The bar set too low?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Recently, a member contacted me and asked for my opinion on a journal entry that Richard Marx has posted. One of the points in it really caught my attention. He mentioned "The bar...is...too.....low" in regards to the level of talent in country music these days, and specifically was mentioning the CMA winners.

Well, as far as a stand point of CMA winners, well, the voting membership only can vote on what is out there to vote on. So, that point is fairly mute.

What I want to focus on though, is the overall bar. I do believe it is set low in the talent area. Big label Nashville is not looking for true talent. They look for market-ability. If they think the person can sing fairly decent, with a little help from the audio technology that is available, and have "that look and persona" that will sell records, then they have a new artist. It's sad.

When I look for really good music. I mean music with feeling, talent, and a dedication to the music, I look at the independent artists. That's where the music is these days. No doubt. There so many out there and far too many real good one to mention. However, those are the artists that get my attention. Sure a few exceptions like Alan Jackson and George Strait, for example are out there. Those are the ones that keep my passion for the music high.

So many so called country artists aren't that at all. They just so happened to end up in that category because that's who signed them. A lot of them don't know anything about the music they are in. They probably have never heard a song by Little Jimmy Dickens, Hank Williams Sr., Hank Snow, and others of that caliber. If they have, its either been by accident, a cover song, or maybe just the biggest of the hits. The Opry's history probably is not known to them, except maybe that its where their manager said they need to go to, its 80 years old, and its held on Friday or Saturday.

Then there the ones that do know what they are doing in Nashville and are restricted in what they sing and do because of those large labels. They look at one thing: the bottom line. If it sells, lets do it. Tradition, heritage, talent, and honor to the music is much lower down on the list.

Until the big Nashville labels discover that what the fans of the music want is talent and true country music, that bar will be set low. Maybe they will notice that the independent labels are doing quiet well and take their lead, but I'm not holding my breath on that one. Also, until the label's management and decision makers come from those deep country tradition, we won't see it.

It is definitely heart-breaking to notice these observations, but that is the fact of the music business. Sure, I don't want to say there isn't any good music out there, but, I'm afraid you have to dig for it a little. Country music is still strong and alive, no doubt, but I believe that it could be so much stronger.

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