Saturday, September 24, 2016

Internet Killed the Video Star

In 1981, the year before I was born (I know, right, I'm older than I thought, too), "Video Killed the Radio Star," premiered on MTV as the first music video. 


Pandora was founded in January 2000 (We all knew the world was gonna end).,
XM Satellite Radio started September 25, 2001.
I cannot remember the name of the extremely popular music downloading site that destroyed my computer around 2002/2003.
Facebook opened its virtual doors in February of 2004.
Youtube played its first video, not music related, in 2005.
Spotify was launched in October of 2008.

A song came on my Pandora (nope, not my radio) this morning, and I thought, heh, that's song is obsolete. That's when it occured to me that country music hasn't just gotten bad (not all of it, mind you, but I would say with no hesitation that most of it is terrible) because the singers aren't as good or because the availability of stuff like Auto-tune has given the high ups in the music industry total autonomy on who gets to be famous. These things, these pretty much expected results of time and money, this stuff is just a tiny symptom of the real problem. 


The problem is the internet. All of these easy song-find-brilliant-boxes, which save my life when the worst song is stuck in my head (or the best but just part and all damn day), they all give it to you too easy. And when you hear a song, you hear it all alone. Sure, the youtube tells you how many people have seen that video, and surely whoever made the spotify playlists are listening (Are they really, though). And these "music experts" must really know what they're doing on Pandora when they pass on the pleasant stuff with few commercials, and you can just thumbs down that annoying stuff or the stuff by that artist you don't really like.



If it hadn't been for radio, I was ready to give up on Brad Paisley after his first song ("Who Needs Pictures"), though let's be honest, he's a part of the mess, now, too. If it weren't for country radio, I would not have learned how to be a little patient with songs and artists I didn't like immediately because I couldn't skip, pause, whatever. If I really hated a song, I was willing to risk commercials or picking up partway through something (I still do this in the car). But I think the biggest problem is that the pain is different.

What?



Yeah, I'm not really here to talk about ease an accessibility of music. I'm talking about ease an accessability of everything. The song I heard this morning:


If you wonder what your ex is doing now, you can just log on to facebook or linked in or insta-whatever it is, or that bird one and there you go. There's no mystery, you get all the gritty details, since everyone puts their life (or at least the part they're willing to admit to) out on the stage for everyone to gawk at, so sure maybe you can hurt a little over actually knowing what she's doing now, but really, you're so overloaded with information about everybody and what they're doing you don't really have the chance to be all broken up about any of it, cause then you just might miss the status update of that one guy you knew in highschool and talked to twice in the past 30 years (both times on facebook).



This pain is new and alone and slow and droning. That's the kind of country music we ought to be hearing. We need those steel guitars back. Only they can dig deep enough to make you put down your damn phone and feel something. People can't protect themselves from pain by ignoring what is going on around them, by walking down the street and missing the eye contact of the rare person sans phone (who are you all talking to anyway). That's where the real connection is, that's the cure for your pain you don't even know about.



The country music we're hearing on the radio now, this c-rap, this stuff that fills you up with something, with this fleeting lusty lie, this stuff is bad country music. We were all tricked by the early Jason Aldean, with his mixing in stuff like Amarillo Sky in with Dirt Road Anthem. We all thought, okay, that sounds kinda cool, and surely it's a one-time thing. I honestly love half of that song and don't like the rap part at all, but it feels worth it. I don't even know how to defend myself on that.


See, George and Alan had it right when they said, "The almight dollar
And the lust for worldwide fame
Slowly killed tradition
And for that, someone should hang."

I don't understand why we are standing for it, as listeners, as lovers of music. Why are we letting these big money people sell us prostitute us out like this? Why don't we demand better? Why don't we buy the better? Maybe what's going is is that the money is just getting to Nashville or New York City or LA or wherever it's going nowadays without us even really buying what they're selling. What if they're getting this money because of the advertisements sold on these website music pages, Pandora, Spotify, et cetera. What if they're just spitting out this stuff, telling us it's popular (I had a bit of Lauren Alaina stuffed down my throat by two radio stations in a row this morning, only to turn the dang thing off and wish I had more CDs), but there is not anything real there? It's just empty space. Oh, the songs are so empty. To quote one of the best rock bands of all time, 



Sunday, June 12, 2016

She Oughta Miss Me By Now

Mark Chesnutt! How lovely to hear your name again. And when Rolling Stone tells me your new song is "steel-drenched," I get a good feeling. I wouldn't go so far as to call it drenched in steel, but more of a blanket of steel - the way you feel wrapped up in it if you're in a country bar. It's a good song, has an early 90s kind of sound, not as twangy as some. The lyrics are okay. It is definitely a country song, but honestly it's nothing special. I like it fine and wouldn't turn the station if it came on, but it's not the kind of song I would ache to hear and call in numerous times or rush out to buy the album for, so I could listen to it over and over. It is the kind of song for hearing in a dance hall, for having playing in the background at a restaurant (the kind that serves chicken fried steak and brisket). Honestly it's more of a 'B-side,' but I'm looking forward to hearing more, hopefully more powerful songs from the old MC, maybe something as good as "It Sure is Monday," "Bubba Shot the Jukebox," or "Too Cold at Home."

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Workout Songs - 6/2/16

I thought I'd share this Youtube playlist that I made this morning to go with my workout. It was originally missing the final 2 songs, but the list was too short. My kids' favorite from the list was "Out With My Boots On," but the only criterion I used for the songs was that it be fast. Once, I was in a track meet in high school, doing the mile and a half race, and I had the song "Nice and Slow," stuck in my head. It was the first and last time that I placed absolutely last. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQJA4HNeRKrVbRypx8nFa_lbOrgScbA7G

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Sad Song Playlist

Howdy, y'all. I've been working on a number of playlists to keep y'all interested. This one I just made this morning. It's short and sweet - by sweet I mean that every one of the 9 songs on the list makes me cry or get choked up before the end with the exception of the last one, though when combined with the video, that'll do it, too. I argued with myself about the Kathy Mattea song, since it does seem kind of happy at the end, and I even considered changing the title of the playlist, but I think it has sufficient sadness in it, and the number of tears it causes is sufficient. Enjoy the catharsis.

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQJA4HNeRKrUmdtsGNFExzFHVE3rHlF-z

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Simplicity

I love the simplicity of country music. Some of the more complicated tunes, I tune out. Some of the trying too hard type lyrics, I ignore. Acoustic guitar, electric guitar steeeeeel guitar, don't need complexity to be killer. The alternative conveys more emotion, more depth. Think about some of the best country songs out there: "The Chair," "The Truth," "Tear in My Beer!" This song by Maren Morris has simple sound, simple lyrics; instant classic.


Maren Morris "My Church"

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Kenny Chesney's "Noise"

It's hard to tell if you're flipping on a pop station, country station, or some motley of 80s/90s pop rock alternative on the FM dial.  "Noise" rocks the pop sound in the opening - not unusual for a new country song these days. But then it does something new and fun and unexpected - and unexpectedly awesome. I guess since folk and blues and jazz have always had this connection to country without being too close, it's not a surprise that someone would eventually mix them. When I was in high school, I had this habit of going to Half-Priced Books and looking around in their old cds and tapes, and I picked up this one that had a guy with big hair on the front, and I had no idea what it would sound like or if I'd like it, and I had no idea what kind of music it would be. David Mead turned out to be an excellent addition to my music collection - and he was something I would have never sought out intentionally - but I'm glad I did. He's folksy, indie, with a bit of jazz/blues - though I feel like I could offend some people by putting such a pop sound into the jazz category. I thought we were talking about Kenny Chesney here! Yes, so the fun thing that KC does in this song is he taps into some folksy bluesy sound that just sneaks up on you, and you're not sure if you like it, why you like it, but it is good. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-VAXRC_hxk

Check it out on this video, at the 1:50 point, at the end of the line, when he hits the word noise, he goes off key. It's one of the most prominent features of a David Mead song, which is why I mention him. When I was searching on Youtube to decide which song to share with y'all on here, I saw that, funnily enough - David Mead did a song more recently called "Nashville," and guess who covered it? Taylor Swift. Ha. If you've read anything on this blog, you know that I'm an unwilling Taylor Swift fan. I don't like her most recent album, though, the 80s music one - it's too...80s for me. I like some 80s, but none of the kind that she did in her album. It's the only one I haven't bought of hers, and I've heard all of the songs, and I'm not regretting the non-purchase there, not a bit. The whole point of this article, though, is to point out the awesome thing that Kenny Chesney has done in "Noise," lyrics aside (and the lyrics are good - just a little Brad Paisley "Celebrity" obvious). 

Here's a little David Mead for the sake of comparison:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kb93PwM7UU

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Yuck

Just had a little barf moment. Tim McGraw new song "Country Girl." Have you heard this? Does your stomach get a little gross when you hear the electronic voice stuff? Yuck.

Speaking of yuck, let me just mention the absolute tastelessness of Blake Shelton's new song, which I happen to like very much save one little piece. The song is "Mine would be you," but you can't sing it in front of your kids. It is right in the beginning of the song, though, so if you totally like the song otherwise, for its musical loveliness and the rest of the lyrics, if you turn your volume down for a count of 10 when the song starts, you're good to go.

Cheers, y'all.