Stream New Records from Bob Dylan, Kix Brooks; Eric Church Plans Live Album; New Music Videos

Juli Thanki | September 5th, 2012

  • Performing Songwriter posted excerpts of a 1995 interview with Hal David.
  • Emily Robison and her boyfriend welcomed a newborn daughter yesterday.
  • Out October 16: the 2-disc deluxe edition of The Infamous Stringdusters’ Silver Sky.
  • Also out on October 16: Christmas with Scotty McCreery. (via press release)
  • Here’s a free download of the title track of Town Mountain’s Leave the Bottle.
  • Stream Bob Dylan’s Tempest.
  • Kix Brooks’ New to This Town can also be streamed on Amazon until the album’s September 11 release.
  • Watch a clip of Loretta Lynn being interviewed on WZTV.
  • American Songwriter’s Jim Beviglia listed The Band’s Top 20 Songs.
  • Album covers from Dierks Bentley and The Avett Brothers got Farced.
  • This year’s CMA Award nominees will be announced later this morning. We’ll keep you posted and have a column from Holly Gleason about the nominations this afternoon.
  • Recent music videos:

Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson – “Adam and Eve”

Taylor Swift – “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”

Randy Houser – “How Country Feels”

Parmalee – “Musta Had a Good Time”

Yarn – “It’s All Over Now”

Florida-Georgia Line – “Cruise”

Madison Cain – “Dirt”

Thorne Hill – “Help Me Find the Strength”

Mark Wells – “Give It Up”

Maggie Rose – “I Ain’t Your Mama” 

Plastic Wood – “Country Town”

Paul Brandt – “Now”

Jack County – “Sun Shinin’ Down”

Charla Corn – “Big T-Shirt”

  1. Ken Morton, Jr.
    September 5, 2012 at 9:06 am

    The first round of CMA Award nominees were announced this morning:
    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/entertainment/2012/09/2012-cma-awards-nominations-announced-live-on-gma/

  2. timeo
    September 5, 2012 at 9:51 am

    I don’t get Kelly Clarkson’s CMA nomination for best female vocalist. Does she even record country music? And, I don’t mean that in a purist “Hey, if it don’t sound like Hank or Loretta it ain’t country” kind of way. I mean, literally: Is she considered a country artist? Is her music played on country radio, housed in the country section of record stores, marketed to the country audience? Other than originally being from Texas, why would she be considered a country artist?

  3. Ken Morton, Jr.
    September 5, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Timeo, that’s one I have to agree on. There is no denying her skills as a vocalist, but by her own admission, she isn’t making country albums.

  4. Adam Sheets
    September 5, 2012 at 10:37 am

    If “Home” by Dierks Bentley (a clear case of plagiarism) wins song of the year, the CMA loses it’s last shred of credibility.

  5. J.R. Journey
    September 5, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Kelly Clarkson for CMA Female Vocalist of the Year? I expect her to release a country-themed album soon, but since she hasn’t yet, I just don’t get it. Her country credits for the past year include a #1 hit duet with Jason Aldean and also her first solo country song with “Mr. Know It All” going to #21. The country music industry has already awarded her with statues from the CMA, ACM, and CMT for her duets with Reba and Aldean. I don’t think she has a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the vocalist award this year, but Music Row is obviously ready to embrace the Nashville resident.

  6. Barry Mazor
    September 5, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Apparently some things are ultra clear to you, Mr. Sheets. which remain much murkier to some other people.

  7. nm
    September 5, 2012 at 11:58 am

    The full list of CMA nominations is here: http://blogs.tennessean.com/tunein/2012/09/05/2012-cma-nominations-revealed/

    I admit to being kind of bemused (in the same sense Timeo brings to Kelly Clarkson) to the Civil Wars as a country act.

  8. timeo
    September 5, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    @Barry Mazor: I’m not sure if you’re accusing Adam of making this up, but a few months back there was quite a bit of hubbub (yay! an excuse to use the word “hubbub”) about the uncanny resemblenace of “Home” to a Jason Isbell song. “Dierks’ has officially ripped off my song ‘In A Razor Town.’ Dierks is a d—–bag,” [Jason] Isbell tweeted on Friday, later clarifying for his followers that “the song of Dierks is called ‘Home.’” ( http://tasteofcountry.com/dierks-bentley-accused-of-plagiarizing-song/ )

  9. Jon
    September 5, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    I don’t think Barry’s accusing Adam of making that up, I think he’s pointing out that some people question the extent to which the purported uncanny resemblance is uncanny. Count me among them; I’ve listened to both songs, and I think Jason Isbell is full of something that bears an uncanny resemblance to horsesh*t.

  10. Jack Williams
    September 5, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    I’ve listened to the two songs. To my ears, the melodies in the vocals are very similar in the two songs. Enough for the songwriters to be charged with plagiarism? Don’t know enough about that subject.

  11. Adam Sheets
    September 5, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Whether it’s plagiarism or not is almost beside the point. That may still be decided in a court of law and the royalties and the award nomination may be confiscated by Jason Isbell. The larger point is that the CMA nominated a song which is not all that great to begin with for “Song of the Year” when that song’s origins and authorship is contested. They are asking for controversy and if “Home” wins they will undoubtedly get it.

  12. Jon
    September 5, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    “Whether it’s plagiarism or not is almost beside the point. That may still be decided in a court of law…”

    If by “may” you mean, “won’t be unless Jason Isbell files a suit, which, more than half a year after making his accusation, he still hasn’t done.”

    Which not only suggests that he’s unwilling to put his money where his tweeter is, but that the degree to which the song’s origins and authorship is (sic) contested – and hence, the degree to which there is or might be any controversy about it – ain’t really that big. In fact, I’d venture to guess that once you get outside of that part of the blogosphere that’s prone to muttering about authenticity, roots and the evil Nashvegas suits – and that spent all of about 5 minutes muttering about this little tempest in a teapot before moving on to another – it’s about the size of a flyspeck.

  13. Adam Sheets
    September 5, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    I can see a lawsuit coming up as a result of the nomination. It’s one thing to use somebody else’s melody. It happens all the time and has at least since the beginning of recorded sound. It’s another thing to get on a stage and accept an award for somebody else’s work without giving them the proper credit. I’m not saying any of that as a fact, but this nomination (and even more so the song’s potential victory) could give Isbell the incentive to take it to court.

  14. Jon
    September 5, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Well, sure. And Mitt Romney could get elected and raise taxes on the rich. In the meantime, all it takes is a few seconds’ worth of Googling to realize that this alleged controversy doesn’t exist outside of one person’s imagination.

  15. Mike Wimmer
    September 5, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    I love Jason Isbell and Dierks Bentley is one of the best mainstream artists around right now, which granted isnt saying much, but is true.

    That said, honestly the similarity of “Home” and “In A Razor Town” is nothing compared to what Toby Keith got away with in regards to “Bullets in The Gun”.

  16. Adam Sheets
    September 5, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Controversy or not, if this song wins, the CMA Awards become irrelevant, much like the Grammys did win Milli Vanilli won Best New Artist.

  17. Barry Mazor
    September 5, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    I was wella ware of the “controversy”..and in fact to some degree know both parties. I have nothing more to add–but I know that.

  18. Jeremy Dylan
    September 5, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    That’s a pretty ludicrous statement Adam.

    For one thing, I’m sure you’d find plenty of people who disagree with your premise the the Grammys are irrelevant.

    Personally, I think it’s a very fine song indeed, and would be very pleased if it won.

    Even if I didn’t like it, and it won, I wouldn’t see that as discrediting the entire awards ceremony.

  19. Adam Sheets
    September 5, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    It’s not an issue of whether it’s a good song or not. It’s an issue of who will get the award. Such awards usually go to the writers and one of them in this case is Jason Isbell.

    As far as Dierks Bentley goes, apart from this song, I do enjoy some of his work. But this particular song is full of cliche lyrics that were tired even before Toby Keith got ahold of them following 9/11 and a melody that is a direct ripoff of another artist’s song. I tend to not talk too much about what’s coming out of Nashville’s major labels these days because I don’t like most of it and don’t feel it’s worth my time. But if this song is the best the CMAs can come up with then they are irrelevant.

  20. Jon
    September 5, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    ” It’s an issue of who will get the award. Such awards usually go to the writers and one of them in this case is Jason Isbell.”

    Jason Isbell isn’t credited with this song. And he’s done nothing to date – zero, zip, nada – that would cause him to get a credit. FYI, there is a significant difference between tweeting an allegation of infringement and filing a claim thereof, never mind actually winning, or even settling. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s feeling like the whole outburst is better off forgotten – and judging by the apparently complete lack of references to it in all the coverage of the nominations, that’s exactly what it is. “Controversy,” phooey.

    ” But if this song is the best the CMAs can come up with then they are irrelevant.”

    Let me invite you to consider the possibility that an awards outcome with which you don’t agree is, in actual fact, nothing more than that. Arbitrarily singling out a particular one and making it the alpha and omega of your evaluation of the awards as a whole is – and your mention of the Grammys underlines the point – silly and short-sighted.

  21. luckyoldsun
    September 5, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    I listened to Isbell’s song twice. For whatever reason, I didn’t really “hear” the lyrics–I can’t remember any of them–so it’s hard for me to judge whether Bentley’s song derrives from it at all. Truthfully, I never heard of Isbell before this, and I have no idea whether Bentley had heard his record.

    As far as Toby Keith: I have no doubt that he was familiar with the Robert Earl Keen’s “Road” song and that he was heavily “inspired” by it–to put it diplomatically–in writing “Bullets”.

    But hey, the upshot is that REK got another great song “The Road Goes On and On” out of it, so everybody benefited!

  22. Adam Sheets
    September 5, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    The song’s lyrics aren’t in question.

  23. Jon
    September 5, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    “The song’s lyrics aren’t in question.”

    Given that Isbell hasn’t said boo about the subject for the better part of a year, I’d say that nothing about it is in question. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s feeling like the whole outburst is better off forgotten – and judging by the apparently complete lack of references to it in all the coverage of the nominations, including any comment by Isbell, that’s exactly what it is.

  24. Adam Sheets
    September 6, 2012 at 1:14 am

    I can’t tell you what has or hasn’t happened or what may happen in the future, but the silence doesn’t mean he wants it to be forgotten. People are often advised to keep silent when a lawsuit is a possibility or especially following an out-of-court settlement.

  25. scooter
    September 6, 2012 at 2:59 am

    I would have liked to have seen Pickler get some recognition for 100 proof in the CMAs.

  26. TX Music Jim
    September 6, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    I can tell you why REK never pursued Toby Keith for “bullets in the gun”. Money, REK does not have the money to pursue a much wealthier artist like Toby Keith. Therefore,he vented in song. He has said as much in interviews. I highly suspect Jason Isabell’s reason’s are similar to REK’s. He vented in his tweet and we may see a song yet and then you move on. That sucks but it is the reality in situations like these.

  27. Jon
    September 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Do you think Arthur Smith was rolling in dough when he successfully sued Warner Communications for credit for and royalties from “Dueling Banjos?” That Benny Martin was better off than Dolly Parton when he successfully went after her for the use of “Me And My Fiddle”‘s melody in “Nine To Five?” That Bright Tunes had more money than George Harrison and his publishing companies when it went after “My Sweet Lord?” Have you talked to Isbell? To Keen (who says in interviews not that he can’t afford to sue Keith, but that he “doesn’t believe in lawsuits”)? Or are you guys just making this stuff up as you go along because it fits some half-baked idea of a morality tale featuring pure-hearted alt.country heroes vs. evil Nashvegas thieves?

    Fact: no lawsuits filed. Until that changes, that’s the end of the story for anyone who doesn’t have some kind of nutty axe to grind.

  28. Adam Sheets
    September 6, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Whether Isbell files a suit or not doesn’t mean anything. It’s estimated that millions of crimes go unreported. Did they not happen? And is the court always right in a plagiarism suit? John Fogerty would probably tell you no.

    The lawsuit isn’t the main thing. It’s the fact that the CMA didn’t look into their nominees closely enough. First of all, they failed to see “Home” as a cheap clone of every song on that subject since “God Bless America” that made no revelations about the subject at hand, was ambiguous to the point of saying exactly nothing, and didn’t have the level of creativity of, let’s say, “Red Solo Cup” (terrible song, but at least it’s an original idea).

    Secondly, they failed to look at the similarities between the song and Jason Isbell’s “In a Razor Town” (which, despite what you say, was covered in publications as mainstream as “Billboard”) and realize that this nomination had a chance of severely backfiring on them and creating controversy.

    “Or are you guys just making this stuff up as you go along because it fits some half-baked idea of a morality tale featuring pure-hearted alt.country heroes vs. evil Nashvegas thieves?”

    I can’t stand the terms “alt. country” or “Americana” and feel that they have transformed country from the diverse mixture of mainstream artists that existed in the ’80s and early ’90s into two styles that are strictly divided into camps of pop vs. traditional, conservative vs. liberal, etc. And now there is no room to be outside the box in either. I listened to the two songs, realized that Isbell’s was released prior to Bentley’s, and drew the only obvious conclusion.

  29. Jon
    September 6, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    That’s a long way of saying yes, you’re making it up as you go along.

  30. Barry Mazor
    September 6, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    IMHO, Home is precisely NOT one more rubber stamped bit of country patriotic bombast, whatever the origin of the tune, but the first reasonable, measured patriotic song I can think of in the field in some time–perhaps since Waylon Jenning’s “America.” That’s just an opinion. But I suspect a number of people share it.

    But on the other hand, Adam, your notion that Americana ( or alt.country) did something to the definition of country is backwards, historically incorrect, and more than a little funny, I’m afraid. These small, fledgling genre efforts went where country no longer would; they’ve had the power to subtract from country labels and charts absolutely nothing the charts and labels wanted for themselves. It’s like saying your surviving neighborhood independent record store is damaging the scope of Walmart.

  31. Adam Sheets
    September 6, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Barry, in the ’80s and early ’90s you had diversity on country radio. Steve Earle, Rosanne Cash, Kentucky Headhunters, Kenny Rogers, Dwight Yoakam, Randy Travis Foster & Lloyd, Rodney Crowell, George Strait, Lacy J. Dalton, Keith Whitley, Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, Marty Stuart, Ronnie Milsap, Earl Thomas Conley, and so on. Today, George and Alan are still hanging in while the rest are either relegated to Americana or the county fair circuit. And since the two genres broke up at some point, both have become increasingly opposed to anybody who doesn’t fit their respective formula. “Kin” is a great album, but ask Rodney Crowell if it’s sold as much as “Diamonds & Dirt.” I feel that the problem with today’s country is that these artists and others who followed in their footsteps stopped trying to market their music to country or get airplay and instead formed another genre that significantly crippled their exposure. Country is country. Terms like “alt.,” “pop,” “outlaw,” etc don’t really mean as much to me as the terms “good” and “bad.”

  32. Barry Mazor
    September 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    “Stopped trying to market their music to country?” Have you got the faintest idea how these things work, or why that might be? That’s got nothing to do with what I or you like or don’t like; it has to do with marketing and the way the music business works–which is no more in Crowwell or Marty Stuart’s or Alan Jackson’s hands than it is yours or mine.

    Rodney Crowefor one, and he’s told me so, is extraordinarily grateful to have a place like the Americana format to go to at this point in his life and career, when country radio has no interest in him as an older guy from another era, and he has no particular interests in fighting that pointlessly.. He’s also very glad that some current country stars record his songs. Which you could look up. Period.

  33. Adam Sheets
    September 6, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    That’s beside the point. Country radio reached perhaps it’s most diverse point in the ’80s and early ’90s. And at the very peak of that somebody decided to start a new genre. So now Steve Earle is “alt. country,” Ricky Skaggs is exclusively “bluegrass” so that he can be disassociated with both, and Taylor Swift is pop country with no redeeming value according to the alt. country crowed. It’s not about “how these things work” it’s about how these things were working before somebody divided it into two warring factions, neither of which allows their artists to cross over in any way, shape, or form.

  34. luckyoldsun
    September 6, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Adam
    “I can tell you why REK never pursued Toby Keith for “bullets in the gun”. Money,…”

    Actually, Keen has said that the reason he didn’t pursue it is that he didn’t feel like spending the next umpteen years of his life in litigation.

    Another reason he didn’t pursue it might be….he likely would have lost. Look, I have no doubt that Keith borrowed from REK’s song. He took from the theme, the attitude and some snippets of language. But the fact is, Keith did write a different song. It has a different melody and different lyrics and the story is different. It’s really not a matter that belongs in court. Keen is a wise man and handled it in a creative way.

  35. Barry Mazor
    September 6, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Your history of somebody sabotaging a diverse country radio chart with a new genre is simply and completely, simply misinformed and incorrect. That IS the point, no matter how many times you repeat yourself as if you’d gleaned something..

    Read something; go back and learn what actually happened, suh,
    if you’re going to represent yourself has having any light to shed but you wish that country was more to diverse still. (As do I and lots of people. And we have a site like this one because lots of people have interests that cross the lines. Not news.) As has been said, you can’t just make this stuff up and expect to be taken seriously at all.

    Americana as a format or organization couldn’t stop anybody from crossing over anywhere if it wanted to, and I doubt that it would want to. Better to take credit for anybody’s expansion. (No doubt you imagine they’re slamming the CMA for daring to nominate the Civil Wars right now. NOT!) How in heck are they supposed to be “preventing’ artists from “crossing over” What does that even mean? ? “You’ll lose your position on the small Americana chart if you go Top Ten Country? What a thereat? Except that no such discussion exists.)

    Many of their artists appear on Triple-A radio, too, some on rock radio, some on bluegrass. And if county radio had a screaming demand for Avett Brothers records, or wanted to beg Steve Earle back, I bet they could, you know, work something out ..

  36. luckyoldsun
    September 6, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    “Home is ……the first reasonable, measured patriotic song I can think of in the field…..perhaps since Waylon Jenning’s ‘America.’”

    Actually, I think Brooks & Dunn deserve a lot of credit in that regard for “Only In America.” It definitely conveyed a unity of city and country that was out of fashion in country music. Heck, it even managed to bring Brooks and Dunn together at a time when they seemed to hate each other’s guts–Brooks got the writing credit and Dunn sang it!

  37. Adam Sheets
    September 6, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    I’ve heard from countless artists that they must choose to market their singles to one format or the other, because once they choose one they are dead to the other. Obviously this doesn’t apply to the Civil Wars because Taylor Swift means huge profits. Plus T-Bone Burnett produced the song so it’s an instant classic (sarcasm).

    The larger point is that there was always been diversity on country radio to some degree until the mid ’90s. You had the Nashville sound and Bakersfield artists being played on the same station. Then in the ’70s, you had Olivia Newton-John alongside Waylon Jennings. Country fans didn’t care where the songs came from or what labels somebody wanted to put on them. They knew what they liked. Now both alt. country and mainstream country are devoted to a specific formula that allows little diversity and even less crossover. And this all happened right after the era when country fans were buying millions of albums by both Garth Brooks and Dwight Yoakam.

  38. Barry Mazor
    September 6, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Good point about Brooks & Dunn..

  39. TX Music Jim
    September 6, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Wow, this got slightly out of hand here. I’m not saying that REK or Isabell are somehow more sactified and holy because they choose not to rail against the so called establishment, in court. I would not have done it either. Why ? Because I’d probably lose. Meanwhile, i’ll peacefully go back to my ALT. country fantsy world and wait for my white hat wearing hero’s to ride into Nashville and take over! We live in a Niche market driven entertainment enviroment. I’m not looking for that to change anytime soon.

  40. nm
    September 6, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    @Adam Sheets: We all remember these things differently. I remember the early ’90s as a period when country radio had become so boring and samey that I had to force myself to listen to it. I would tell myself that if I didn’t hear something that sounded different in 20 minutes I could change the station; I didn’t want to give up on it in case things improved. (Which they did, because it’s all cyclical.) It’s also when older country artists fell out of favor just for being old, which of course had a notable negative impact on diversity.

    My impression from talking to the artist and publicists I know is also different from Adam’s. We may just move in different circles, but I expect there’s also some confirmation bias at work.

  41. Jon
    September 6, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    @Adam Sheets: “I’ve heard from countless artists that they must choose to market their singles to one format or the other, because once they choose one they are dead to the other.”

    Really? Like who?

    @NM: ” It’s also when older country artists fell out of favor just for being old, which of course had a notable negative impact on diversity.”

    Maybe, but if so, it wasn’t the first time. You had a huge turnover in the 50s and 60s, followed by an awful lot of the biggest stars staying big and getting older over the next couple of decades, followed by another huge turnover in the 90s. The difference is that there aren’t very many folks who were big then who are still big now with another 10 or 20 years of hitmaking under their belts. That’s not very cyclical, unfortunately.

  42. Adam Sheets
    September 6, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Most of the artists who have told me that have done so in private conversation and not for official interviews and whatnot. So I can’t elaborate. And I wouldn’t anyway because I would hate to see them end up on the “blacklist” of whichever of the two they have chosen. But I can assure you that this is something I’ve heard from multiple people.

    But since there is no divide between the two, can anybody name me a single instance when the two have successfully crossed over that isn’t connected with either Taylor Swift or a George Clooney movie?

  43. Jon
    September 6, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    “Most of the artists who have told me that have done so in private conversation and not for official interviews and whatnot. So I can’t elaborate.”

    I see. so once again, you have nothing.

  44. Adam Sheets
    September 6, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    There are exactly two cases of the genres interacting with each other. That crossover between the two is, for all intents and purposes, nonexistent. You don’t need a list of artists who feel that way to prove that and I’m not betraying the journalistic standards and repeating information given to me off the record to prove that the artists themselves are aware of that fact.

  45. nm
    September 6, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    “it wasn’t the first time. You had a huge turnover in the 50s and 60s, followed by an awful lot of the biggest stars staying big and getting older over the next couple of decades, followed by another huge turnover in the 90s. The difference is that there aren’t very many folks who were big then who are still big now”

    True. The rejection of oldsters had happened before. The ’90s seem to have seen a rejection of the old (folks) in a more permanent way. I suppose there’s some correlation there with the growing importance of video, but I’m sure it was way overdetermined.

  46. Adam Sheets
    September 6, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    “The ’90s seem to have seen a rejection of the old (folks) in a more permanent way.”

    Not necessarily. Look into the list of artists who recorded for CMH Records in the 1970s. Many of them were country music royalty just a few decades before and CMH was much smaller than American Recordings or the various labels Waylon recorded for in the ’90s. In fact, I recall seeing new music videos from Waylon on CMT as late as ’96 or ’97.

  47. Jon
    September 6, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Holy cow, talk about bait-and-switch. That there aren’t a lot of folks who enjoy success in both the Americana and country radio formats is something that can be easily seen, but that wasn’t your claim; your claim was that :

    “I’ve heard from countless artists that they must choose to market their singles to one format or the other, because once they choose one they are dead to the other.”

    And you can’t produce anything to support it.

  48. Adam Sheets
    September 6, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    It’s not that I can’t per se. It’s that my ethics won’t allow private conversations to be made public information. If I can get any of them to say this on the record, I’ll be sure to tell you about about it.

  49. Jon
    September 6, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Claiming that anonymous people told you something isn’t exactly a shining example of ethical journalism, pal.

  50. Adam Sheets
    September 6, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Yes, and my comment wasn’t an article or an essay. It was a comment and a small part of a larger conversation. If it were an article, I would either leave that information out or get it on the record. All I was saying is that in my experience of writing about music, I’ve heard several individuals make that claim, none of whom I have any reason to doubt. Until I can get those claims on the record or get a chance to search through what I’ve written to see if any of them are on the record, we’ll simply refer to them as the “Deep Throats” and agree that unless Taylor Swift or George Clooney is involved, crossover between Americana and country doesn’t exist.

  51. Jon
    September 6, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Ah, you don’t feel a need to be ethical when you’re making comments. That figures.

  52. Adam Sheets
    September 6, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    It would have been unethical to name the individuals who had told me something in a private conversation without first gaining their permission and it would have been unethical for a writer to publish that information in an article or essay without the names. Pointing out a fact (that several artists have pointed out something in private conversation that you have said here that you agree with) in a comment section on a site that I do not write for doesn’t qualify. I’m here- as I assume you are- because I enjoy reading the site and I’m a fan of the music. In doing so, I commented that several artists recognize the strong divide between Americana and country and their inability to find success in both. As any observer of the two formats could tell you, that statement is about as controversial as saying “I’ve talked to several artists who have told me that the Earth is round.” Even Barry, in his comment above, stated that Rodney Crowell has been embraced by Americana and can no longer get country airplay. It’s no giant revelation, it’s just a matter of when and in what context these conversations took place that doesn’t grant me the right to give you a list of names.

  53. Mike McCall
    September 7, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Adam–A more reasoned look at the history of the country charts will show you that radio moved away from the diversity you liked after the rise of Garth Brooks and the hat acts in the early ’90s. Crowell, your example, spent years continuing to make records that were marketed to country radio but weren’t played. Many of the diverse acts you mentioned didn’t get much airplay in the first place, but by the ’90s, their support by country radio ended.

    Americana rose as a genre because the tighter constraints of country radio left so many credible artists without a format to support them.

    So you have it backwards. Country radio didn’t stop playing the more adventurous artists because they declared themselves Americana. Exactly no one did that. Country radio stopped playing them, and suddenly there was this large group of artists–some with former commmercial success, some with no chance of having ever been mainstream–who had no format where they could plant their flag. Americana took a while to develop as a genre, but now it’s there, and it does provide a genre and some marketing support to iconoclast types who would never get on country radio, as it’s managed today.

    So to say the formation of the Americana format kept all these artists you like from getting on country radio…that’s just not how it came down or why the split exists today. Country radio made that choice, and no amount of label support was going to get Hayes Carll or Robert Earl Keen or Jason Isbell or songs from “Kin” played on contemporary mainstream country radio.

  54. Barry Mazor
    September 7, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Yes. Exactly as Mike McCall explains.

    As for: “Even Barry, in his comment above, stated that Rodney Crowell has been embraced by Americana and can no longer get country airplay” as an alleged summary of what I said, it suggests either problems with this idea called “cause and effect” or with reading comprehension.

    (See: was grateful to have somewhere to go when country radio was no longer, etc.–and as Mike says, it was in fact well after he was no loner on country radio that he turned to a different sort of music, which he wanted to make as a matter of fact, and the Americana format.

    If any artist has actually suggested that they can’t get on country radio because they’ve been on Americana radio, then THEY are simply incorrect!

  55. TX Music Jim
    September 7, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Mike, you make some valid points. The sad part is from a music fan standpoint is, that had Steve Earle not had the mainstream airplay he did back in the day; myself and many others may not have discovered artists like REK, Hayes Carll etc. Case in point in the mid nighties there was a package show at a local amphitheater. The only performer I had ever heard of was Steve Earle. So I bought a Ticket. That night I heard and enjoyed for the first time REK, Reckless Kelly and Jack Ingram. So I credit the shortlived diversity on mainstream country radio for introducing me to a whole new world of music. Hoepfully, with the rise of alternative sources to discover new music and artists outside of mainstream country radio, folks today can be exposed to different options than what if offered on their mainstream country stations. At least I hope so.

  56. nm
    September 7, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    There are a handful of artists who have moved back and forth between the formats* without having overwhelming success in either. My favorite example (because she seems to be completely unfazed by any of the shifts in labeling, and just keeps making the music she wants to make) is Tift Merrit, who started out with the Americana label stuck all over her. Then she got onto a label who pitched her as country, and for a while she was getting attention in both genres (including a Grammy nomination as a country artist along with continued presence on Americana charts), only to find that her lack of commercial success got her cut from the big label and back exclusively in the Americana bin.

    Steve Earle, for another, was being claimed as a country act long after he’d stopped making country records or calling himself a country artist, and even after the hiatus in his career he could be found on both country and Americana charts at the same time. I think it wasn’t until the John Walker Lindh song that country finally gave up on him.

    *as determined by label, radio, etc.

  57. Mike McCall
    September 7, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Jim–I agree wholeheartedly. The great thing about country radio’s broader inclusiveness in the 1980s is it introduced eclectic artists who were able find audiences from that exposure, and continued with that fan base after leaving the conglomerates.

    There was a transitional period in Nashville where good artists like Kelly Willis, the Mavericks, Charlie Robison and others continued to get signed, but by then country radio was moving away from a more open format. Merritt came along at a time when Lost Highway was still holding out hope of exposing valid artists and hoping they could straddle the two genres. There’s a reason Lost Highway closed down.

    Country radio didn’t play Tift much, or Holly Williams and others, not because they came from Americana or had support there. It wouldn’t have mattered. Radio programmers just didn’t embrace anyone slightly offbeat anymore. Playlists are narrower, songs move up and down the charts more slowly, and there’s not much opportunity for those offering something a little different.

    Indeed, during the more open period, labels signed acts who received little radio support–Allison Moorer comes to mind, since we’ve mentioned Earle. Even without the airplay, the support she gained from MCA helped her find at least some fans who connected with her. Carll is the same way–his Universal connection helped him as far as marketing and getting his name out there. But they knew from the start he wasn’t going to make the Top 40 countdown. Americana helped him reach new fans; country radio wouldn’t have done that, even if Americana didn’t exist.

    The problem as the major labels continue to shrink is that less chances are taken on good acts who are a longshot at country radio. That hurts music in general, in my opinion. But it’s also part of the shift away from major-label dominance. The digital age and Internet, and all that comes with it, allow many acts to find an audience. But it’s a tough hill to climb, as it’s always been.

  58. Jon
    September 7, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    “If any artist has actually suggested that they can’t get on country radio because they’ve been on Americana radio, then THEY are simply incorrect!”

    Yep.

  59. Adam Sheets
    September 7, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    “If any artist has actually suggested that they can’t get on country radio because they’ve been on Americana radio, then THEY are simply incorrect!”

    Again, name one example that doesn’t involve Taylor Swift or George Clooney. Say what you want about the inclusiveness of either format, but if the facts aren’t there, they aren’t there. I want proof that there has been any crossover other than those who went Americana (Crowell, Earle, Yoakam, etc) once the genre formed. If nobody can name one, the conversation is pointless.

  60. Jack Williams
    September 7, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    “Again, name one example that doesn’t involve Taylor Swift or George Clooney. Say what you want about the inclusiveness of either format, but if the facts aren’t there, they aren’t there. I want proof that there has been any crossover other than those who went Americana (Crowell, Earle, Yoakam, etc) once the genre formed. If nobody can name one, the conversation is pointless.”

    Incredible. You’re the one responsible for the conversation and now that you don’t think you’re getting the exact answer you want to the question that you yourself posed, you seem to think you’ve proved your point and declare the conversation pointless. Your question is not that profound. Just because no Americana artist has crossed over to mainstream country does not mean that this hasn’t happened because of some ban country radio has in place for anyone ever labeled as an Americana artist. That is the claim you seem to be making. And now you want proof that your claim isn’t true. It’s like asking someone to prove that God doesn’t exist.

  61. Jon
    September 7, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Dierks Bentley.

    But really, you’re missing the point. You’re like a rooster who thinks that, because he crows every morning when the sun rises, it’s his crowing that causes the sunrise. Please see Barry’s comment about cause and effect and think very, very hard about it.

  62. Jon
    September 7, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Exactly, Jack; it’s that pesky “because” that Adam’s asserting that everyone’s questioning.

  63. Adam Sheets
    September 7, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Jon, as somebody else stated the whole thing is cyclical. Only it isn’t anymore. It’s true that country was focused on Garth Brooks and the acts who followed in his stead after the early ’90s. So what? Country focused on the Nashville sound after Jim Reeves, Eddy Arnold, and Patsy Cline. The Bakersfield artists didn’t start their own genre. They made their music, marketed it to country music, and eventually the cycle came back around in their favor and their biggest star ended up hosting “Hee Haw.” That can’t happen now because the cycle will never come back around to Steve Earle or Dwight Yoakam’s side, the younger “Americana” acts will never find a larger audience and country radio is focused on nothing but one style of country music. Why is that? Because alt. country didn’t do things the way they have always been done. They weren’t Buck Owens or Willie Nelson making music that was different but still called country. They created something called Americana that has it’s own (minor) audience. If country radio doesn’t want anything to do with them, who can blame them? After all, they made their bed and they can sleep in it. Sorry to be blunt, but that’s the way it is. There is no more cycles. There is no more, “I’m going to make my music and someday somebody may like it and may be on top.” There are two distinct, separate and unequal genres and that is totally a result of the possibly well-intentioned people who failed to think this move through.

  64. Jon
    September 7, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Well, no, NM didn’t say that “the whole thing is cyclical.” She made a very specific point about cyclical acceptance/rejection of older artists, which is most certainly not the whole thing.

    As for the rest, I’m sorry, but I have neither the time nor the energy nor – obviously – the patience to deal with such a massively bizarre account of country music history that I, and Barry, and NM, and Mike, among others, observed and documented (and, in some cases, took an active part in) while it was happening, dished up by someone who didn’t. You can be as blunt as you want to in claiming that the reason big-time country radio largely sticks to a small handful of artists is “because alt. country didn’t do things the way they have always been done,” but that doesn’t make it true. If you’re really interested in the truth of the matter, I’d advise you to spend less time spinning theories and more time listening to folks who know what they’re talking about. Because you very clearly don’t. Sorry to be blunt, but that’s the way it is.

  65. Barry Mazor
    September 7, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Unfortunately Adam, you have proved conclusively that this conversation IS pointless.

  66. Adam Sheets
    September 7, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Spin it however you like.

    FACT #1: diversity disappeared from the airwaves around the same time that another format appeared to that specialized in a certain kind of country music.

    FACT #2: This format was eventually called Americana. Not Americana country, not anything else. Therefore, since it was not marketed as country, country stations did not and do not have any obligation to play these artists or even consider playing them if they do not wish to do so. Likewise, the Americana format has no obligation to play somebody like Jamey Johnson because, well, he uses the word country to label his music.

    FACT #3: NM said, “. I would tell myself that if I didn’t hear something that sounded different in 20 minutes I could change the station; I didn’t want to give up on it in case things improved. (Which they did, because it’s all cyclical.)”

    In my opinion (which is just that) neither format is representative of the full spectrum of country music these days because country has always been a very diverse genre. There have always been pop country artists, traditional-minded artists and artists who were progressive and pushed the envelope even further. Now both formats suffer because neither are as good without the music the other brings to the table.

    In my opinion, it’s clear that Americana began with good intentions and many of the people involved undoubtedly believe strongly in what they were doing. It was a way of not having to contend with folks like Garth Brooks and Shania Twain. However, it is all cyclical (or used to be) and if they would have waited, perhaps getting some songs in the bottom reaches of the Billboard charts along the way, they would have seen that Garth’s retirement and Shania’s disappearance from the chart left them with an opening and could have brought diversity back to the airwaves. No conspiracy theory there, just shortsightedness on the part of certain labels, artists, and PR folks.

    Also, in my opinion (which is, again, based on what I’ve heard from various people inside the industry) there is no chance of crossover between the two. Most people here have agreed with that. This is also a result of the labeling of genres, in my opinion. To use one example, do you wonder why Aaron Lewis can get played on country radio and Dwight Yoakam can’t? It’s marketing. Lewis released a “country” album and Yoakam released an “Americana” album.

    This isn’t a fact, of course. It’s my opinion based on listening to artists supported by both formats, reading everything I can on the subject, and simply listening to the music in question. But, while an opinion, I feel that it makes far more sense than defending a minor radio format that has had exactly two crossover hits in over 20 years and has severely limited the exposure the artists get.

    Steve Earle, while still being considered a country artist had a top 10 single on the rock charts. Has he even come close to that on either rock or country since Americana’s founding?

  67. Adam Sheets
    September 7, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    “I think it wasn’t until the John Walker Lindh song that country finally gave up on him.”

    No double standard there? Steve Earle was a highly successful country artist who could have been considered a veteran at that time. The same can be said for Hank Jr. and Charlie Daniels, who, while holding opposite political views, also had no significant presence on the country charts at the time and, like Earle, always had some rock influences in their music. Why weren’t they embraced by Americana? That’s not just Americana’s problem of course. We all remember the Dixie Chicks boycott. The point here (not directly related to anything else I’ve said) is that the time when “The Fightin’ Side of Me” and “Man in Black” could be played side by side is also, unfortunately, long past.

  68. luckyoldsun
    September 7, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    Adam’s point or assertion–that artists who idendify as Americana are not likely to be played on country radio–does not strike me as so outlandish or objectionable that everybody above should be having such a conniption over it. It’s probably true. Just as an artist who identified as gay or atheist or Wiccan would probably reduce his chances of getting on country radio.

    On the other hand, I think you’re wrong Adam in suggesting that the existence of Americana is somehow a negative for artists in that it keeps them from getting played on mainstream country. I think it’s a pretty good bet that the overwhelming majority of those artist wouldn’t get played on country radio anyway. The rise of Americana is definitely a net positive for the artists in the format.

    And it strikes me as naive to think that country radio would be “diverse”–as it might have been for a time in the ’60s or ’80s–but for some mistake that someone-or-other is making.

    It’s a completely different world now, with so many more options for sources of entertainment. The target youth market that listens to country radio or watches the videos is not going to listen to or watch Rodney Crowell. Or Marty Stuart. Or Gene Watson. Or Connie Smith. Or Don Williams. Or whoever else some people around here have been saying belong on the radio. They’ll just click a button and tune in something else.

  69. Jack Williams
    September 8, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    “To use one example, do you wonder why Aaron Lewis can get played on country radio and Dwight Yoakam can’t? It’s marketing. Lewis released a “country” album and Yoakam released an “Americana” album. ”

    According to Don Mcleese’s book “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere”, country radio started ignoring Dwight after the release of his “Gone” album in 1995, after embracing the music on his most commerically successful and artistically adventurous album “This Time” in 1993. Seems Dwight pushed the artistic envelope a litte too far.

  70. Adam Sheets
    September 8, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    @Jack- I read the book and enjoyed it, but the commercial failure of “Gone” doesn’t really prove anything except that the cycle had gone back around to something else. Everybody from Johnny Cash to Alan Jackson have had points in their career where sales were a little slow. Dwight had released five albums and a greatest hits disc before “Gone” and it was released around the same time that Garth and Shania were heating up. Eventually they fell out of favor as well. It happens to everybody.

    @Luckyoldsun- I can’t disagree with much of that. Americana is potentially better for the artists (although I think many of them would be able to get jobs in some capacity in the music business), but I question whether it’s really better for the fans. Less is more, in my opinion. I’d rather have 10 albums released on labels that are known for quality than having to sort through thousands of them because there is no longer any quality control and anybody can release an album. But that’s just a minor point.

    As for the rest of it, I agree that the internet will eventually take over. But as of right now, country is still the largest musical radio format in the U.S. I’m not implying that Steve Earle or Rodney Crowell would still be superstars if they had hung around in country. They would probably be following in the footsteps of all veterans since the genre began, getting a minor hit here and there, but not much more. But I do think that by sticking around they would have consistently charted songs on the lower reaches of the charts (which still means more sales than an Americana hit), perhaps mounted a comeback at some point, and inspired the major labels to sign other (younger) artists like them which, combined with people like Taylor Swift, would have made the format a lot more interesting and diverse.

  71. nm
    September 8, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    “Adam’s point or assertion–that artists who idendify as Americana are not likely to be played on country radio….”

    That’s not Adam’s assertion; if it were, I don’t think we’d be having this conversation. Adam’s assertion is (1) that there is an absolute division between artists identified as “country” and artists who are identified as “Americana (with the exception of artists associated with George Clooney or Taylor Swift) and (2) that this absolute division is the result of mutual blackballing by country and Americana radio (and, I think, labels — he’s not too clear on this point). He has, more recently in the discussion, added (3) that the development of Americana as a genre has interfered with some cyclical return of older artists to the country charts and playlists. I’ve said what I have to say about the first two points and see no purpose in repeating myself. With regard to his third point, I think that he again has confused cause and effect; to me, it seems that the existence of alt-country and the emergence of Americana as a defined genre gave stars who had aged out of country a new home, without which they would not still be visible in any genre.

    “FACT #3: NM said, ‘. I would tell myself that if I didn’t hear something that sounded different in 20 minutes I could change the station; I didn’t want to give up on it in case things improved. (Which they did, because it’s all cyclical.)’”

    The “all” refers to everything sounding the same contrasted with a variety of sounds, as should completely clear from the context of the sentence quoted. The same/various cycle, in all genres of music, is real (to my ears).

    “No double standard there?”

    I have read this paragraph any number of times and still can’t figure out what it is about, or how it fits into the conversation.

  72. Adam Sheets
    September 8, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    “With regard to his third point, I think that he again has confused cause and effect; to me, it seems that the existence of alt-country and the emergence of Americana as a defined genre gave stars who had aged out of country a new home, without which they would not still be visible in any genre.”

    You’re missing the point. At the time of Americana’s foundation some of the artists I named had in no way “aged out of country.” Most of them were in their 30s at the time. And I also stated that most of them wouldn’t exactly be racking up the hits today even if they had stuck around, because new artists would have taken over in that regard. And of course there may still have been an occasional hit, much like Kenny Rogers had with “Buy Me a Rose.”

    As for these artists not being visible without Americana, I have to disagree. While it’s true that with Americana they are superstars of their own little world, there still aren’t nearly as many people buying their albums as those who buy albums by artists at the bottom of the country charts which is where some of them would be had they hung around.

  73. Adam Sheets
    September 8, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Also, the use of your quote was related to Jon’s misinterpretation of it. I understood it completely.

  74. nm
    September 8, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    “Also, the use of your quote was related to Jon’s misinterpretation of it. I understood it completely.”

    I said that in the early ’90s I found the sounds on country radio boringly samey, but that I hung in there waiting for them to become more varied again, which (IMO) they have done. You ignore all of that and say that I meant that there had been some cyclical pattern in country radio that has been interrupted or broken since the ’90s. That doesn’t demonstrate complete understanding, since it’s pretty much the opposite of what I said.

    I think that your perception that there has been a significant change in what is considered to be “country music” over the last 15 or 20 years is correct. (Of course, there have been similarly large changes in the music over any 15 or 20 year period.) But when you say that charts and genre identification created the change, or even were the most important factors in creating it, you’re ignoring all the social changes, demographic changes, technological changes, impact of other genres, and on and on, that IMO were among the causes of changes that charts and genres reflect. And when you make statements about genres blackballing each others’ artists, you’re just being silly. So I think I’m going to bow out of my share of this conversation; it’s starting to demonstrate a certain unpleasantly cyclical quality of its own.

  75. luckyoldsun
    September 8, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Seems to me you have Americana artists who apparently make a good living touring and putting out music for decades. I buy CDs by Rodney Crowell, Dale Watson, Robert Earl Keen, Cory Morrow, etc. and they don’t seem to be hurting.

    On the other hand, a lot of mainstream country artists–even “superstars” who “age out” of radio favor are unable to get their new music out at all. They typically seem to sign with some upstart label that then goes bankrupt amid all sorts of recriminations and then they’re in court fighting over it for years. (I.E. Clint Black, Travis Tritt, Sammy Kershaw–Are these guys still making music??)

  76. Adam Sheets
    September 8, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    “I said that in the early ’90s I found the sounds on country radio boringly samey, but that I hung in there waiting for them to become more varied again, which (IMO) they have done. You ignore all of that and say that I meant that there had been some cyclical pattern in country radio that has been interrupted or broken since the ’90s.”

    I understood what you said and although I disagree that it has turned back around, I’m not putting words in your mouth. I simply pointed out that I don’t feel things have turned around. Jon stated you were referring only to veteran artists, which of course you were not.

  77. Adam Sheets
    September 8, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    “Clint Black, Travis Tritt, Sammy Kershaw–Are these guys still making music??”

    Not sure if they are or not, but I think the number of fans who come to their shows as compared to your average Americana concert would surprise you.

  78. Adam Sheets
    September 8, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    “And when you make statements about genres blackballing each others’ artists, you’re just being silly”

    While everybody seems to agree with this statement, nobody seems to be able to prove me wrong. There are two examples of them crossing over in more than 20 years. Correct?

  79. nm
    September 8, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    No, Adam, incorrect. We’ve given you a large number of additional examples. You ignore them. That’s what I mean about depressing circularity. If you have nothing new to say, I’m done.

  80. Adam Sheets
    September 8, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    I’ve seen no additional examples. I’ve seen examples of artists who have TRIED to find success in both, none who have actually done so. As you said yourself above, “There are a handful of artists who have moved back and forth between the formats without having overwhelming success in either.” Meanwhile, Lionel Richie has found success in country. Kid Rock host the CMT Awards. Snoop Dogg is up for a CMA Award and the lead singer from Staind just released a country album and the guy from Hootie and the Blowfish has several of them. In short, it seems that country is working with every format except Americana, because, in my opinion, they view Americana artists as defectors.

  81. Barry Mazor
    September 8, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    The lack of artist success you harp on, sir, has nothing to do with the existence two formats, and neither does the impossibility of these people to score on 2012 Country radio, about, as far as I can tell, you known nada.

    Country radio did not expel or blackball Americana artists; it defined itself, as a small chunk of huge corporations, as the format meant to capture interest of, in particular, the once famous soccer moms., The typical attendee at CMA 2012 was a married woman with an income in the 6 figures–not exactly the Southern white working class. The owners of these enterprises have no interest in young men because they already own radio stations where the same guys engage in pointless but excited sports talk all day long. It has nothing whatsoever in any way to do with Americana, about which, being small potatoes in their corporate estimation, they could care less in any way.

    If you don’t know these things, your opinion is interesting maybe, but not as interesting as you keep on figuring, regardless of how knowledgeable the people who are bothering to answer you may be. (You might look up who Mike McCall is, for instance.)

    Many many of us wish country radio was more encompassing of what we love. In Nashville, and online everywhere, at wsmonline.com, we have 650 WSM to be the station you imagine. It exists. Thanks you Eddie Stubbs and Bill Cody, et al. Enough of this nonsense..

  82. Adam Sheets
    September 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Barry, you are 100% correct about the Nashville industry courting soccer moms. What I am saying is that could have, in all likelihood, been just another trend (like the urban cowboy thing) had certain artists who jumped on the Americana bandwagon stuck it out. Of course, that is just a theory and can’t be proven simply because it didn’t happen. They left the genre, continued to exist in a much smaller market that has nowhere near the radio presence of country, and the traditional country audience likely had little chance to actually hear these artists, not because they weren’t making great music but simply because they were marketing it to somebody else.

    Would the Americana artists have been able to compete with Garth, Shania and Billy Ray? Who knows? All I know is that George Strait and Alan Jackson are pretty traditional and they seemed to do ok during that period and seem to still be doing pretty good today. In my opinion, they probably would have had to deal with slightly lower sales for a few years, but the cycle would have eventually went the other way and at the very least the corporate influences would have compromised and been willing to take the money of two groups rather than just one.

    Can I prove that this would have been the case? Of course not. But since it didn’t happen, nobody can really prove that it wouldn’t have been.

  83. Adam Sheets
    September 8, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    Anyway…I’ve spoken my piece on this and unless I somehow come across information that changes my view, I will still blame the existence of a dividing line for the lack of diversity in both formats. Until then, you all know how I feel.

    For the record, this whole discussion began when I stated my belief (which is shared by many others) that Dierk Bentley’s song “Home” is possibly a ripoff of a Jason Isbell song and was subsequently accused of being some sort of Americana loyalist. If nothing else, I think I’ve proven that not to be the case.

  84. Jon
    September 8, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    “While everybody seems to agree with this statement, nobody seems to be able to prove me wrong.”

    Your idea of discussion is that you make unsubstantiated claims about subjects on which you have no expertise and of which you have no experience, and then it’s up to others to disprove them? That’s pathetic.

  85. Adam Sheets
    September 8, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    “Your idea of discussion is that you make unsubstantiated claims about subjects on which you have no expertise and of which you have no experience, and then it’s up to others to disprove them? That’s pathetic.”

    If the claims were unsubstantiated they should have easily been disproved.

  86. Barry Mazor
    September 8, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    I can’t prove that the pink elephant in tights you keep dreaming about is unreal either, but on the other hand, I have no reason to waste further breath trying. After you look into cause and effect, you can look into prove and disprove.

  87. Adam Sheets
    September 9, 2012 at 12:07 am

    Cause and effect really has little to do with it. Yes, there were causes and effects for country’s soccer mom phase that started in the mid-’90s, but regardless of what caused it and what it’s effects were at the time, there was no excuse to begin a new genre because of it. No trend in country music history has ever held mainstream attention much more than 5 to 10 years, whether it was rockabilly, the Nashville sound, Bakersfield sound, outlaw country, urban cowboy, etc. There was no reason for this one to have lasted as long as it has except that all of the alternatives who could have risen to the top when people began to grow bored with it (as they did, pre-Taylor Swift) had drifted off to another, less visible market.

  88. Barry Mazor
    September 9, 2012 at 10:22 am

    We await your dissertation on how establishing bluegrass ruined country previously. Also rockabilly. Oh, and how establishing country ruined pop.

  89. Adam Sheets
    September 9, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Barry, rockabilly lasted two to three years and put songs by Elvis, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis high on the country charts at that time. Afterward, it disappeared from public view for the most part until the late ’70s or early ’80s when it came back in revival form with the help of punk rockers.

    It seems to me that the real question is being avoided. Is country less diverse because they went after the soccer mom audience or because artists trying to make it in the music business these know what country is and what Americana is and know which side they fall on? Jamey Johnon is one example of somebody who probably would be an Americana superstar if he’d have knocked on doors on the other side of the track. That alone proves that the major labels are willing to take chances, but Jamey can’t do it alone. There has to be a full-fledged effort by the Americana establishment to promote some of their core artists to country radio.

  90. Barry Mazor
    September 9, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Thanks for filling me in, Adam. I had no idea.

    Sorry, but I’m tired of this Sheets.

  91. Adam Sheets
    September 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    On that we find ourselves in agreement. I’m not going to change anybody’s mind and barring new information, nobody will change mine. I’ll keep listening to the good stuff in mainstream country and the good stuff in Americana and wish I didn’t have to change stations to hear both, as was the case at one point.

  92. Jon
    September 9, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    “…I’ll keep listening to the good stuff in mainstream country and the good stuff in Americana and wish I didn’t have to change stations to hear both, as was the case at one point.”

    But this has been utter nonsense for at least 50 years, since western swing, old time string band music, bluegrass and other, “rootsier” (for lack of a better term) forms of country disappeared from mainstream country radio. Which, in turn, led to – at least in bluegrass’s case, which is the reason why it’s still a viable (albeit small) industry today where the others largely aren’t – the development of alternate venues, radio shows & stations, publications, etc. that delivered them to fans.

    And that’s pretty much what happened with Americana, which – as those of us who were around at the time know – was developed as a response to the narrowing down of radio playlists and other changes in the radio world (like, for instance, deregulation of ownership) that led to the disappearance from mainstream country radio of a considerable range of artists.

    Them are facts, and if anyone interested in the subject cares to learn about them, he or she can consult a variety of publications from sources like the Country Music Foundation, which have from time to time hired knowledgeable people like Mike and Barry (and, for a while, myself) to research and write about them.

    Research, as in looking at actual data, instead of making unsubstantiated claims like, for instance:

    “…with Americana they are superstars of their own little world, there still aren’t nearly as many people buying their albums as those who buy albums by artists at the bottom of the country charts…”

    Now, that is a quantitative statement, about numbers. Does Adam Sheets have them? He does not. Will he produce them? He will not. Does his finely honed sense of ethics cause him to worry in the least about that? It does not.

    Virtually everything about Adam’s line of argument, from the quantitative claims that contain no quantities to the speculation (“would have…could have”) dished up as though it were fact, to the ethically bankrupt tactic of claiming support from unnamed sources, to the cartoonish view of country music history, is off the mark, and virtually all of it is dished up in a “I’m saying this is so, and it’s not up to me to show why and how it is, it’s up to everyone else to prove I’m wrong” form that is intellectually bankrupt and, when it comes to someone who represents himself to be a journalist, particularly reprehensible.

    Like Barry says, I’m tired of this Sheets.

  93. Adam Sheets
    September 9, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    I attempted to end the discussion, but I can see that you’re the type that has to have the last word so…

    “But this has been utter nonsense for at least 50 years, since western swing, old time string band music, bluegrass and other, “rootsier” (for lack of a better term) forms of country disappeared from mainstream country radio.”

    Western swing disappeared around the time the swing era ended and, like rockabilly, has only stayed around because of veteran artists from that time and later revival acts, including Asleep at the Wheel who had a radio presence long after Western swing allegedly disappeared from the radio.

    As for bluegrass, I don’t think it’s ever had mainstream popularity to the extent of certain subgenres, so it really doesn’t belong in the same discussion.

    “Virtually everything about Adam’s line of argument, from the quantitative claims that contain no quantities to the speculation (“would have…could have”) dished up as though it were fact, to the ethically bankrupt tactic of claiming support from unnamed sources, to the cartoonish view of country music history, is off the mark, and virtually all of it is dished up in a “I’m saying this is so, and it’s not up to me to show why and how it is, it’s up to everyone else to prove I’m wrong” form that is intellectually bankrupt and, when it comes to someone who represents himself to be a journalist, particularly reprehensible.”

    At the same time, your entire line of argument seems to consist of little more than ad hominem attacks and a complete lack of facts to back them up.

    I’m not saying any of my theory is correct. I am saying that nothing is as black and white as “They couldn’t get played so they started a new genre.” As I already stated, Alan Jackson and George Strait were both highly successful during that period and, like Dwight Yoakam, were throwbacks to the country music of an earlier era. One went to Americana and two stuck with country. Two are still on radio and one isn’t. You can do the math.

    You talk about the narrowing of country radio playlists as if those two guys do not exist, as if Jamey Johnson does not exist, and, yes, as if the whole “O Brother Where Art Thou” thing didn’t happen. Curb Records even signed Hank Williams 3 (the ultimate soccer mom poster child, right?) and it’s my understanding that they aren’t in the habit of signing people who they expect to be commercial failures. You may say that they only signed him for the legacy his name represents without knowing what sort music he would make, but if that’s true then soccer moms must idolize Hank Sr. and Hank Jr. as well.

    In short, I believe country IS interested in diversity again, but most of the artists who feel the same way are so full of anti-Music Row hatred that they would rather stick with a much smaller format where they are guaranteed a certain “status”.

  94. Studio B
    September 9, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    “I’m not saying any of my theory is correct.”

    Finally, a comment from Adam Sheets that we can all agree with.

  95. luckyoldsun
    September 9, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    “Alan Jackson and George Strait were both highly successful during that period and, like Dwight Yoakam, were throwbacks to the country music of an earlier era. One went to Americana and two stuck with country…”

    Adam,
    Did you consider that these people may be artists, not just suppliers of product to radio?
    Maybe, as some point, Dwight Yoakam did not feel comfortable trying to create records that fit the formula of what country radio was looking for at the time. Maybe he just felt a need to move his sound in a different direction.

  96. Adam Sheets
    September 9, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    “Maybe, as some point, Dwight Yoakam did not feel comfortable trying to create records that fit the formula of what country radio was looking for at the time. Maybe he just felt a need to move his sound in a different direction.”

    What was country radio looking for at the time? By saying he was wanting to move his sound in a different direction are you saying that hit records by Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson (who actually spoke out against the soccer mom demographic with “Gone Country”), Shania Twain, Vince Gill, Travis Tritt, the Kentucky Headhunters, Tracy Lawrence, Reba McEntire, Alison Krauss (top 5 hit in 1995) and Aaron Tippin were all headed in the same direction? Dwight’s music was never really your typical pop country in the first place, so he had already moved away from elements he probably didn’t care for.

    And of course I’m not saying that all these artists should be nothing more than suppliers of radio hits. I look to Emmylou Harris in the ’70s and ’80s as a perfect example of how to balance very artistic albums with an occasional hit single. For that matter, Willie’s version of “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” was a very unconventional hit single from an even less conventional album. There are ways to balance art and success and seeing as how George Strait’s latest album is probably the best he’s made in 15 years and has also produced two top 10 singles for him (at age 60), I’d say he has found it.

  97. Jeremy Dylan
    September 9, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    I’m too old for this Sheets.

  98. Jon
    September 9, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    “…Alan Jackson (who actually spoke out against the soccer mom demographic with “Gone Country”)…”

  99. luckyoldsun
    September 9, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Whenever I hear “Gone Country,” I always feel like the song is missing something. Jackson sets the table describing various pop artists who’ve “gone country,” and I’m then expecting him to throw in some words of wisdom or commentary about whether that’s a good or bad thing. But he voices no opinion at all.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if Bob McDill had more to say about it, but it didn’t make the record.

  100. Jon
    September 9, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Sorry, missed a *facepalm* there on the hilarious misrepresentation of “Gone Country.”

    “Whenever I hear “Gone Country,” I always feel like the song is missing something. Jackson sets the table describing various pop artists who’ve “gone country,””…

    Uh, no. They’re not “various pop artists.”

    “… and I’m then expecting him to throw in some words of wisdom or commentary about whether that’s a good or bad thing. But he voices no opinion at all.”

    And that rates its own *facepalm*.

  101. Adam Sheets
    September 9, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    I can see how it could be a little ambiguous, especially the chorus, but there’s no question in my mind that he’s not really seeing the infiltration as a good thing.

    A few key lines: “She’s been readin’ about Nashville and all the records that everybody’s buyin’/Says ‘I’m a simple girl myself grew up on Long Island’”

    That line screams carpetbagger. She has no intention of going country until she reads about people buying country records.

    “I hear down there it’s changed you see/They’re not as backward as they used to be”

    Meaning this person wishes to play country music without embracing the culture it historically existed within.

    “…The pop scene just ain’t on the rally/and he says ‘Honey I’m a serious composer schooled in voice and composition….”

    Obviously a person who sees composing country music as somehow being below him, but who will happily cash in on the latest trends.

  102. Adam Sheets
    September 9, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Two other examples that must be mentioned are the movie “Pure Country” where George Strait began by portraying a programmed pop country crossover star (the type of guy soccer moms gravitate towards) who ends up morphing into George Strait. In the movie he delivers several lines about the music losing it’s way, etc.

    Several years later, George and Alan actually teamed up at country’s biggest awards show to perform the song “Music on Murder Row,” which left no question on where they stood regarding the issue.

    Yet, all these years later, both men are still enjoying a level of success that guys decades younger could only dream of. In my opinion, that makes it clear to me that the case for Nashville limiting the types of music that gets on playlists, forcing out people with different attitudes and opinions on the direction the music should be headed, and discriminating against older artists is, if not 100% wrong, at least vastly embellished.

  103. luckyoldsun
    September 10, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Glad to get the Great One worked up again. I was starting to worry–It had been several weeks since I was the beneficiary of one of his passive-aggressive , cryptic, incomprehensible, smug, condescending, insults.

  104. Jeremy Dylan
    September 10, 2012 at 8:27 am

    A quote from Jackson:

    “Bob McDill wrote this and he is one of my favorite writers of all time. When I first heard this song I fell in love with it. I wish that I’d written it cause it says a lot of things that I’d like to say. I think it’s just a fun song actually, celebrating how country music has become more widespread and accepted by all types of people all over the country.”

  105. nm
    September 10, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Wait, Alan Jackson spoke out against soccer moms? How did I miss that? Is Adam Sheets really a Poe?

  106. Adam Sheets
    September 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Another quote from Jackson:

    “Bob McDill wrote the “Gone Country” song. When I first heard it, I just loved the chorus. In the chorus, you can’t pick up on that jabbing the industry, as you talk about, but the verses definitely do. I liked what it said at the time because it was true. That’s kind of the way I felt because at the time, in the early ’90s when country got so hot and we were selling a lot of albums, everybody started coming to country. And I guess that’s just natural. It could happen if it had been any kind of music. A lot of times, country seems to get the cold shoulder, and when the money started coming in, it didn’t. That’s what Bob tells me he felt when he wrote that. The fans didn’t care. They just liked the chorus.”

  107. TX Music Jim
    September 10, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    You know what at the end of the day i’m just glad I have choices. We have two mainstream country staions in my area and 2 stations that concentrate full time on Texas/ Red Dirt Americana music. We even one that focuses on classic country. I have a network of clubs in my area that book mainstream country, Texas/ Red Dirt and Americana acts. I have the luxury of choice. Not everyone does in other parts of the country. So the rise of the Texas/Red Dirt Americana scene has truly made a real difference in my market in terms of choices. Heck, even the two mainstream country staions both have weekly Texas/Red Dirt focused shows.

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