Reba McEntire (f. Skip Ewing) – “Every Other Weekend”
I often criticize the current state of country radio. I say it’s too homogeneous, too fluffy, too commercial. I write about artists and songwriters who pander to their perceptions of what the audience expects. Yes, I complain about a lot of things that I think are wrong in this genre, this format, and this industry.
But despite all of this, the fact remains that I still love country music. And one of the reasons I love it as much as I do is because I’m convinced that in country music, more than in any other genre, there exists the potential for moments of genuine magic.
It’s easy to lose sight of that fact when everything feels so domestic. It’s easy to lose faith in the music’s ability to deliver something substantive when almost everything we hear sounds so contrived.
But then the song comes. You know the song. The song that makes you stop. The song that makes you listen–really listen–because it gets under your skin and demands your attention.
And while 99.9999% of the country music on the radio today is designed to reinforce our faith in something–life, love, America–that is the song, the .0001%, that restores our faith in the music.
And I don’t think we see many of those songs in Pop. Sure, on a song by song basis, Pop takes us to town. Those cats know how to write a hook.
But every once in a while someone in country music shows some balls, and we get a song that really matters. It’s Jennifer Nettles sitting down and pouring her soul into “Stay,” and watching Mercury have enough courage to send it to radio. It’s Deanna Carter striking gold with a five-minute waltz.
Those songs come about because people are willing to take a stand for the music. Because they realize that they have the opportunity to create something that matters, something that will actually impact people’s lives.
When the drama surrounding “Every Other Weekend” started to shake down, and it became apparent that the Reba/Kenny version of this song, as it appears on Reba’s Duets album, would not be viable for radio, Reba could have gone out and asked any one of a hundred other artists to record Kenny’s part. She could have, for example, called up her good friend Ronnie Dunn.
But she didn’t call Ronnie, or Vince, or Alan. Instead she turned to the songsmith himself, someone 99.9999% of the world has never heard of.
And that takes balls.
Make no mistake: Skip Ewing is Nashville. And “Every Other Weekend” is a better song with him singing on it than with Kenny Chesney singing on it.
Ewing is a better singer. His voice is more emotive. And, unlike Chesney, he actually understands the concept of melody.
I like Kenny. I can sing along to “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem,” on a hot summer day with the best of ‘em. And as much as I complain about the rest of what’s on country radio, the truth is that I still listen. And I still like it. Even though I am acutely aware that most of it is complete and utter dreck.
This, however, is the .0001% that makes me proud of country music.
I hope radio plays the hell out of this.
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