Jay Ricochet and DBF
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Here is the article that I wrote that was published in Fair Play Country Music Magazine. Don't know exactly when I will receive the magazine in the mail, so I thought I would share the article with you.
Where’s the Country I know and Love?
In August of 1985, arguably the greatest voice in Country Music History, George Jones released the album “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes”. In the very first verse of the song of the same name, written by Troy Seals and Max D. Barnes, the Possum sings “ You know this world is full of singers, But just a few are chosen to tear your heart out when they sing. Imagine a life without all your radio heroes, like the outlaw that walks through Jesse’s dreams”.
As I sat and thought about what I wanted to write in this article, that first verse of that song along with the last line in the chorus, "Lord I wonder who’s gonna fill their shoes", kept playing over and over in my mind. I think it’s because I am so consumed with the lack of Country Music both on Terrestrial Radio and in the Country Music Industry as a whole. Now when I use the words Country Music Industry, I’m using them in the context of the suits that pull the strings in Nashville. The Machine that seems to be missing a few cogs, if you catch my drift. The decision makers that get to tell the masses listening, what is “Country Music” and what isn’t. Well, I truly believe that there are very few suits in Nashville that know what “Country Music” truly is and what the name Country Music stands for.
I vividly remember the first time I was introduced to Country Music. My father was an over the road truck driver. I remember sitting in the passenger seat of his old International as he was preparing for a long trip. He stuck a cassette in the radio and the music of Johnny Paycheck came through the speakers. It was beautiful, the sounds of the instruments behind his voice just mesmerized me. I could feel the pain his voice and the emotions the words were portraying. I could feel the same emotions through the notes the musicians were playing. I thought, wow, I have to hear more of this.
Now before I was introduced to the likes of Johnny Paycheck, Waylon Jennings, and David Allan Coe I was just obsessed with the band Kiss. I thought that I would never hear anything better than them. So believe me when I tell you, to get me to turn off the album “Destroyer”, or 8 Track at the time, and listen to anything else was going to be a tough feet. But there was just something about the music of these crooners that had me hooked. The way a singer could take a bunch of words and sing them in a way where you knew exactly what they were feeling. You knew exactly the point they were trying to get across in the song. With just the voice? That’s when I knew what Country music was and what the words Country Music meant.
But somewhere, somehow along the way, the music I fell in love with just went completely off of the rails. Now I know that Country Music has gone through a lot of transitions throughout the years. It is in no way the music that The Carters, Hank Williams, Hank Snow, and many others created. But I have seen the transition into the “Pop Country” of the 70’s and 80’s. John Denver, Conway Twitty, even Ronnie Milsap and Alabama were all considered to pop for Country Music. Hell even Dwight Yoakam was considered to pop for Country, imagine that. But in their defense, they Kept the beauty of storytelling and heartbreak in their music. Even in the 90’s with the explosion of artists like Garth Brooks and Shania Twain were called traitors by staunch country traditionalists. But through all those times of new “Pop Country” artists, true traditional Country Music was still alive and strong on the Radio Dial with artists like The King George Strait and Alan Jackson.
Now we fast forward to the Country of today, or should I say the lack thereof, on the radio and stages across America. With artists like Sam Hunt, Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Florida Georgia Line, and many others putting out the most Non Country Music we have ever heard. They are being pushed, supported and recreated by the Nashville machine in record numbers. They all have the same formula to their music. Digital drums, digital hand claps or finger snaps, meaningless pop lyrics that show no emotion (as an example of useless lyrics, Tyler Rich song The Difference, “I want you to be my hottie riding shottie, I don't want nobody's body but your body, babe”) and repeat. All I feel when I hear todays “Country” songs is disgust. I don’t feel any emotion, I don’t feel what the singer is feeling. Even on the Country awards shows they are pairing up todays Country Artists with Pop artists. It’s like they know these songs and artists can’t hang on their own merit, they have to bring in someone else to impress people. As an example. Florida Georgia line with Bebe Rehxa. Meant To Be is the most boring, uneventful song. So to make Florida Georgia Line seem relevant, they had to bring in some pretty faced Pop Diva to excite the audience into listening to this crap.
But as in years past there are still traditional Country artists out there holding down the Country Music moniker. Artists like Aaron Watson, William Michael Morgan, Cody Jinks, Whitey Morgan, and Jackson Taylor and the Sinners just to name a few. They are out there on the road, with little to no airplay, packing every venue they play and selling albums, yes albums. They can still sell full albums because their music is amazing. Every song on the albums are just as good as the last. There is a movement out there trying to save Country Music! They are keeping Country Music alive! Even though the suits in Nashville won’t push them or even acknowledge them. So when George asked “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes”? Well George I hope you are looking down from the great Honky Tonk in the sky, proud of the men and women who are working tirelessly to keep alive the music we all love and that they are steamrolling down the path you and all the other Country Heroes have paved for us.
I try to do that with every show I play. I pay homage to my Country Heroes. Play their music with the same emotion and respect it deserves. And at the same time I try to write and sing my songs as I think they would. I want to make my heroes proud. I like to think they are looking down on me with a smile and a big salute as they lift their drinks in the air. I am so thankful and grateful to labels like Nashville Entertainment Weekly. They have shown me and my music so much support and respect. They believe in today’s true country artist.
So the next time you turn your radio dial to your favorite Country Station, remember that you are the ones that have control over what you are listening to. Stop buying and supporting the garbage Nashville is providing. Call and request to hear Aaron Watson or Whitey Morgan. The future of Country Music lies with you. Don’t buy into this manufactured product they are selling. I think Shooter Jennings put it best when he wrote “Hey pretty boy in the baseball hat, you couldn’t hit Country with a baseball bat. Country ain’t just about where you’re at, it’s about being true to what’s inside. You say you’re an outlaw with your perfect boots that you got from your record labels image group. Sing another man’s song with a big drum loop. Listen son, you ain’t got a clue. You can’t buy true. Tell you what they should do, they should outlaw you.”
#AaronWatson #WhiteyMorgan #CodyJinks #JacksonTaylor #WilliamMichaelMorgan"