Drunk On LaCienega
July 29, 2016
Kenny Chesney sings to Pink ... "Yeah, we got drunk on LaCienega" ... The opening line of his newest song, "Setting the World on Fire."
We've been on the streets of Bakersfield and down in the West Texas town of El Paso but drunk in West Hollywood is uncharted territory for Country music.
It is sure to be a hit and it's a "driving down Sunset" or maybe "up the PCH toward Zuma Beach" kind of song. I can almost close my eyes and look north and see the lights on the Hollywood Hills. Isn't that Blake Shelton's pad up there? LA streets are not normally geographic destinations for country audiences but we live in a new day. Pink, Demi, Pitbull, Steven Tyler ... everyone you would meet backstage at the American Music Awards are singing on Country records.
The Nashville record company executives are not discouraging the crossover at all and corporate radio seems to be onboard. The format is getting very far away from the George Strait sound and even the Garth '90s sound ... But those who can remember the '60s: Top 40 had Peter Paul and Mary alongside the Beatles and the Four Seasons. Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash were on Top 40 next to Elvis and Roy Orbison. All Music Row-made productions.
This Pop/Country acceptance is like fashion ... a cycle ... Colors come in and out of style. White is a big color in women's fashion right now ... Pop singers in the Country world is hot and it is nothing new.
The year was 1961. Jimmy Dean's "Big Bad John" was #1 for five weeks on the Top 40 radio. You couldn't get more Country than Jimmy Dean! From November 11th, 1961 to December 16th, New Yorkers to Newport Beach could not get enough of the coal miner John. (well, maybe not Newport Beach ... it was just sort of a work of alliteration) Then the next week, The Marvelette's "Please Mr Postman" hit #1. A song the Beatles would do a few years later. It was a mixmaster of music.
Country music right now sounds like a Top 40 station in the '70s. This trend was supposed to be road-blocked by Chris Stapleton and his troops, but while he sells albums, the singles world keeps going to the left. Sam Hunt will be a headliner in 2017 and he's one of "Country's" hottest acts.
Country is actually in a good place right now if everyone will remain calm ... The classic side seems stronger as classic Country radio stations are growing in ratings in multiple markets ... Sat radio has Willie's Place and is getting a Garth Brooks channel soon.
There seems to be room for two types of Country stations in some markets. It is very hard now to merge songs popular even five years ago with the songs coming out in 2016.
Change at every level ... the last two two weeks has been political overdrive and overdose. Smart entertainers are keeping their choices to themselves. Most want to sell their music to Democrats and Republicans. Few are brave or crazy enough to plant the flag on one side of the other. As the election gets, some will explode with emotion and swim toward the deep end. Right now very few with business on Music Row are taking political stands.
The freshness of a lot of the chart-climbing Country songs is in sharp contrast to Hollywood. Movie attendance is way off. And sequel-itis is worse than ever on Burbank Blvd, Pico, Melrose and 500 So. Buena Vista Street. Many of the movies seem stale and the box office figures reflect the malaise. The comic book and children's animation are very strong but in general, the foreign box office is keeping the executives from jumping out their office windows.
Network TV is rediscovering '50s game shows. These are strange times!
Singing about La Cienega Blvd is not strange sounding to Country acts in 2016 or even 1996. L.A. is a regular destination and has been for 50 years. The Tonight Show, Ellen, Jimmy Kimmel, Conan ... all those shows in the last few decades ... the many award shows and the venues. Saw Patty Loveless at the Greek ... Faith Hill at the Pantages Theatre, Little Big Town at the Wiltern, Brad Paisley at a sold-out Hollywood Bowl, Chesney at the Rose Bowl and Garth at the Staples Center.
Singing about getting drunk on La Cienega seems like a pretty normal progression when you stop and think about it...
Those going to L.A. to recreate the song ... Henry's L.A. nightclub at Beverly and LaCienega is very popular ... Morton's Steakhouse at 435 LaCienega is really good and The Stinking Rose-A Garlic Restaurant has been there for years. Lawry's, too.
So get with it ... Pink and Kenny will take you to the City of Lights where you better not get drunk and drive! You do NOT want to get stopped by CHIPs , Bev Hills PD or LAPD. Jail anywhere would ruin your day but in that place ... oh yeah! So UBER if you go on a night as suggested.
Nashville and Music Row of even the '90's or early 2000s seems like 100 years ago ... L.A. is BNA and vice versa. Hang on ... where is this going next and with whom?
Star on the rise ... Drake White ... There are so many young artists who are fantastic. Better keep your game veterans! This 16th Ave race course is faster than ever!