Billy Joe Shaver Rivals For The Title Of Greatest Country Music Pistolero

Brody Vercher | April 20th, 2007

  • James Kelly brought up the issue of “young vs. old” and “new vs. traditional” at the Opry in a piece titled “Are Country Legends too Old to Cut the Mustard?” He cites artists like Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson who have taken creative chances to create a resurgence in their careers while other like Stonewall Jackson thought they’d be able to ride out on their Opry membership.

    Alas, things changed. The country industry boomed in the early 1990s and a new crop of young artists emerged, more likely to follow the business model of rock than country. As revenues increased, so did the demands of the fans. And the Opry management made adjustments to address their desires. As a result, hot new acts were allowed to perform on the Opry without paying the dues expected in the past. As Opry attendance increased, the old-timers saw their face time decrease.

  • The Houston Press says that perhaps Billy Joe Shaver is the greatest country music pistolero of all time, then goes on to list a few singers who might rival him. Such artists include Johnny Rodriguez, Johnny Paycheck, and George Jones.

    The Paycheck incident is very much like Shaver’s…Legend has it that Paycheck and his victim were disputing the relative merits of turtle soup vs. venison when Paycheck finally had enough. “I don’t like you and I’m going to mess you up,” he is alleged to have said, before shooting the man in the head.

    Nice.

  • Citizen-Times has a Q&A with Kenny Rogers in which they ask him “what is the secret to finding a great song?”

    I tend to find songs with stories that connect with me. “The Gambler” is a song that goes way beyond gambling. It’s a philosophy of life, about knowing when to walk away from something. “Lucille” was a wonderful story about a guy caught in bad situation. When I first started in this business, music was about the message and little about the messenger. Now, it’s about the messenger and not the message. Not that it’s wrong. Either one is OK with me.

    via Blogging Muses

  • The Tennessean has an authorless opinion piece filed in the business section about the CMT Music Awards. Whoever wrote the article has some pent up hostility towards Jeff Foxworthy.

    As much as it may want to, CMT can’t position itself as the only place in country music where the Dixie Chicks, Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash are celebrated figures while at the same time it invites a hack comedian to attack and ridicule some of these artists’ values on one of its biggest nights.

    Maybe I’m part of Foxworthy’s targeted audience, because I didn’t find anything particularly insulting. Most of it appeared to be tongue-in-cheek humor similar to what all comedians use when they’re hosting an awards ceremony. Or maybe the media needs to stop being so worried about others being politically correct all the time and quit attacking those they don’t agree with. Thicker skin much?

  • Update: One of our readers, Gloria, sent in a link that brings us much concern. The CMT Music Awards used Foxworthy as a diversion to blind the fans from much more pressing matters, matters such as these. Country music has been hijacked.

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  1. [...] at The 9513 thinks this writer is being too sensitive and recommends a “thicker skin”, but I agree with [...]
  1. Baron Lane
    April 20, 2007 at 8:42 am

    I wish Foxworthy was insulting, at least then he’d be interesting and maybe, occasionally, funny. I think he and Larry the Fake Redneck Guy (see his early 90′s routine on YouTube for a glimpse at the real Larry) are just dumb humor portraying Southerners as illiterate crackers. Like Amos and Andy in flannel and Wranglers.

    Give me Ron “Tater Salad” White any day. He’s funny, mean and smart

  2. Brody Vercher
    April 20, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    Ron is the man, he’s my favorite of the Blue Collar guys. I bought a DVD of his tater salad stuff, but I accidentally shipped it to Netflix instead of Apocalypse Now Redux. Oops.

    I’ve also seen that nerdy video of Larry, the contrast in styles is pretty funny. I think he’s actually got a degree from a nice university somewhere.

  3. Kevin
    April 21, 2007 at 11:07 am

    I think you’re proving the Tennessean author’s point by being dismissive of the complaints by those who weren’t Foxworthy’s target audience. I had no feelings about Foxworthy at all going into the show, but I had the same visceral reaction to his tasteless, nasty job hosting the show.

    He didn’t celebrate his own worldview; he showed a contempt for anybody who didn’t share his worldview, and made the point that if you didn’t agree with him, you weren’t what country music is all about. That infuriates me. I’ve been a loyal country music fan and consumer for seventeen years. I wore country music t-shirts to my high school in Manhattan and proudly defended the genre to anybody who’d listen, converting a few fans along the way.

    This attitude that you have to be conservative to be a country fan, or pro-war, and this attitude that somehow if you’re not, you’re anti-American, or you don’t go to church, or you have Hollywood weirdo values, was NEVER part of country music until the last five years.

    You NEVER would have seen an artist attacked from the stage of country music award show, let alone acts that were nominated that night (Dixie Chicks, Faith Hill). And you certainly wouldn’t have mocked a legend of the genre (Stonewall Jackson) and said that the reason the Opry didn’t put him on stage is because nobody wanted to hear him anymore.

    One of the reasons I started Country Universe was my frustration of having idiots saying things like Foxworthy did this week and claiming that they spoke for the country music audience as a whole. Why is it okay for Foxworthy to attack those of us he doesn’t agree with, and then you say that we should shut up and we respond in kind?

    I still love this music more than anything – I’d say 80% of my iPod is country music past and present – but I’m no longer proud to associate myself with it loudly because of the way the industry and country media seem to go out of their way to say that people like me are not only different from “country music” but held in contempt by it.

  4. Brody Vercher
    April 21, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    I find it hard to believe that you “had no feelings about Foxworthy at all going into the show” when in your live blog some of your very first comments were bashing on his opening skit followed up with “I’m glad Foxworthy has a hit to pimp again. Doesn’t have to drag out the redneck jokes.”

    Like I said in my above comment, Foxworthy wasn’t doing anything different than what other comedians do on other awards shows. He wasn’t attacking artists, he was simply using tongue in cheek humor to garner a few laughs from the audience. The same kind of jovial kidding that goes on among friends, except this time he was basing his jokes on stereotypes of the situation, hence my comment about people needing to grow thicker skin.

    I never said it was okay for Foxworthy to attack anyone, which is where our difference of opinion arises, I don’t believe he was attacking anyone and I’m sorry that you felt he was. I also never said that anyone should shut up, just quit attacking those that you disagree with, it comes off as entirely hypocritical.

  5. Baron Lane
    April 21, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    Wow, I never thought i would see guys arguing about the subtle complexities of Jeff Foxworthy. Foxworthy is guilty of not only being not funny (which IMHO he never is) but to sucking up to the least bright of the country audience. Toby Keith and Reba did it when they slammed the Chicks and music row does it, well, almost every time they release an album, politicians do it all the time. Appeal to your lesser instincts – rah rah war, rah rah god, boo global warming. It’s the mark of a coward to play to the mob instead of doing it outlaw style and blazing a different trail. How’s that for the country-tinged terminology? I live in Manhattan and there are tons of country (REAL country) fans here. Country music is not the house band to the GOP and anyone that pays attention to history know that. And if you think it is, you’re probably a Jeff Foxworthy fan…

  6. Brody Vercher
    April 21, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    I’m by no means a Foxworthy fan and I thought the awards show was just as bad as Kevin, but for different reasons.

    I agree that country music isn’t the house band to the GOP as well. I personally like to keep my politics and music seperate.

  7. Baron Lane
    April 21, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    Well said Brody. Trouble is much of great country music deals with class, specifically the poor, so there’s always an undercurrent of politics just under the surface. I kind of like that tension which can also be found in great punk, folk, sould and hip-hop music. It’s the stories of the disenfranchised.

    One things certain, I think this thread puts to rest that country music fans aren’t thoughtful…well you two anyways.

  8. Matt C.
    April 21, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    I agree with Kevin. Furthermore, it’s not just about attacking or insulting fine artists. Young fans, upcoming artists and would-be genre-hoppers are watching the CMT Awards to take the temperature of the country music audience. When Foxworthy says such stupid things, it just makes it easier for new artists to take a bland southern rock melody, throw in a few gratuitous references to God and country and call it a country song.

  9. Baron Lane
    April 21, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    “When Foxworthy says such stupid things, it just makes it easier for new artists to take a bland southern rock melody, throw in a few gratuitous references to God and country and call it a country song.”

    Foxworthy isn’t writing the book on country crap, but he is taking direction on their marketing plan.

    And any young artist that watches the CMT to “take the temperature of the country music audience” has one strike against them already.

  10. Kevin
    April 21, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    Brody,

    I’m sorry, but if you think the Dixie Chicks and Stonewall Jackson comments were good-natured jovial kidding, you simply weren’t paying attention. And there is nothing hypocritical about criticizing Foxworthy for his horrid performance. Given people like me were the target of his “serious speech” at the end, it’s a form of self-defense. Thank God I have a blog now so I don’t have to scream at the television like I did during the 2003 CMT and ACM awards. It’s a relief to know I’m not alone in my disgust for his shameful performance.

  11. Kevin
    April 21, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    Also, calling his opening skit stupid doesn’t show I went into the show with a bias against him. I happened to have found his opening skit w/Billy Currington funny two years ago. I called the skit stupid because it was stupid.

    As for this: “I’m glad Foxworthy has a hit to pimp again. Doesn’t have to drag out the redneck jokes.” What’s negative about that? I was naive enough to think it had freed him up enough so he wouldn’t have to rely on redneck jokes.

    He didn’t lose me until the jokes about Faith Hill and Dolly Parton. I actually criticized him bashing chicks before he bashed The Chicks.

  12. Baron Lane
    April 22, 2007 at 5:34 am

    I watched the damn thing last night (thank god for fast-forward) and Foxworthy was not only not funny and , to Kevin’s point, confrontational. If the host of the Grammys or the Acadamy Awards had taken such a strident tone against targeted groups (and in some cases, specific people) the producers would say “You’re alienating consumers. Not next year you don’t, bubba.”

    I’ve heard no blowback (well, except this thread) from Foxworthy’s comments as you might from, say, Don Imus. Sure Don Imus was a dick that finally got what he deserved but there were consequences to his comments and the media was quick to bring those consequences to bear.

    Foxworthy feels comfortable to alienate a broad segment of the American public he deems not real country fans (war protestors, Agnostics, Dixie Chicks fans) and nothing happens. The producers of the show let him go on with this rant and the media sees it and apparently is unfazed when a hick is a prick. For as down-to-earth and real as Foxworthy was trying to paint country music he sure made it come off as elitist and delusional. And if you disagree with anything Foxworthy or the rest of the flag wavers say, well, you’re just politically correct. For all tat swagger they sure seem thin-skinned to disagreement.

    And all of this narrow minded bullshit on a night when one of the most open minded and Liberal members of the country music legacy (and one of the few that actually wore a uniform) was honored, Kris Kristofferson.

  13. Kevin
    April 22, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    Baron,

    Good point on the incongruity between the Kristofferson tribute and the vitriol that began and ended the show. Johnny Cash was at the peak of his mainstream popularity when he came out against the Vietnam war. Lord knows he would’ve been Dixie Chicked if the media climate of 2003 had been around back then. They lionize him for all that he stood for while they cut down those who stand for those things today.

    Once somebody is dead, you can do that. Check your kid’s history books. They’ll tell all about Martin Luther King’s civil rights leadership, and his assassination, but always skip the last couple of years of his life, when he spoke out against the war. My fifth and sixth grade students read that speech in Social Studies, and write about how he uses the gospel to make his case for ending the war.

    That’s right, the gospel. I teach in a religious school. I even go to church and teach religious ed as a volunteer to public school students in the evenings. I’m opposed to war because of my faith; they’re inseparable in my understanding of Christ’s message. Foxworthy and other’s insistence that being a church-goer and pro-war are inseparable when they are actually contradictory in Christian theology borders is more than just ignorant. It’s a perversion of Christ’s message that borders on blasphemy.

    That’s all for now. I’m getting splinters in my feet from the soap box!

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