Saturday, June 7, 2014
They get their songs cut.
And they make a few bucks.
Great songwriters accomplish those and, sometimes, two more, perhaps even more remarkable, things.
They speak volumes with just a few words.
They can actually effect changes.
Vince Gill is a great songwriter.
And in a recent interview with Rolling Stone, he not only did that volumes with few words thing, he also changed something.
".......You have to look at a young person today and understand their influences were nothing like mine. I'm almost 60 years old. And so 50 years ago what taught me how to play and sing, it's gone. It's in our history and that's great, and if you go find it and learn it, you'll be better for it. But you take a young kid like Brett Eldredge or Kip Moore, guess who their mentors are? Tim McGraw and Toby Keith, and the biggest people from 15 years ago. So I'm not ever going to be critical of a young person that doesn't know [country's] history. I didn't either......."
Yet Gill did extend a challenge to a country music industry bloated with rural clichés and tropes when accepting a career achievement award at the 2012 ACM Honors ceremony in Nashville.
".......I feel inundated these days with music that's telling me how country it is," he said, his voice full of emotion. "And what I long for, more than anything, is to hear how country it is......."
There it is.
Not to spill 80's booty bass references to Tag Team into an offering highlighting country music.
The current crop of country boys have that dirt road to Miami more than plowed.
The "it" that's there is, in my humble o, the simple, unambiguous summation of all the chit chat/debate/argument/lament/dissertation and good ol' fashioned country jaw flappin' about the state of contemporary country music as it affects millions of country music lovers who have felt like their beloved traditions are, to paraphrase the lovely literary pride of the South, Margaret Mitchell, a genre of music gone with the wind.
Die hard, true blue purists who are, so to speak, Jonesing for George.
Vince Gill, meanwhile, just basically did a flawless impression of Little Richard.
The complete interview (available online at http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/vince-gill-on-truck-songs-clapton-womens-unfair-role-in-country-20140604) is a very good read and deserves a few minutes of your attention if you're one of those folks standing on one side or the other side, or perched precariously on the middle, of the fence on the matter.
But the two points Vince made in the excerpts above were all I needed to close the case and move on to trying to solve the mystery of why television keeps giving big blocks of weekly time to idiots.
Point number one.
Today's country singers, both male and female, did, in fact, grow up influenced, not so much by George and Loretta and Hank and Patsy and Willie and Faron and Conway, even Dolly, et al but, by Alan and Martina and Toby and Tim and Jo Dee and Garth.
Garth, who recorded and had hits with Billy Joel songs, for God's sake.
So it's neither surprising or unpredictable that the current crop would be finding ways to work in the hip hop with the hee haw, the booty bass with the bass boat, yo mama with mama's fried chicken.
Could be worse.
So far, nobody in country has opened up a can of K.C. sunshine.
So, while I will always be more a fan of Tammy than Two Live Crew, more Mother Maybelle than MC Hammer, even more Vince than Vanilla Ice, I've decided to put away my own denigrator ray gun and let the young folk do what the young folk do.
The remarkable Mr. Gill's other point, though, is not only spot on, it bears repeating.
"I feel inundated these days with music that's telling me how country it is ......and what I long for, more than anything, is to hear how country it is."
That's a point of view on this whole today's versus yesterday's country music that no one had articulated.
Until Vince Gill and his few words that speak volumes.