Washington Post Remarks on Country Music

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"These days country stars are created in a factory in China, molded out of plastic by workers earning 38 cents an hour, then shipped to Nashville where they are fitted for a cowboy hat and taught to sing ditties written by a commitee of moonlighting Hallmark employees"
The Washington Post staff writer Peter Carlson
Tuesday November 8, 2005
Section C, page 2

This quote came from an excellent article in The Washington Post on Merle Haggard and his GQ Magazine article.  Though all that long, still was a great read.  In the paragraph, the writer was commenting on that Haggard in a part of a dying breed of authentic artists.
Though, not the direct subject of the article, the writer brought up such a great point.  It is true.  No doubt.  I don't want to hear the same lines I hear all the time about how country music is at its best or the "room for everyone" motion.  This is pretty much a standard thing these days.  The record label finds the look og the order of the day and then changes their physical appearance, style of sound, takes a bunch of pictures, film some over produced music video, get an article in Country Weekly, release one of the Hallmark written songs, and sell records to teeny poppers that are attracted to the sex appeal, and not talented musical influence.
Don't believe me?  Pick up Billy Currington's new album.  Tell me, with a straight face, that their primary goal is selling talented music with sexy male photographs filling the album cover.  Look at the career of Sara Evans.  Compare her first album release "Three Chords and the Truth" with her newest "Real Fine Place."  I could list so many more examples.  These two artists have talent, I'm not saying that.  What I am saying, though, is that they’re too many people making decisions for them.  What they look like, sound like, what they sing about, and on and on.  If someone like Evans had totally 100% freedom of musical expression, can you imagine what we could be hearing by this point in her career?
That brings up another point.  Average or non-distinctive artists wouldn't have a chance for a dreaded second album.  If you can't put in 110% of your talent that you believe you have, the open market will put up a permanent roadblock on your chosen career path.  Look at an artist like George Strait.  His image hasn't changed since he began recording.  Why? Because the image he portrays is his personality—the real him.  He is successful because of his vocal talent and ability to select perfect songs for him.  He is not apart of the current trend of music; he is apart of the dying breed that Peter Carlson mentioned.  

The breed is dying, no doubt, but not extinct.  Thankfully, there has been a trend of independent labels opening that are giving artists their freedom back.  Toby Keith, Clint Black, Neal McCoy, even Garth Brooks all have gone to either start their own or become members of an independent label.  Broken Bow Records that includes Craig Morgan and Jason Aldean are very successful.  The reason I believe is there freedom from the commercialization of the music, which becomes more like a product than an entertainment source.

The big business style of country music needs to wake-up.  They are missing out on the chance to produce quality instead of what they think we want to hear.