The Collaboration Conundrum
June 24, 2016
The Internet has a large assortment of stupid people not afraid to publicly express themselves! The anonymity of the Internet allows frustrated writers to pontificate and to be hurtful. The mean and hurtful is the worst.
A few of these mean "music lovers" sites have been popping off on a number of subjects: Bro-Country (a tired subject), the next saviors of Country music (the traditionalist ) and the latest subject, those evil Country collaborators..
With no conspiracy observed, several mainstream Country artists have recorded recently with artists outside the format. This is nothing new! Willie and a dozen people, Earl Thomas Conley and Anita Pointer, Toby and Sting, Reba and Kelly Clarkson, Country's most honored female (27 Grammys!) Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, Trisha Yearwood and Don Henley, Alan and Buffett, Johnny Cash and U2 and on and on... so big deal that Urban has Pitbull, Dierks has Elle King and Paisley sang with Demi Lovato. Experimenting and singing with someone different than you is one of the coolest things in all of music ... Bing Crosby and David Bowie ... it really is not worth discussing.
It is why you should not read the Internet comment section of almost any general interest entertainment site ... Uneducated, loud, anonymous characters with the freedom to be hurtful and mean hang out in mass. Those same people probably fast-forwarded through the "traditional" sounding "Humble and Kind." Jeez.
I hope artists in general stay away from reading reviews. Concert, album, whatever. They are mostly creativity killers. You try something outside of the median comfort zone and you get lit up.
Many times these "professionals" review the show or project they would like to see made not the one that was made. They also review more for each other than for the consumer ... seen that up close and personal for many years.
Constructive criticism is a good thing if done in a polite way. Personal attacks don't further the criticism. Dumb and mean jabs are cheap. There are good reviewers and even great critical music writers. Just in general on the Internet, it is the wild west.
The worst thing you can do is to get into a personal one-on-one battle with an "anonymous." I'm only bringing this up because I accidentally ran across some really pointed personal and mean comments about an artist working with a pop artist. Really personal stuff ... A poison well. Self-inflicted wounds ... Life is too short to swim in the toilet
Country music is at an interesting crossroads. Generational Country right now is a distant relative of Strait, Jackson and Cash. But that's okay ... Every generation deserves its own music. Taylor Swift changed the world as Garth Brooks did years before. The Bros are changing it now...
The Country music of 2016 is very different and wildly popular. It is more pop in genre than what used to be called traditional. Should there be a format split? ... probably, but you would have to three formats: Americana, Modern and Traditional. Not likely in every market. With Sat Radio, streaming and broadcast radio choices there really is no reason to complain. Everything is available on demand and a'plenty.
So anonymous Internet critics -- quit living in 1980 and join the 21st century where Glenn Miller lives next to Led Zeppelin and Cash lives next door to Nelly on your computer or your phone.. No one is making you listen to anything ... You have more choices than ever ... Put your Hank Senior 8-track or Jay Z DAT on and we will sing together ... and live happily ever after. I like Hank Sr. and at times, Pitbull so hang me in the town square.
On the subject of Internet spew ... I was hoping people would care this week that Wayne Jackson of The Memphis Horns died ... and the week before, producer/songwriter Chips Moman. Two music men who had a part in over 50 pop #1s ... and around 100 Gold and Platinum records. Very few hits on my Facebook for those subjects ... more for Taylor Swift's latest date and the strawberry moon. But that's okay ... The world is simply different as time goes by.
Vinyl is sort of back but will people ever read liner notes again ... How many can tell you the name of the drummer on their favorite song? Hal Blaine was once your go-to answer ... or Gene Chrisman ... or Larrie London, Eddie Bayers ... the point is that used to be important to know about the Ringo's and Keith Moon's. Interests change...
Now it just about the party most of the time ... drinking, socializing and not so much the geek music stuff...
Look at the Top 40 right now on the Country charts. Talk about diverse!
100-degree heat index on Music Row today ... Go watch The Wrecking Crew and /or Muscle Shoals ... great documentaries about the music! Wish a Nashville one would come along ... So many characters and non-Country songs ... It would shock the Internet negative nay-bobs.