Monday, October 11, 2010

Generation contribution overvaluation?

This quote from Kevin J. Coyne at Country Universe was chock-full of WIN:

I’m sorry, but today’s current crop of country stars are collectively less talented, less compelling, less interesting, and quite frankly, less capable with a pen, guitar, and microphone than even the B-list stars of the eighties and nineties....

...please look to Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, Trisha Yearwood, Patty Loveless, and just about all of the other big eighties and nineties stars for how to produce good country music.  For (Hilary) Scott to think that her generation is actually improving the genre, she must either have remarkably bad taste in music, or a nineties record collection that runs no deeper than Linda Davis.
It strikes me that so many country artists these days think WAY too much of their generation and its contributions to the genre. To this you can add Rascal Flatts frontman Gary Levox saying "we've helped other genres look at country music like country’s pretty cool now," and of course then there’s Eric Church’s constant poseury as some sort of modern-day Outlaw. I really don't give a damn if Church DOES hang out with Jamey Johnson; he still isn't in the same league, let alone the same ballpark. And who could forget Brad Paisley's remarks about how "progressive" country music is these days? I will say that Brad does redeem himself now and then, though, as does Jamey Johnson*, who I'm sure would be catching his own share of flak if it were someone else writing this rant and not I.

On another note, like Kevin I don't understand this fixation with writing one's own material. What's wrong with recognizing your limitations as an artist? I don't see the fact that George Strait wrote so little of his own music as making him less of an artist. And while I think Alan Jackson's probably the best singer-songwriter to come down the pike (as far as mainstream country goes) in at least the last 25 years, some of his best material has come from the pens of other writers -- "Gone Country," "Everything I Love" and "Monday Morning Church" immediately come to mind. Some might even say these days that he could stand to use more material from outside writers. Some folks are better at writing than others, and better that they recognize that than muddle their way through something that turns out not so well...

*(To be honest, I'm totally willing to let Jamey Johnson off the hook, because he at least walks the walk -- or, more appropriately, records the records. Yeah, yeah, I know, "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk." So sue me. ;-))