“Music is a language that doesn’t speak in particular words. It speaks in emotions, and if it’s in the bones, it’s in the bones.” ― Keith Richards
Though, I haven’t read anything on the subject and I am no expert, I have lived a long time. And, I’ve been listening to music for the majority of that time. I also experienced the 1960s British Invasion, a phenomenon called ‘The Beatles,’ and the hard rock and roll era of the 1970s. Of course, I survived Disco, Grunge, Rap, and
other various music genres, but the one I’m most fascinated with right now is….COUNTRY! Not the ‘my wife left me, the dog died, and my truck broke down’ kind of country, but the new country of today! I realize that diehard classic country fans hate the new stuff, but I don’t…and neither do a WHOLE LOT of other people! And, here’s my assessment on why, besides the fact that it is a whole lot less depressing! Rock and roll has faded away and there isn’t much to take it’s place. The days of the classic rock craze is gone, and there’s a huge empty space to be filled. And, guess who filling it. Yep, new country! There’s a new generation of country rockers, who were raised on their parents’ rock and roll. If you listen carefully to their songs, you will hear references to many of the greats! Some, like Eric Church and Keith Urban have songs titled, “Springsteen” and “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” after their rock idols. There are some crazy great rockin’ guitarists in country music right now, namely Brad Paisley, Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban. And, the bad boys of country – Eric Church, the Brothers Osborne, Chris Stapleton – have become very popular, very quickly. Brothers Osborne seems to me to be filling the shoes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Eric Church marches to his own drummer, reminding me of Curt Cobain or maybe even a young Bruce Springsteen. Chris Stapleton seems like someone you wouldn’t want to mess with in a dark alley or even the light of day. But man, can he shred a guitar!
Having been a rock and roll loving girl all my life, and moving to Nashville a few years back, my curiosity peaked, my eyes opened wide, and my ‘analytical’ skills sharpened. I work for two different concert venues, and when I’m not working, I’m usually at a show. I’m in it, around it, consumed by it. And, I pay attention. Sadly, there are very few genuine rock and roll bands coming up in the ranks. No one has come close to filling the shoes of Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, or the Who. As far as I’m concerned, great rock basically ended with Metallica, Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and now there’s a wide open space to be filled. My question is…why isn’t anyone filling it? Where are the young rockers hiding? Why isn’t anyone forming new quality rock bands? I’m truly baffled! If anyone is paying attention, they would see that there is a huge gap in the rock and roll world that needs to be filled! The Black Keys tried to. So did Linkin Park, Imagine Dragons, and Green Day. But, they haven’t come close to reaching the heights of their predecessors! But, country music has! They are
skyrocketing to fame and put Nashville on the world map. It is now the “IT” city, growing in tourism and population. I live and work in this town, and I see the tens of thousands of people that come visit it every single weekend, drop a fat pile of cash in the bars and music venues, all in the name of new country. In my lifetime, I’ve seen this craziness happen twice before. When the British Invasion came to America, and again when hard rock exploded onto the scene in the 1960s and ’70s. I feel we’ve been cruising along for a decade or two with whatever music happens to be the ‘flavor of the day,’ with a hit or two here or there. But, it sure seems obvious to me that the current popularity of country music is the biggest musical explosion we’ve had since Elvis, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones. So, buckle your seatbelts and hold on to your seats! My prediction is that this decade will go down in musical history! Just watch and see…
“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” ― Bob Marley
“Be present in all things and thankful for all things.” ~Maya Angelou
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” ~John Lennon
It has now been just over a year that I was randomly introduced to the music of Chris Stapleton, (http://www.chrisstapleton.com) a rising star in the Nashville scene. Though, he’s been well known in these parts for many years, I had never heard of him. But, since I had just started my job at the Ryman Auditorium (https://ryman.com) in Music City (in Sept. 2015,) I found myself listening to the music of upcoming performers, so I could
become familiar with them before I worked their show (and duck inside the auditorium to watch a song or two!) Working at such an historic venue that is on the smaller size (seats 2400 people,) and having a lifelong love of music, I didn’t take my job lightly. I was working in the place that, for 31 years (1943-1974) was the home of the infamous Grand Ol’ Opry; the stage that once held Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Minnie Pearl, and so many more! And, though I wish I had been there to experience that history, I recently realized that I am experiencing history by being amongst these hallowed walls, watching new up-and-comers, as well as old classics, perform in the Ryman Auditorium! This building, in itself, is history to the past, present AND the future! And, I’m here witnessing it all…live!!
Because of my lifelong love of music, and because I now live in Music City and work for a concert venue (or two,) I like to familiarize myself with upcoming performers by listening to their music before their show. I was going to be working two upcoming shows by some guy named Chris Stapleton, so I spent a few days in advance listening to his stuff. I liked what I heard – he had a low, resonating voice, his songs were melodic and catchy, and his lyrics were deep and meaningful. So, I was looking forward to popping my head in the auditorium for a listen when I had a chance. To my surprise, and something I wasn’t expecting, was that his music would shoot straight to my bones, and I would be absolutely awed by his voice. Firstly, the acoustics in the Ryman are second only to the Mormon Tabernacle Church, and secondly, the power in this man’s voice is God-given and rare. I felt I discovered something special. I walked out of the auditorium and announced to my co-workers, “I am a new fan!” and told them to get their butts in there to take a listen! His two shows at the Ryman were such a success that they immediately booked him for three shows for the following March. What no one could predict was what was going to take place just six weeks later during the CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville! And, I was there to witness that, as well!
On November 4, 2015, this same guy was up for a bunch of awards at the CMA Awards. And, who happened to be working that show? Me! And, by some crazy act by God, the Universe, the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars, I got assigned to ‘guard’ the myriad of machinery that it takes to put on such a show. Boring, you say? That’s what the supervisor who placed me there, said apologetically. But, for this music nerd, it was Heaven on Earth! I was behind the stage, one level up, with a fantastic view of the behind-the-scenes action! I saw the entire show from behind, and it was fascinating! I watched Hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley behind the scenes, saw which performer was coming on next, and could see exactly how quickly and precisely each band’s set was moved in and out before and after their performance! It was amazing! For a live show, it went off without a hitch! And, because I was situated behind the stage, I could look out into the audience and see all the famous country stars in the audience watching the show! I had to pinch myself to believe I was really doing this! I was there when Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean, Kacey Musgraves, Keith Urban, etc, etc, performed live. But, the highlight of the night was the ass-kicking performance by….Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake!! Whaaat?!?! That’s a strange combination! But, apparently not so much. Both are southern boys (Kentucky and Tennessee) on the music circuit, so their paths have crossed numerous times over the last 3-4 years. I’m not sure whose idea it was to pair them up for the CMA performance, but it was brilliant! It absolutely stunned the crowd and, along with the fact that, later that night, Chris would win three awards – Male Vocalist of the Year, New Artist of the year, and Album of the Year – it was an evening that would go down in music history! (see the performance here: Chris and Justin) And, I was there!! You could’ve knocked me over with a feather, as I felt like I was floating in Music Heaven after that night! Then, having experienced the entire show from behind, I watched it on TV the next night, at home, to see it from everyone else’s perspective. And….wow, so much went on that I couldn’t see when I was there, but the cooler stuff (in my opinion) was seen from my little perch in the background. Oh, what a night!! What an historical night that I will never forget!!
Message: Appreciate the here and now! We can get so busy, with life and in our heads, that we miss the meaningful moments. I had been so dreamy and wishful that I had lived to experience the classic performers of the Ryman past, that I almost forgot to realize that I was actually doing it in the present! And, that some day I will be telling great stories of performers I am seeing now, and who will be in the history books later!! It’s happened before, as I’ve had younger music lovers touch me after I told them I spent a lot of time at concerts at San Francisco’s historic Winterland, back in the day! They were so impressed and envious that I got to ‘live rock and roll history!’ And now, I’m doing it again (actually, we all are!) in Nashville, Music City, USA!! So, slow down and enjoy the present, because you can never get it back again. Many times we look back on things and wish we appreciated it more at the time. Well, now is the time! Appreciate and enjoy every minute of it! It won’t last forever!