A running diary of the 40th Annual CMA Awards, live from Nashville Tennessee
If I'm about anything it's perspective; the above link lends perspective to what I'm about to do, for the fourth time, and why. But, let me add a few thoughts before I start the DVR and dive into this unholy mess.
Unlike past years, I decided to get a little supper in me first. When Monday comes around, and you have a block of cheese, a frozen pound of hamburger, some milk that's one day past its date, a half a purple onion and some noodles, you make homemade hamburger helper. This comes from the cooking school of Jack R Sparks, a man who would drain a can of fruit cocktail and add it to a mixed up box of Duncan Hines chocolate cake. When you're making due with what's in your pantry, you gotta doll things up a little, and that's what writing about the CMA's is all about. I just know the product I'm about to watch is absolute shit, so I'm going to drink a little beer, fire up my laptop, and try to doll things up a little. Please excuse the cuss words, because they'll come out eventually, if not in the first 5 minutes.
I've received about ten different youtubes of Faith Hill allegedly freaking out at not being named Female Vocalist of the year, so I know that's coming. I only watched one, and it may come as a shock, but I kind of believe her. However, I'm reserving the right to change my mind when the event presents itself; I'm also reserving the right to rewind it and analyze it, a la Monday Night Football. Slow it down, get a reverse angle. I also reserve the right to make fun of her bald husband, and his shit old man who broke my heart in October of 1980. Some wounds run deep.
Finally, I'd just like to reprint who should have won each of these awards, just so you have it fresh in your mind as the Wham of "Country" music, Brooks & Dunn, start piling up awards.
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR
Alejandro Escovedo--The guy's got a crap liver and he's been to the cities twice in the last year. On top of everything else, when he's on his game, and he has purposefully put himself back on his game for these performances, he'll break your fucking heart. If you hear him do "I was drunk," live, you finally get it that he never actually calls out "her" name during the song. It's a very poignant moment in live performance that I've rarely witnessed. Gives me the chills.
FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Tie - Tift Merritt and Jenny Lewis--Tift released an album's worth of live performances of her latest best songs. Jenny Lewis and her band released a record called Rabbit Fur Coat. They're the female co-vocalists of the year for different reasons: Tift for the uplifting quality of her record, Jenny for the dark murder of hers.
MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Ryan Adams--This is a no brainer for me. See below.
Charlie Parr--Who knows who's the best "new" thing out there? Why not pick somebody from my own backyard? Charlie's record, Rooster on Eclectone Records is deep fried in chicken fat, salted with cigarette ash, and washed down with the Hamm's from dirty taps in an old St. Paul bar. You want to get some grease on your fingers and some fear in your soul? Go get a copy.
VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
The Little Willies--I listened to their self-titled record once all the way through, then I went back and played the song "Roll On" over and over again about 50 times. You see, she's Ravi Shankar's daughter, and she likes to hang out with Willie Nelson. It all makes sense. Their rendition of "Nightlife" proves that it's a song about fucking sung by people who like to fuck, for people who like to fuck.
VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR
Brooks & Dunn, they're going to win it anyway...Wham! always wins. I think it bears repeating that Nashville is full of duos where one guy wears a cowboy hat, and the other is kinda "kooky." Typically, one of them is a good singer, and the other is a passable musician of some sort. One smiles all the time, and the other broods. Blah blah blah. If they loaded all of these acts on an old milk cart and shoved it off of a very high cliff, NONE of us would be worse off. Was "Boot Scootin' Boogie" really central to our way of life in this country?
SINGLE OF THE YEAR
(Award goes to artist and producer) This assumes radio airplay, which is as phoney as the $3 bills Mick Anselmo hands out at Utica on Christmas Eve.
MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR
Jerry Douglas the Dobro Player in Union Station. Just accept it. He's better than everybody at everything.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Jacksonville City Nights--Eat shit Nashville. Look, the guy's got a lot of baggage, but this whole disk is a non-steroidal musical homerun. He coulda, shoulda, and woulda been the Wunderkind of Country if he gave a shit. Some might say he was ripping off Gram Parsons right after he ripped off Paul Westerberg; but, for me at least, that's exactly what he SHOULD have done. Because where Country IS, and where it oughta BE right now is somewhere between Westerberg and Parsons, and far far away from Honky Tonk fuckin' Badonkadonk.
MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR
(Award goes to artist and director) Who cares? Videos are what screwed everything up in the first place. Kenny Chesney is 5'2" tall and bald, but music videos make him look like he's the 6 foot tall big dicked regular on the fist fuck all star team. I'll go out on a limb and say whoever wins this category is the phoniest of the phoney bastards in Nashville today.
MUSICAL EVENT OF THE YEAR
Ryan Adams and Norah Jones on "Dear John" on Jacksonville City Nights--If you don't get the creeps listening to this song, you can't get the creeps.
SONG OF THE YEAR
(Award goes to songwriter and primary publisher) Tie, Roll On--The Little Willies, Cowgirl Hall of Fame--Joe West
My gal and her friends constantly talk about their no penalty star sandwich. The two celebrities you get to roll around with in a 3some with no penalties if the situation presents itself to you. My musical metaphorical star sandwich consists of Norah Jones and Kelly Willis singing "Roll On" and "They're Blind" while running their fingers through my hair on a warm summer day. If you need to excuse yourself to throw up now, be my guest. I'm just sayin.
If you don't have a copy of The Human Cannonball, by Joe West, you probably don't live in the extreme southwest corner of Colorado somewhere, eating spit roasted rabbits stuffed with homegrown jalapeno peppers. "Cowgirl Hall of Fame," should have been the theme song to the movie Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, even though there's a song of the same title sung by everybody including EmmyLou Harris.
The only list you're going to read grounded in twang reality. If you're new to this exercise, and you think what you listen to on stations like K102, KEEY is country music, or even worse, you think it's good, you should stop reading now. As always, this will end up being an indictment of the Nashville system of picking singers and music based on delivering a demographic for the advertisers who sponsor country radio and should not be taken as an insult to the extremely talented and hardworking studio musicians, the real artists of country music, who'll never get recording contracts because they can't get botox injections, braces for their teeth, or saline bags for their boobs.
On with the show...
So they got Vince Gill back somehow. I don't think he's hosting, but he came out to sing the opening number. Brooks & Dunn, Vince Gill and Sheryl Crow, and somehow they miss the harmonies. At least they're not lip synching, but, ironically, now I wish they were. Vince wishes he could get off the stage all the sudden because, even if they're all in tune, they don't sound good together. Sometimes people just shouldn't sing together, like a grape jelly and mayonnaise sandwich. I like grape jelly, I like mayonnaise, but shit, nobody's that big of a hillbilly. I've said it once, I'll say it again, that one guy in Brooks & Dunn must just belly laugh about how much money he makes for wearing a hat and playing an acoustic guitar with the volume down.
Opening statement--the singer of Brooks & Dunn is obviously high. "We can still make country music right here in Nashville, Tennessee, how 'bout that y'all?" Okay, I had to pause the DVR when they introduced Eva "No I'm Not a Crazy Fucking Plastic Surgeried Hollywood Bitch" Longoria because they're on ABC this year. Everything they've said up to this point about who they are, what they're doing, where they are, and then this shameless bullshit plug for some TV whore who has absolutely nothing to do with Jimmy Rodgers and the price of tea in China is an absolute fucking embarrassment. Can we move on please? un-pause...
No one laughed at the "married for years" joke. Even their wives didn't laugh at the desperate housewives joke. Fucking horrible.
Here's the lineup...
Oh fuck, they just lost all credibility. Billy Ray Cyrus and his "new" Kurt Cobain hairdo is on this show. We could all stop watching now and know everything we need to know. It's over. This is just an exercise in seeing how many times I can get off the phrase "talentless piece of shit" from here on out. Why does he have Kurt Cobain hair? Is it because Nashville always hops that train about 5 to 10 years after it runs through pop, well marketed and watered down for the hausfraus? Nah, I must be some kind of conspiracy theorist.
Single of the Year...Leann Rimes, who was drunk last year, with Richie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi...she's tweaking this year, her mouth is way ahead of brain, Leann moved from booze to meth...Jon calmed her down, true professional...Nominees, Believe by Wham, Better Life by Keith hiccup Urban, Jesus Take the Wheel by here today gone tomorrow, Summertime by Satan, When I Get Where I'm Going by someone who can play his guitar. Winner, Believe, Wham. The talented one of the two just gave Nashville away, "lotta competition out there, lotta songs, lotta same theme content and all that..." No shit Country George Michael, go blow somebody in a city park bathroom. "Songwriters keep writin'"...this shit...he forgot to add...
Okay, here come our first ads...give it to me...c'mon....fuck, I'm sick of Mellenkcamp...some twins commercial...Target ad for Keith Urban, help fund his stay at spin dry...yada yada yada...
Carrie Underwood with Before He Cheats...if you don't think this blog makes a difference, check yourself...two years ago I very correctly accused all of these fuck heels of lip-synching and sleep dancing their way through the whole show, and so far, they're not doing that this year. Maybe the band's not really playing, but at least she's doing her Karaoke best, which is all Mainstream Country Music really is, hillbilly Karaoke on steroids. Which is perfect for someone who's won American Idol, the ultimate Karaoke contest. She's hot, but whatever. Let's move on.
Brad Paisley, playing his guitar. Hey Kenny Chesney, check that out, somebody who really plays his guitar. I'm going to pay him a backhanded compliment. This is what fuckheads like Ed Benson and Mick Anselmo reduce real country to, simple little songs in 4/4 time by guys like Brad Paisley in hats like that. It's got an arena rock feel to it, but a lot of club dirt on it, so it could be so much more, but they won't let it. Because see, if someone with some roots authenticity was allowed to really take hold, they wouldn't know what to do with shiny pieces of shit like Kenny Chesney and Carrie Underwood. My advice to Brad is to come out next year with a dip in and tell these cocksuckers to kiss your ass. Not only did he play his own solo, his guitar has a West Virginia Mountaineers logo on it, showing the man likes football. Fuckin A, I give it an A Plus.
Here's a clip of Johnny and June singing Jackson in 1977, showing all of these people what country music sounds like. It's quiet as a church in the audience because none of these people recognize the format.
Out of commercial, Wham has changed their suits. Sugarland. I want to pause this for a second. How is this different from Trick Pony? And, how is Trick Pony different from Brooks & Dunn? And, how is Brooks & Dunn different from Wham? There's one person in the duo who does all of the singing and hip grinding on members of the audience, and then there's some jagoff in a hat in the background playing an acoustic rhythm guitar who we just aren't sure is doing fuckall. It's like Stu and the Beatles, he was such a good buddy they wouldn't ditch him. This is fucking ridiculous. Are we not smart enough to accept the girl by herself? What's wrong with her that she couldn't score a deal on her own? Fuck you Ed Benson.
Okay, now I know again, Ronnie Dunn is the one who can sing, Kixx Brooks is the talentless fuck with the big wallet.
Gretchen Wilson with John Rich, without Big. The theme this year is quite obviously: Talented singer with jagoff in a cowboy hat playing acoustic rhythm guitar. This is hilarious. A + B = C you stupid fucks. Let me ask you this, why couldn't Gretchen come out on stage and sing this song without him? The answer, no fucking reason whatsoever. This is good, but I can't get over the fact that Phoney from Big & Phoney is back there. Did he take a Prilosec before the performance? Was it in the glove box of his Chevy? He adds nothing to this song. I'll bet ya $100 that guy playing drums has a better singing voice. I'll bet ya twenty his guitar isn't mic'ed up. She's too talented to be tethered to a fuckwad like that.
"Country has always been like a soap opera." No, it's been more like pro-wrestling.
Anyway, Song of the Year. Some soap opera shit heel and LeAnn Womack. 8th of November, Big & Stupid, Believe, Wham, Jesus, Yada yada yada, Tonight I Wanna Drink, Keith Urban, When I get Where I'm going Rivers something and George the other. Believe by Wham wins. The songwriter thanks Ronnie Dunn but not Kixx Brooks, you know why? Kixx Brooks probably wasn't even in the state when it was recorded.
They're just breezing through the Video of the Year award, you know why? Me. And people like me, lighting them up for focusing on stupid shit like video of the year. See? We're making a difference, even though Wham won for Believe. Pure hausfrau cupcake bullshit. Kudos, Ed Benson, for having the good taste to gloss over this meaningless accolade and proceed with the rest of this hollow tripe.
I'm just skipping the commercials. Fuck it.
Alan Jackson, who had the good sense to work with Alison Krauss. Electric piano, Alan playing his guitar, singing softly into the mic...these people in the audience are completely fucking baffled by what's going on up on the stage. This has something to do with the Century of country music that came before it, but look how it's considered an oddity, an established star throwing his weight around, "taking chances." The worse thing about it is that it's exposing the 2 dimensional quality of Jackson's current voice. Maybe someday he'll grow into this record, but right now he doesn't have the chops, although I give him an A for effort. Just for comparison's sake, when Willie showed everyone the way with Red Headed Stranger, his voice and phrasing, although an acquired taste, were a highly developed instrument in its prime. Jackson just doesn't have that yet.
Bad joke from Brooks about digging and bones. Awkward stupid fuck. Is it too late to beg Vince to come back?
Who is Little Big Town? Oh shit. Everyone knows this is...wait pause...everyone knows this is some sort of half-assed rip off of Crosby Stills Nash & Young and ABBA right? This song is Find the Cost of Freedom...somebody SUE! This is worse than Kingdom Come on the Monsters of Rock tour in 1988. Please don't fall for this. How fucking awful. They flash to Montgomery Gentry, the Cubby the Bear killers at the end, just to put the perfect punctuation on my point.
Dolly and Kenny singing Islands in the Stream in 1983. Okay. Let's move on.
Here's Rascall Flatts to disappoint us. I'm going to fast forward past this. This is tampon music. If you like Rascall Flatts, you're a fucking pussy.
Gary Allan with Kimberly Williams to present some award. Good for her, she's funny. Best vocal group, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Little Big Ripoff, Lonefuckingstar, Rascall Pussy Flatts, Sugarland (Wham revisited)...nice freudian slip by Gary Allan, "vocal grope" of the year...right before giving the award to Rascall Flatts...who suck...fast foward....
Randy Scruggs won Musician of the year. Good for him. Talented guy. Should have gotten TV time.
Okay here we go...let me rewind..."the beautiful and gifted woman who's about to sing for us all once said this, I'm just the instrument for the song to do whatever it's supposed to do...heal inspire encourage..." Here comes Martina to sing about...I can't predict...it's too easy...I've never heard this song before...give it to me...dreams...God...prayer...I do it anyway...there's an angel around the corner, I feel it...c'mon, give me the angel...nice melodramatic histrionic violins by the way...how is this a country song? I mean what the fuck? Sometimes people in Nashville don't record country songs, but I watch it anyway. What a one trick pony. Record a song about all the hillbillies smoking meth in our home state of Kansas, put some meat into this fluffer nutter you fucking hack.
Nice, Kris. He's drunk, even better. Putting George Strait in the Hall of Fame. Kind of a weak voice, and like Brad Paisley, reduced to a formula by men like Ed Benson, but the man rode rodeo and is trying to hang on to some authenticity. His voice has gotten a lot weaker over the years, poor guy. I fear he's doomed to be the Whisperin' Bill Anderson of his generation. I hope he lets himself go bald, though. Wear a hat, go chrome dome, just don't fall into the beaver pelt on your head trap that all the old guys fell into.
Classy acceptance speech by a classy guy.
Here it comes. Satan. Look, it's a fact, if you recorded this, rewind it here...for the opening bars, he was completely out of tune until the tubby blond guy with the acoustic guitar jumped in and saved him and got him the half step up he was missing. That's completely designed. At his big arena shows, everyone's so drunk, trying to fuck the slutty trailer trash girls in the audience they don't notice two or three bars of flat, tone deaf singing, but Ed Benson and Buddy Cannon don't shake dice on tequila, it's a mean drug. That's why Tubby's there, to get Kenny back in tune. This fucking sucks. If you like Kenny Chesney, there's not much hope for you.
Kixx just makes a joke about "stand still look pretty," it was actually funny and he looked momentarily uncomfortable...the lady doth protest too much methinks...Hamlet...
The Wreckers...who the fuck are the Wreckers? Oh shit...you know who they are...the label sat them down and said, "look, you're the next Dixie Chicks, but we don't want to hear any of that George Bush shit, and, you're going to record these songs, none of that Fleetwood Mac shit." A pile of money's a bitch.
Trisha Yearwood and James somebody to present an award. Duo of the Year...Big & Shitty, Wham, the Bearkillers, We're Not Lynyrd Skynyrd, and The Wreckers...Wham wins of course. Good God what a mess that award was. I mean, what an absolute trainwreck, right? Am I the one who's off on this, or was that the shittiest lineup of nominees of all time? Are you fucking kidding me?
The radio awards. If you won a radio award at this show, you should die. Fuck you, you fucking sellouts. Everyone of you is GUILTY of killing country music. Fuck you a million times.
Here comes Dierks and his hair. Okay, here's a guy who made some meaningful, meaty music at the beginning of his career, but, one year on the road with Kenny and he's singing about how love and the tour don't mix, with a laundry list of shit he's seen on the highway, yada yada yada. A + B = C, good fucking god, they got to him too. Nice hair asshole. Fuck you too.
Big, uncomfortable pause, the director of the show is an idiot. What the fuck was that? Brooks & Dunn come out with shit eating grins on their faces.
Eva Longoria to present Male Voc of the Year...Hairdo, Satan, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley and Jack Daniels...Jack Daniels wins. Does Nicole know that if he's drinking and fucking on tour, he's going to drink and fuck on the next tour too? He's a good looking guy, women aren't going to just stop throwing themselves at him. A letter from spin dry, how touching. Maybe he'll record something meaningful between the shakes and twitches.
Miranda Lambert...this song would have a chance if the people behind the scenes had a clue about how to mic and amp a live act. Unfortunately, they don't. Oh well, let's move on.
Musical Event of Year...Burning Bridges, Wham with Vince and Sheryl, A Phoney Song about a Couple in Trouble, Faith and Tim, Politically Uncorrect, Gretchen and the Hag, When I Get Where I'm Going, Brad and Dolly, Who Says, Bon Jovi and Jennifer Nettles...Brad and Dolly won, good.
Willie and Julio from 1983...definitely the lowpoint of Willie's career. Not a big fan of the tune, or the idea.
Faith Hill with the songwriter and Kelly Willis...Faith is leaning into the song, she claps her hands, off beat...oh well, nobody is getting sucked in to it...it must really chap her ass that Kelly Willis just smoked her singing back up just now...every time...every time...I'll take Kelly Willis over this Barbie Doll...she gets an A for effort though because it's a good song and she's not butchering it, even though Kelly smokes her every time they go to a bridge...
Who is this Josh Turner fucker? Oh yeah, he's that guy they always cut off mid song because he's actually singing a country song. For some reason, they've put him out on a platform out in the middle of the audience to start his song, probably so they can cut him off again. Wow, they're going to let him sing a whole song. Not on my tv though. A for effort, fast forward.
Horizon award, Kelly somebody and Billy theother...Miranda Lambert, Little Ripoff, Sugarland, Josh Turner (who I think was up for it last year and the year before) and Karaoke Underwood. Karaoke Underwood wins. Fast forward on the Bic Lighter.
More radio awards. If your station won an award, fuck you. Fuck you and die. Fucking sellouts. You fucking suck.
Kris to give Harold Bradley his Hall of Fame award. Fucking burner. Absolute axe man. Where's the Harold Bradley album? It never got recorded. Fucking shame. Congratulations Harold, you're a real talent. Look out over that audience at all the hacks.
Now Sonny James. Never a big fan. Countrypolitan nonsense. Oh well. He could play his guitar and write songs, good for him.
Jason Aldean...who the fuck is Jason Aldean? I give up. Are you kidding me? Next.
You know what, while I'm fast forwarding, fuck you Jason Aldean. That was horrible.
Sara Evans...this oughta be good...just forget that she and her husband are embroiled in a tawdry porn, drugs, cheating and more porn divorce...something about figuring out what love means. How fucking hollow. Hey Sara, you're in the middle of what might be the ugliest divorce in Nashville in decades, why not come out and sing something on point? Everyone is going to clap for you at the end of this because they feel sorry for you. You could have grabbed this moment to sing something really nasty pointed at that asshole, instead you went the happy cheerleader route. How shallow.
Kurt Cobain and Molly Cyrus to present the award for Female Vocalist of the Year...here's the big moment...Divorce, Faith, Angels and Puppy Dogs, Karaoke Underwood, and Gretchen Wilson...look, Faith was totally kidding. C'mon. You people relax. I don't even like her, and I know she was kidding, you could see it right after she did the what, she looked at somebody and said just kidding. Jesus. You all got my hopes up. Meanwhile, Karaoke is breaking down. Who fucking cares? You know, it was somehow kharmically metaphorically and metaphysically perfect that she got that award presented to her by Billy Ray Cyrus. Nothing in Nashville happens by accident. Don't break her heart, her achy breaky heart...
The Hag singing Okey from Muskogee in 73. Nice! No shit. Jesus, how did we fall so far?
The Bearkillers to present an award. Fucking Bearkillers. What a pussy. Fuck you you big jagoff. Album of the Year, Wham, Rascall Pussy Flatts, Alan Jackson, Satan, Brad Paisley. Brad Paisley wins, good for him. For whatever reason, he hugs the teddy bear killing pussy in the white jacket when he takes his award. Pop-gun toting pansy asshole. Sorry to smear Brad's well deserved award, but Ed Benson, one of the chief jagoffs in Nashville who knows that whatshisnuts Gentry is a teddy bear killing asshole, trotted him out there to fucking ruin this moment. Good job Ed.
We had to wait until the end of the show for Vince to sing. Still has too much good taste to come back and host these awards again. Remember when Vince was the host, there was at least a modicum of good taste, and we were guaranteed one good song. Oh well. We miss ya Vince.
The tribute to Willie from 85. yeesh. The 80's weren't really anybody's highlight, were they?
Barbra Mandrell to present Entertainer of the Year...Wham, Satan, Brad Paisley, Rascall Pussy Flatts, and Jack Daniels...Satan wins. That's all you need to know. Whatever. You suck. Well deserved my ass. Fuck you Kixx, you never answered my question, what kind of a name is Kixx? Bah.
God am I glad that's over. An all new low.
Just as a postscript, I'd like to say, how fucking hollow was that? It was almost 100% fluff, there was hardly one second that a real country music fan could latch on to. My highlight would probably be the Vince Gill song at the end. My lowlight would be a tie between Satan winning entertainer of the year, and Little Big Ripoff blatantly stealing Find the Cost of Freedom and singing it as ABBA. My sleeper is the apparent emergence of Brad Paisley from the rubble. Perhaps there's still hope for Nashville...perhaps...