Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Murder on Music Row

On Legends Corner on Music Row,

"For the steel guitars no longer cry
And the fiddles barely play
But drums and rock 'n' roll guitars
Are mixed up in your face
Ol' Hank wouldn't have a chance
On today's radio
Since they committed murder
Down on music row."
-George Strait & Alan Jackson
"Murder on Music Row"
(Latest Greatest Straitest Hits, 2000)
Originally released by Larry Cordle
& Lonesome Standard Time

The year is 2011 and Music Row, as the main strip in downtown Nashville is called, has transformed dramatically over the last fifty or sixty years.  The structures are still stable; Tootsie's Orchid Lounge is visited nightly by hopeful singers wishing to be discovered, the Mother Church of Country Music hovers directly behind this honky tonk, and  the Ernest Tubb Record Shop's sign still glows brightly against the Tennessee sky.

A popular musical once sang that "Progress is the root of all evil."  I can't say that I completely agree, but something in that line does strike a chord with me.  With time comes change, this is the inevitable truth of life.  However, sometimes these transitions are not smooth, they are unwanted, unneeded, and they are noticed by all who know and love the things that are changing.  A reminiscent feeling is developed and old times are much longed for. 

Minnie's "Howdy!" no longer echos off the walls of the Ryman and Ernest Tubb's Midnite Jamboree makes its way over the air waves to serve as only a reminder of times when big country acts felt honored to grace it's hardwood floor for the fans after a Saturday night Opry appearance.  It's line up now mainly includes older singers like Jeannie Seely, Jan Howard, and Jack Greene.  It's records have been shoved to a tiny shelf against the wall, replaced by the much more hip CDs.  The Tennessee Plowboy, Eddy Arnold, has long been forgotten about by casual country fans, although he charted ninety-two top-ten hits during his astounding career.  The singing cowboys and their horses are more well-known through the vintage collectible memorabilia items that bear their signature names than as actual frontiers in the industry.  
At Ernest Tubb's in 2010.

The Carters with their ever present guitars and harpsichords would no doubt frown upon the rock-and-roll sounds ringing from the instruments of today's artists.  Would Jimmie Rodgers, who recorded most of his albums in a studio while so sick from tuberculosis he had to sit between takes, approve of singers sloppily doing a track in one take and altering their mistakes and disguising their lack of talent with computer programs?  I'm sure the "Hillbilly Shakespeare" Hank Sr. would have spit upon the person who wrote a song as dumb as "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" and maybe even do a double spit on the person who penned Trace Adkins "Brown Chicken Brown Cow" a play on words for the punch line of "bow chicka bow wow."

This past week was the CMT Awards hosted by Kid Country...er--Rock.  He walked out on stage to his 2000 hit "Bawitdaba" which is just as horrible as the title sounds.  The very fact that he was chosen to host these awards is a degradation to the very establishment of country music, I'll make no apologies in saying this.  He's a relatively good singer, but I'm far past tired of the hard rock to country to pop to rap crossovers.  My beloved Band Perry have decided to rerecord some of their songs to give them more of a pop feel and draw in more of an audience; this breaks my heart to no end.  In their very first CMT Awards performance they began their song "You Lie" with lyrics from "Love the Way Your Lie" by Eminem and Rihanna.  Next it was time for Jason Aldean to rap/sing some down home country while some half-dressed women danced around him.  The final straw for me came when Justin Bieber, as country as can be now, ya'll, was up for an award with Rascal Flatts...who ended up beating Ms. Loretta Lynn.  That is when I frantically searched for my remote and turned the station.  Tons of teenie-boppers got on the Internet and clicked until their fingers fell off, I understand, it's fan voted.  That fact is also what makes it even more sad for me.

If you've ever read my blog before you know I love the tradition, but I'm not dead set against new acts; just making that disclaimer. I'm trying not to be too critical of the new stuff.  My iPod is a wide array of tunes, stuff you wouldn't even think I'd listen to.  However, when the tradition I love is disgraced, it makes me want to bang my head against the wall.



Scroll down to see a video I posted. :)

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