I’m back, and why I went away…

My last post on this site was all the way back in November of 2007, and after that last post, I walked away and left this little site for dead.  Why, you may wonder, after the great start and response that the site got in its first few months, would I abandon it?  The answer is never so simple to such a question. But, in all fairness, those of you who took the time back then to read my humble posts, and the almost 4,000 of you who have read them in my absence, deserve an answer.

I walked away after the 2007 CMA Awards.  “Country Music’s Biggest Night.”  Or so they say.  It was on that night, telecast from Nashville and done so to showcase our genre of music to the world, that country music sold it’s soul.  Not that it all happened that night, of course, but that was the night the lights went out and the very foundation of my country soul could take no more.  I wish that I could put my finger on just where it all went wrong.  Just when the music stopped.  I couldn’t.  All I know is that there, alone in the rain, I no longer knew what country music was.  Or where it was going.  I’d just watched a child make a complete fool of herself, and everyone not only cheered, but declared her a prodigy.  The show was more pop than anything I’d ever call country.  This wasn’t my Grandpa’s country.  It wasn’t Ol’ Hank’s country.  This wasn’t my country.  So who’s was it?  Or was I right when I said, on the day we laid Johnny Cash to rest, that Country is Dead?

To me, it seemed, it was.  And, as with any death, I grieved.  Country music was a life long companion with whom I’d shared most every high and low.  A close friend to say the least.  So, off on an oddyssey of grief I went.  I didn’t miss a single step.  I started with denial.  This had not happened.  I popped in every old album I could find, touching everything I could from 1940 to somewhere around the mid 70′s.  I said to myself that this, my friend, is country.  The way is should be.  Country is indeed alive and well, and better than ever.  Alive in my car, my house, anywhere I could choose what was playing.  But slowly, I realized that I was one of the few still living in the “good ole days”.  Try the radio, I told myself.  It can’t be that bad.  But, denial subsided as I realized that a lot of the crap on the airwaves was actually just as bad as I thought it was.  So on I moved to the next stage:  anger.  I listened to all the “new country” crap I could, soaking it up for hours at a time, and then unleashing it in angry tirades to anyone who would listen.  And, occasionally, to those who could have cared less.  I was a one man idiot crew.  I debated if I could single-handedly bring this new country mess to an end.  And yes, if anyone wondered, I really did get mad and yell at the radio, just hoping it would yell back.  I must here admit that it’s tiring to fight against something that doesn’t know you’re yelling, and would only laugh if it did.  So tired and frustrated, I moved on into bargaining. 

Let’s make a deal.  I can find enough good out there to keep it all rolling along.  For every Taylor Swift there’s a Dale Watson.  For every Rascal Flatts there must be at least one more Alabama.  I tried to sell this to myself for quite sometime.  Then, I looked at the theory for a good hard minute.  And I realized that this was a deal nobody else was gonna buy.  Real country can’t crack the top 40.  And, though it’s out there, it’s just not the main anymore.  Nashville went Hollywood, and I couldn’t bring her back.  So, resigned, I moved on to depression. 

There, I gave up.  I just made the sad but easy decision that I could insulate myself with my vinyls and my re-issues on cd so closely that I wouldn’t have to care anymore.  I could make it tolerable for me, and to hell with the rest of the world.  If they wanna buy that crap, go ahead.  Merle and I could sit and sing and cry in our beers.  We can find enough to worry about without even caring about where country music is today or where it goes tomorrow.  What difference would one man and his opinion really make anyway?  Just shut it down and feel sorry for myself.  So I did.  For months I did.  For many months. 

Then, as it always does, the final stage of grief rode into view.  Acceptance.  Slowly, gradually, I accepted it.  Country, my friends, is indeed dead.  At least my country, my little take on the greatest genre of music to ever grace three chords, is gone forever.  And that’s ok.  It really is.  Because things evolve, and even the best of dreams must end.  And the best part of it is simply this.  As long as I draw breath on this old ball of rock, country will live in me.  And I’m not alone.  There are a few of us left.  And we’re not really the quiet sort. 

So let it be said:  I’m tryin’.  It may take a while, but I’m gonna give it my best shot.  But the reviews are back.  The commentary is back.  The mouth has returned, and this is gonna be fun.  If you’re looking for politically correct, move on.  If you want to hear it smoothed over and sugar coated, then go buy yourself a copy of Country Weekly (from now on known around here as Country Weakly.)  The gloves are off, my friends.  There are no holds barred.  It’s on, and I’m calling all takers.  Read on, and comment away.  Cause this life has no guarentees, and this little site may fall on its collective face, but its gonna be on heck of a ride.  Welcome back… to the new Nashville Now!

13 Responses to “I’m back, and why I went away…”

  1. You took the words right out of my mouth! I’m still going though the angry stage, but I’m trying! Thanks for putting down in words what a lot of us feel!

    Welcome Back!

  2. Just stubmbled on your blog and hope you keep it going. LOVE this post…

  3. Welcome back Mike. Wow! I am blown away by your talent for communicating what is going on inside your heart and head. You are good at what you do my friend, therefore you need to keep doing it.

    Everything changes … nothing stays the same.

    What Country Music is today, good and bad, is not what it will be tomorrow. But whatever it does become tomorrow, I’m glad you’ve decided to stick around to influence it.

    Remember what Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Now, I am not equating some of the changes you wrote about with evil, but I am sure you get the point.

    Keep in the battle!

  4. Mike,

    Glad you are back!

    I work for a Nashville based PR firm and I would love to add you to our distribution list.

    Shoot me an email christy@aristomedia.com!

  5. [...] a lot of soul-searching about what he wanted his blog to be.  I highly recommend reading his post, “I’m Back, and Why I Went Away”.  I only wish I could be so candid and articulate about the “why” behind the many [...]

  6. Thank you SO MUCH for this post…I know it’s over two months later than I’m commenting, but I just found you via Country Universe.

    You have hit the nail on the head about why I long hated country music. Once I’d go into convulsions at the first twnag of the pedal steel guitar, but now that I’ve figured out it’s the Hollywoodified, formulaic, “safe” crap I can’t stand, I’m so much better and can admit to my friends, family, and students that I’m a country music fan and scholar.

    I’m a college English professor whose area of research is country music and its links with Southern culture. I taught a course on it this summer, and it seems to have been a hit. I hope you won’t mind my sharing this post with my students, as many of them have voiced some of the same concerns you have.

    Thank you again! I look forward to checking your blog early and often. :-)

  7. Mike,

    have you seen the latest song released today by Aaron tippin?

    Click here for more info:

    He was inspired by Newt Gingrich to record a song about oil drilling.

    http://www.americansolutions.com/General/?Page=5211e44c-32fd-40a8-919f-1449531d61da

  8. Angelia Hill Says:

    THANK YOU! You know, the only real country I hear today is George Strait, Alan Jackson, Joe Nichols, Blake Shelton. But I stick with Country. I was “Country When Country Wasn’t Cool” ! And I took a lot of crap about that. But thats ok.

  9. I agree wholeheartedly. Todays artists have never picked cotton, shucked corn, driven a tractor all day, etc., etc., yet they try to sing country. I’m a woodcarver, and the old saying is, “You CAN’T carve that which you DO NOT KNOW”. Same applies to writing and singing country music. Just ask George or Merle. Nuff said.

  10. Found your website through Theboot.com. And I to say that if you really want to see country music at its best, go to http://www.savingcountrymusic.com.

  11. Virginia Golden Says:

    Thank God ther is someone out there who has not lost his rabbit mind. People ask me what sort of music I like and I say jim reeves, eddy arnold, Hank Sr. Red Foley and I could go on but you get my drift. Please let me know where I can find the REAL country.

  12. Hey Mike<
    Where do I pierce my belly button? As a songwriter,who would I give a song to.THESE ARE NOT ARTIST THEY ARE CORP MONKEYS. This genre of music played everyday in the late 80s/90s. We called it POP a pimple on Rocks Ass an a piss pour excuse for Southern Rock. With you 100%. Nashville Has Turned To Trashville,its lost its magic.

  13. [...] a lot of soul-searching about what he wanted his blog to be.  I highly recommend reading his post, “I'm Back, and Why I Went Away”.  I only wish I could be so candid and articulate about the “why” behind the many [...]

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