A Non Running Diary of the 42nd Annual CMA Awards, or, how I got Nashville Constipation

Yes, dear readers, I was READY...the juices were flowing, and the anger was at a fever pitch. I had a fine cache of bile stored, swirling and brackish, smelling of sulfur and fumes of disgust. But alas, technology interceded, and the simple act of DVR maintenance, mastered by roughly 84.3 per cent of the 6 year old population of this country, was the single point of failure in my plan.

So I improvised. "What would Demko do?" I asked myself. After shuddering at the thought of the answer to that question, I proceeded rationally to "Plan B."

The rock bottom fact to life today is that radio and TV are on their way out. A lot of propeller heads who were born after Watergate would argue that the personal computer was the most important invention or device of the 20th Century, but these children are fools. Television and Radio were vastly more important; the personal computer made a popcorn fart dent in the last decade and a half, and kicked off the subsequent millenium. The 85 years leading up to that were dominated by the tools of mass communication, the great equalizers, the delivery vehicles of a pluralistic society.

But now, the internet has supplanted them. And it's their own fault. Oh well.

Instead of sitting through 2 or 3 hours of chicken wing induced drool, let me spare you:

What would have, did, probably happened:

Kenny pouted

Martina sang some song about overcoming challenges that probably involved angels and/or children and/or puppy dogs

Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood continued on their highway to hell to wide open beaver shots in the Enquirer

Gary LeVox will wear an oversized silk shirt and sing falsetto about "his girlfriend/wife"

Somebody who fell off the radar will show up and get a standing ovation for essentially doing nothing

What won't happen:

Country music

Let's go to youtube for the verdict:

Kenny pouting with aforementioned "fell off radar" person. I can't overstate the damage these two people have done to Country Music. This entire vignette is a statement of a self-serving industry patting itself on the back for catering to the lowest common denominator. More than just a talentless, tone def hack, Kenny Chesney is a standard bearer for a cabal of money launderers who decided long ago to destroy the substance of Americana in the name of greed. Look at this dreck:

So he's a Reggae singer now? Let me be perfectly clear about this, the reasoning behind this performance, the pairing with "The Wailers," (Bob Marley is not only turning over in his grave, he's filling a gourd with chicken blood to throw on Kenny, and then jabbing him in the face with two extended fingers, giving him the ancient, yet powerful stink eye), the palm fronds, the overall bullshit, is to SELL SOMETHING ELSE. This song, this image, this ambience, will be paired with some kind of alcohol/apparel/apparatus sales and marketing gimmick, and Kenny will profit handsomely for momentarily appearing tall, laid back, yet well healed, and international, when in fact he's nothing more than the worst kind of marionette. Since so many Country music heroes are dead or dying, it's hard to pick just one Kenny, but I want you to know that no matter what they say to your face, people like Merle Haggard hate your guts. You too Buddy Cannon.

You want organic Carib influenced, Southern Hemisphere meets thin white blues music? Try this:

This is simple and stupid, but Kenny couldn't pull it off with an army of Bob Marley zombies.

Nashville simply doesn't understand, or refused to recognize a simple fact about America, American art, and the roots behind an Americana oeuvre: Al Swearingen said it best at 5:18 of this clip:

You see, within certain bounds, we're all specialists. Cowboys from Montana are different than cowboys from Alabama. But theyr'e all cowboys. So you can sing to them about common experiences, but you shouldn't just offer them a straight whore house. You need to understand your clientele. You need to cater, you need to nurture the uniqueness. If it's all one big funnel to the gaping vagina of musical homogeneity, you're not only killing your own industry, you're killing the culture.

I spent a good 45 minutes clicking through the youtube clips of the 42nd Annual CMA Awards tonight, and I saw exactly nothing different than I have seen for the past 5 to 10 years. It is simply a repeatable, repeated product now. It is not organic, it is not based or connected to the music of even 30 years ago in the same town. There's no artistic progression. It's a soulless assembly line of people and parts designed to deliver a demographic to advertisers, and we're all much much poorer for it.

At this time of year, given the economic uncertainty this country faces, and the grand opportunity we all have to reboot and reclaim the foundations of our society as we stare down the failures of the last two decades, it's time to tell Nashville to finally and essentially fuck off. Delete Kenny Chesney off your iPod; don't buy into the pedophilial experiment that is Taylor Swift; wash your hands of the manufactured empathy of Martina McBride; and let rust the robotic cynicism that drives the creation of phoney super groups like Rascall Flatts.

We're a better country than this, and Country Music is better than this.

My friend Martin Devaney is producing a group called The Porchlights. Look them up, you'll get more out of it, like putting romaine lettuce on your sandwich instead of ice berg.


A Running Diarrhea of the 41st Annual CMA Awards

An engineer friend of mine looked up from his less than average lunch, let out a soft burp, and said, “that was like eating a monkey’s ass in a hot, sweaty circus tent.”

The world is full of things we don’t want to do, and that’s why I haven’t deleted the November 7th broadcast of the Country Music Association awards from my DVR. And thus we begin the 20th iteration of this column’s slow death march through roughly 3 hours of hillbilly pop drivel.

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Top 100 Country Songs of All Time, 2007, Numbers 11-20

FirstWalley20072.jpg

The music industry is pock-marked with opportunities both realized and missed. For instance, Jimi Hendrix went on an embarrassing 3 year bender that ended in his pathetic death; and Led Zeppelin’s former pro-wrestler manager bullied the record companies and promoters into giving his band unheard of royalty rights for their music and performances in the early 70’s.

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The Top 100 Country Songs of All Time - 2007, the first ten

It's so hard to write anymore that I have to do it in spurts. Yeah, I know there's a new Wilco album out. I also know that your college roommate's cousin took you to your first String Cheese Incident show at Red Rocks and got you high then did you a favor in the front seat of your hybrid, thus making the music that night the most incredible you'd ever heard. June means lists. Reading lists, listening lists, viewing lists; you need to know what to skim, sample, and lose interest in as your Ritalin wears off so that you can impress everyone with your worldliness over Blue Moons with orange wedges at the "dive" bar where no one is under 28. I don't want to disappoint you, although I probably will, so, whatever. This is my 15th Annual post of the 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time, starting with the first ten, in the hopes that it will inspire me to finish and post the next ninety. If it doesn't, oh well. As you read this list, keep in mind my central belief that everything coming out of Nashville in the past 30 years is the product of a process designed to deliver a type of music to radio programmers so that they can then deliver a narrow demographic to advertisers and solidify their revenues. It's their P1 demographic, and they guard it jealously. Which is really a shame, because there are few cities full of musical talent like Nashville, Tennessee. The problem is that those with the talent are in the background, playing instruments and providing vocals to peacocks and peahens, who flash into the spotlight, make obscene amounts of money, and then spend the next few decades of their lives getting rehab and going through plastic surgery until they're almost unrecognizable. The whole thing is absolutely fucked, and it's the fault of men like Mick Anselmo and Gregg Swedberg. I offer this list simply as a counterpoint to this runaway train of ignorance and falsehood.

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The Plot Thins

From a random story about last night:

One of the series' executive producers, Cecile Frot-Coutaz of FremantleMedia North America Inc., said Tuesday she'd be happy with either contestant as the new idol.

"These are some of the most commercial finalists we've had since Carrie Underwood," Frot-Coutaz said. "Either one will make a great winner for the show and the brand. They both have the potential to sell many records."

I hate to toss the word "authentic" around so much...

...but some are more authentic than others:

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Police have issued arrest warrants for country singer Billy Joe Shaver after he shot and wounded a man outside a Texas bar, the entertainer's attorney said.

After Shaver left a bar in Lorena on Saturday night, a drunk, aggressive stranger with a knife followed him into the parking lot, said attorney Joseph A. Turner of Austin. Shaver shot him in self-defense, he said.

Police in Lorena -- about 80 miles north of Austin -- issued arrest warrants late Monday on charges of aggravated assault and possessing a firearm in a prohibited place, Turner said.

Shaver attempted to surrender to Austin police Monday night but was not arrested because the police did not have a record of the warrants, said Turner, who accompanied Shaver.

Lorena authorities could not be reached for comment early Tuesday.

Love of Country Music not necessary

Res ipsa loquitur:

Mornings in Minneapolis
One of America's best Country Stations, K102 has a very rare opening. One of my morning show people just got his own talk show, and I need the best 3rd wheel I can find. If you: 1) Are Young or Young Thinking; 2) Don't mind working hard to make new friends; 3) Have new ideas to bring to an already great show; 4) Don't mind the cold and 5) Can be a part of a tight-knit team, well then let me know.

This is an excellent chance for young Top 40 and HAC jocks looking to crack mornings in a Top 20 Market. You don't have to love country, but you'll end up loving it. If you do already know the format, that's good too. This is a good job at a great station.

Send mp3's, resumes and pictures to greggswedberg@clearchannel, don't call me please. Keep everything under 2MB.

Clear Channel Minneapolis is an EOE.

I would call this embarrassing, but the people who work in the Mainstream Country music industry are seldom embarrassed by anything.


RIP Kirk Rundstrom

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call'd fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'

--Henry V, Act 3, Scene 1

Kirk Rundstrom, singer, songwriter and guitarist of the punk-bluegrass band Split Lip Rayfield, died Thursday morning in Wichita. He was 38. He had been fighting the effects of esophageal cancer since February 2006.


One chemo filled shit from Kirk Rundstrom, lying steaming in a Wichita gas station toilet, is worth more than 10 Kenny Chesneys. This is a sad day for me. If you haven't ever bought a new or used copy of a Split Lip Rayfield CD, today would be a good day to go out and get one.

The above link also goes to a story where you can donate to Cancer research in Kirk's name if you're so inclined.

I only saw Split Lip Rayfield about 100 times. I've got nothing but good memories...hot sweaty ones, where I made a lot of bad decisions and regretted none of them. The band's music not only has muscle, but the sinews are like shiny bands of titanium, scratched only by the figurative bullets of life, that have ricocheted off of them into the dull ether of American popular sound.

Days like today make me sick.

The Big Game XLI

The keys to this game are Bob Sanders and Nick Harper. Sanders makes Indy's D a different unit because, surprise, he can actually tackle, something the other 10 guys can't do. Harper is hurt and plays CB for the Colts. Look for the Bears to test his side of the field, regardless of whether he's there, early, with Bernard Berrian. If these two guys play well for the Colts, it will be a good close game. If somehow they become the Achilles' heal(s), then it's going to be a long day for Indy.

It's important to note that Manning threw 9 interceptions in 16 regular season games; he's thrown 6 in 3 playoff games against the Chiefs (3), Ravens (2), and Pats (1). He had a pretty good 2nd half in the AFC Championship game, but, if he comes out flat against the Bears, that defense will bury him.

I would bet the Bears to cover the spread at the start of the game, for sure. At halftime, if Sanders and Harper look broke, sticky, and confused, I'd press, reverse the spread and maybe give a few more points. Once you see the Bill Simmons' coined "Manning Face," you'll know it's over.

And now, a word from the Possum

Q: What do you think about the state of country music today?

JONES: They say they're upgrading country music. I tell them they need to find a new title and let us have back our traditional country music. They've stolen our identity. I don't feel like the real thing will be back for quite a while. I'd like to see new artists recording traditional country music. Not for me. I just hate to see it not heard. I hate to see the new country artists not doing their thing because they're told what to do nowadays.


Kenny Chesney, Mick Anselmo, and Gregg Swedberg,
When George Jones gave that response in that interview he was talking about you, Mainstream Country radio, and the Nashville record companies. You're all still guilty. I just wanted to point it out one more time. Thanks for reading.

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