Who do you like better, Garth or Gershwin.
Well, if you're at this site, there's a good chance it's Garth. There's no denying the contribution he's made to country music. They say he's sold more records than the Beatles. Wow, that's amazing. Okay what's this article about? Well, I've noticed since I've been writing a lot on this very site, that I'm intrigued by what people like, and why. What are the causes that bring someone to like a Garth Brooks or a George Gershwin. Is the comparison a fair one? This is just one of those things that intrigues me. I suppose cultural differences have some effect. In this global society you can access just about anything with the click of a mouse button, or on your television set. I think it has to do with a sense of identity. Who do you relate to more? Who's your kind of guy? What makes you you?
I can relate
"Rhapsody In Blue" is one of George Gershwin's greatest compositions. I once owned a record of Andre Previn conducting the London Symphony Orchestra's version of Rhapsody. My father liked it a lot, actually I think it was his record. I remember us talking about the nuances of orchestration, the subtleties of the arrangement. He once told me that he aspired to create music that would be as universally accepted as that, but that when he was young his parents didn't have the money for the bus fare to New York.
More and more I see the two forms of music moving just a bit closer together. When I listen to the Byron Gallimore productions of Faith Hill, Jo Dee Messina, and Tim McGraw, I see a trend towards fuller orchestration, but with a country sensibility. The instrumentation is Nashville, but the production values are universal. The emotion, drama, and imagery have much in common with great classical pieces. I know I've beat this to death, but I think it's fine to display timeless musical values regardless of genre. I remember when being a crossover artist was a good thing, and I remember when it was a bad thing.
Ebb and flow
There will always be an ebb and flow in country music. It's inevitable. It's always been that way. Eddie Arnold was considered by many to be just too darned sophisticated to be called country. My father, Shania, Vince Gill, and others have been accused of the same thing. It can't go to far one way or the other. If it goes too traditional, you'll lose the broader appeal, as it will sound too ethnic for some people's tastes. Too twangy, something they can not relate to. If it gets to regionalized, the same thing will happen. It's one thing to talk about being proud of being from the south, it's another to deride being from anywhere else. You've lost an entire group of potential fans. Not good.
If it gets too Pop or the rockin' country gets too heavy, you've done the same thing in reverse. You've alienated your core audience. Maybe they can relate to Shania Twain's ballads, but if it sounds like a Broadway show tune, you've gone too far. It ain't gonna' get played at your local honky tonk.
Don't let it scare ya'
These are issues that we songwriters deal with every day. To greater or lesser degrees, but we deal with it. Part of our job is to APPEAL to the listener. Don't worry too much, because for every guy that wants to be the Frank Sinatra of Country, there's 10 more that just wanna' be George Strait. It all balances out. So, if you see somebody pull out an oboe at The Grand Ole Opry, don't let it scare ya' none, it's just a phase they're going through.
Still more stuff...
- Being taken seriously.
- How my father became a star.
- So, you wanna' be a country star?
- Who do you like better, Garth or Gershwin?
- You'll eat what you're served...
- The Media: Out with the old, in with the new.
- It's great exposure.
Thoughts on some of the people I've played with or known.
- Charlie Rich
- Freddy Fender
- Smokey Robinson
- Jo-El Sonnier
- Randy Meisner
- Billy Swan
- Flaco Jiminez
- Augie Meyers
- Doug Sahm
- Jerry Lee Lewis