The Year in Review: Top 20 Country Music News Stories of 2007
The 9513 began as a country music news site. During the past year we have diversified our content but daily news roundups remain popular among our readers. Thus, it’s only fitting that our Year in Review series for 2007 ends with a roundup of the year’s top country music news stories.
20. Sammy Kershaw’s Troubles. I suppose that the end of another Lorrie Morgan marriage is hardly newsworthy anymore, but add that to the accusations of scandal engendered by Kershaw’s failed run for Lieutenant Governor and the bankruptcy of his record label and you have one bad year.
19. Dale Watson Calls for the Creation of “Ameripolitan.” Disgusted with the pop sound of modern country radio and fearful that country music could not survive under that name, Texas artist Dale Watson ignited a controversy by suggesting that “country” is now synonymous with “crap” and proposing to reorganize the surviving traditional country music in a new genre called “Ameripolitan.”
18. Miranda Lambert Becomes the New Critics’ Darling. Miranda Lambert is among my favorite current artists and I noticed surprisingly strong cross-genre critical support congealing around Kerosene. What I did not foresee was the widespread praise for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: many cross-genre publications included Miranda’s sophomore album as the only country album on their year-end “best of” lists and Miranda even landed near the top of some. I don’t deny that Miranda deserves the praise, but I can think of many other country artists who are equally or even more deserving of such acclaim. Our own Jim Malec went further and suggested that Miranda Lambert is overrated.
17. Faith Hill Introduces Lori McKenna to the World. Lori McKenna was already respected among fans of obscure singer-songwriter material, but recording of her songs by Sara Evans and Faith Hill brought her to the attention of the Nashville establishment and the mainstream country audience. The result was a critically-acclaimed major-label debut, an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show and a spot on the Soul2SoulII Tour.
16. Vince Gill and Mel Tillis Join Country Music Hall of Fame. Some viewed Tillis’ induction as overdue while Gill’s induction was widely seen as surprisingly early but not undeserved. The Country Music Association’s decision to not recognize the inductees during the CMA Awards ignited controversy and was strongly criticized by our own Brady Vercher.
15. Keith Urban Returns from Rehab. Keith Urban was Sara Evan’s tabloid co-star as celebwatchers speculated about how his rehab stint would affect his music and marriage to actress Nicole Kidman.
14. Sara Evans’ Divorce Finalized. Shocking allegations made by Sara Evans and ex-husband Craig Schelske during their divorce proceedings became tabloid fodder in late 2006 and didn’t let up until the couple’s divorce was finalized in late September 2007.
13. Billy Joe Shaver Arrested in Shooting Incident. Outlaw Billy Joe Shaver was arrested in connection with a bar shooting. Accounts of the events were somewhat contradictory, but our own Brody Vercher did a good job of reconciling the evidence.
12. Stars Plan Crossover Albums. Jewel, Beyonce and Jessica Simpson announced their plans to record country albums while The Eagles and Bon Jovi released their crossover projects.
11. Last of the Breed Tour Together. Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Ray Price collaborated to stage an historic sold-out tour and record a two-disc collection of classic and original music.
10. Three Invited to Join Grand Ole Opry. After a long membership drought, the Grand Ole Opry extended membership invitations to Mel Tillis, Josh Turner and Charlie Daniels.
9. Stonewall Jackson Sues Grand Ole Opry. Dissatisfied with the infrequency of his Opry appearances and concerned for his financial survival, Grand Ole Opry star Stonewall Jackson alleged age discrimination in a lawsuit he filed against the Opry. Charlie Louvin supported Jackson’s complaint and a number of high-profile news stories left fans trying to reconcile Jackson’s accusations with the gray hairs that regularly grace the Opry stage.
8. Hank Thompson Passes. Country Music Hall of Famer Hank Thompson died of lung cancer only a few days after announcing his retirement. The 9513 reader Paul W. Dennis called the “Wild Side of Life” singer “the most consistently listenable artist that the genre has ever produced.”
7. Johnny Cash’s Former Home Destroyed by Fire. The legendary home of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, made famous most recently by the film Walk the Line, was destroyed by fire during renovation work undertaken by the home’s new owner, former Bee Gee Barry Gibb.
6. Sales in Decline. Like the rest of the music industry, country music was mired in a deep sales slump, with disappointing album sales and slowed growth in digital sales.
5. Porter Wagoner’s Comeback. One year removed from a nearly fatal medical crisis, Country Music Hall of Famer Porter Wagoner recorded a new album with producer Marty Stuart. The album was critically acclaimed and resulted in Porter performing on national television, opening for Jack White at Madison Square Garden, and being invited to light the National Christmas Tree by President Bush.
4. Taylor Swift’s Multiplatinum Success. One of the industry’s few commercial bright spots was strong sales of Taylor Swift’s debut album, which reached multiplatinum status on the strength of singles like “Teardrops on My Guitar.” Our own Ben Cisneros analyzed Taylor Swift’s impact on country music.
3. Garth Brooks’ Comeback. After years of semi-retirement, Garth Brooks took a significant step towards a comeback with the release of a Greatest Hits package, a number one single and several sold-out concerts in Kansas City.
2. Country Sweeps the Grammys. The Dixie Chicks may not wish to be considered country anymore, but they combined with Carrie Underwood to give the genre an unprecedented sweep of the major Grammy categories.
1. Porter Wagoner Passes. Nashville mourned and held a public funeral at the Grand Ole Opry House following the death of country music legend Porter Wagoner. Many wonder who will emerge as the new ambassador for the Grand Ole Opry.
- Paul W Dennis: Tom T & Dixie Hall are good people and I wish them all the best through this difficult time
- Paul W Dennis: Actually , it is not. We have so thoroughly debased our language that it is no longer possible to praise …
- Leeann Ward: Sheesh, Paul, that's a random/strange dig!
- Jack Williams: After reading that New Yorker article, I canceled my pre-order of the Basement Tapes box set. I love Bob …
- Leeann Ward: Wow! How terrible for Dixie Hall and Tom.
- Ken Morton, Jr.: Another twisted collection of songs to put into the Friday Five Hall of Fame, Juli.
- Arlene: I'd have included "Omie Wise." Doc Watson's is the version I'm familiar with but I think it's been recorded by …
- luckyoldsun: I think the number one country murder ballad is "Frankie and Johnny"--by Jimmie. Also, how about "Delia's Gone" from Harry Belafonte …
- Juli Thanki: Colloquial use of "fantastic" as a synonym for "excellent" dates back to the 1930s. And if it's good enough for …
- Paul W Dennis: I think "Banks of The Ohio", "Miller's Cave" and "It's Nothing to Me" are far creepier than several of the …