When Blake Shelton made the incredibly ignorant and stupid statement that old people who didn’t buy his cd’s and concert tickets were ‘old farts and jackasses,’ he made it perfectly clear how very little he understands the music world, the evolution of music, the history of music, the business of music, and the longivity of music, especially ‘country’ music.
Fact number one deals with Mr. Shelton. His initials are B.S. a perfect fit for him because that’s exactly what I think he is full of. As President of the National Traditional Country Music Association, since 1976, I not only take offense to his insults, the ‘record’ needs to be set straight on his lack of intelligence. The music business is ‘down’ all over right now. Nothing is doing as good as it has been in the past, especially in country music where today’s ‘sound’ is pretty much very similar in style and content, with little if any ‘connects’ to where it came from. Abandoning the roots of anything certainly means the death of that enterprise, no matter what it is. “Country’ music came from rural America. The music, the songs, the stories, the plaintive pleas were, and still are, the main reason for it’s existence. Rural America IS ‘country’ music, not the urban comfort of ‘judging’ another’s talent from the comfort of a million dollar studio set. Anyone with enough money can buy a ‘male vocalist of the year’ award, anywhere, anytime, anyday. To be the kind of non-vocalist that Mr. Shelton is, as Willie Nelson so plainly pointed out….”he lip syncs his songs” means only one ‘true’ thing about Shelton. He can’t really sing. If anyone knows the reality of this, Shelton does. How true it is.. “If you got the money honey Nashville’s got the time… couldn’t be truer, as Shelton has discovered. Everything is for sale in Nashville, including Shelton.
Mr. Shelton believes the ‘only’ record buyers today are the young. He couldn’t be further from the truth. The biggest ‘bloc’ of potential record buyers in America today is without a doubt the ‘baby boomers.’ Why? Because they are now retiring. Most have retirement plans meaning they have money to spend, unlike a younger America that is having trouble even finding a job. Are they buying into the ‘phony’ world of a pseudo-country music world? No, they are not. Are they buying into anything? Sure, those things they want to do, want to see, want to hear.
So, who do they want to hear? Ask Ray Price. He took a very strong stand against Shelton’s ignorance and insults. His fans are just as strong, just as large, just as loyal as they have ever been. Mr. Price has ‘paid his dues’ building his fan base, year after year with good recordings, good concerts, and good manners, and a totally good ‘honest country’ approach to the music he loves. Has Shelton done this? Absolutely not. If Mr. Shelton believes ‘paying his dues’ is how much he spends buying a record contract or buying a title, or buying a spot on a pretty much unwatched television show, he’s mistaken. He has no fan base, and the ‘numbers’ he proposes, or his recording company proposes, or even radio charts, are simply a way you can ‘buy’ into music in America today. That means it’s not honest, it’s not true, it’s phony.
America lost a big chunk of ‘honesty’ in the radio business when government allowed huge corporations to buy all the radio stations they wanted in any location. What that means is we only hear what that corporation wants us to hear. It also means that any kind of charting activity is bought and paid for before the records are even in the stores. Ray Price never had to do that, ever, but it is obviously the ‘method’ that Shelton claims is taking the place of ‘real’ country music. His opinion that music must ‘evolve’ to stay alive is certainly interesting, but not true. America has never lost it’s interest in anything that is truly ‘entertaining.’ The groups, associations, clubs, gatherings, jam sessions, festivals, organizations, meetings, of just one genre of music, ‘Bluegrass,’ makes it very clear that Shelton has no idea what he is talking about.
Shelton is a reflection, a very clear one, of what it was like when radio came into existence all those years ago. A licensing agency was immediately set up to ‘collect the money’ for playing recordings on radio. Known as ASCAP, like Mr. Shelton, this group took it upon themselves to be the ‘judge and jury’ of what music the American public could hear on radio. Guess what? They banned anything they considered hillbilly, or mountain, or folk, or downhome rural music. Why? In their own words they didn’t feel the American public should be exposed to such vulgar music. Wow, Mr. Shelton, this is the very roots of the music you say you record. Tons of 78rpm records were put out, very plainly marked “not licensed for radio airplay.” It was some of the very best of America’s rural music. Because of that incredible bias and discrimination BMI was formed to take care of more genres of music.
America is still the land of the free and the home of the brave, and both of those words, free and brave, are still a very intimate part of America’s rural music today. No, Mr. Shelton, America’s rural music will not shrivel up and die like you want it to. We still grow your food, we still provide you with sustenance, we still make it possible for you to even exist.
You owe America a huge apology for your ignorance. You owe every baby boomer in America an apology for your ignorance. You owe every ‘true’ country music artist, composer, performer, promoter, and preservationist an apology for your ignorance. I record for the Smithsonian Institution. We do not cater to ‘charts’ like you do. We continue to do our work quietly, with steadfast purpose, with truth and honesty in our hearts. You can’t say that can you Mr. Shelton? Your world is the world of make-believe, the phony world of making something other than what it really is, creating a television image that’s nothing more than a fleeting glimpse of what money can buy today. My recordings with the Smithsonian will stay there into perpetuity. Can you say the same for your recording company? No you cannot. Why? Because you are already a victim of your own stupidity. Yes, Mr. Shelton, you are already dying just as you predicted you would be. I’m so glad your initials are B.S. In the rural country, where I’m from, that’s perfectly fitting.
Please visit our website at http://www.ntcma.net to find our more about what we are doing to ‘save’ America’s great rural music, not destroy it as you wish.
And especially for you Mr. Shelton, here’s a little video of a song I wrote in 1980, because I already knew the phonies like you, who ‘buy’ your way in, were on the way.
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