was unreleased at the time) and those other two acts should have just gone home.

    So,Saviour or destroyer? I don’t know,

  46. Robert
    October 9, 2009 at 1:53 pm


    spot on with your summation of Garth and the contributions he made to music!!!! He is one of the finest examples that country can truly be brought to the masses without resorting to sounding like Fast Ryde or Adam Gregory. There is something about his music that appeals to everyone (well most everyone.) Even through to the ‘end’ of his career, he continued to use songs heavily rooted in traditional country, possibly even more than his earlier albums. I for one am eagerly awaiting his return.

  47. Lucas
    October 9, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    John Denver is folk.

    There are still over 2,000 stations.

    A platinum selling album looks funny compared to a diamond album.

  48. stormy
    October 9, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    T Scott: Chris LeDeux did way better cowboy songs. Micheal Martin Murphey still does.

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