For quite some time now I’ve been harsh on today’s country music, or more specifically, the state of today’s country radio. Now I’ve been joined by Vince Gill in its critique. It’s sad when Taylor Swift can dominate country radio and Merle Haggard can’t get a sniff. And I’m not talking about Merle’s old great albums I’m referring to his last couple of albums. They’ve been great yet completely ignored. Justin Townes Earle’s “Harlem River Blues” also did not receive any country airplay.
Vince’s career began with country-rockers Pure Praire League. He recently spoke with Great American Country’s Sarah Wyland. This appeared on their website.
Vince Gill released his latest album, Guitar Slinger, in October of last year, five years after his last release of original music. Now, Vince is in a time of transition. His recording contract with MCA ended last year and while he still wants to make new music, he tells the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that he realizes the country landscape has changed.
“I still want to have hit records,” he said. “You never get that out of your system. But in some sense, I have been shown the door.”
Vince, known for his traditional country sound as well as his love of bluegrass music, has issues with today’s mainstream country music. He feels fashion and gimmicks often take place of the truthful lyrics he reveres. “For me, it’s lost its traditional bent pretty severely,” he said. “I would love to hear someone write a song like ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’ rather than ‘You’re hot. I’m hot. We’re in a truck.’ It’s just mind-numbing to me.”
It’s not just the sound of the songs on the radio that have changed. The business side of Music City has seen plenty of change itself. Vince compared the digital revolution of music to a certain app in the app store that costs the same as a digital single.
“Income streams are dwindling,” he said. “Record sales aren’t what they used to be. The devaluation of music and what it’s now deemed to be worth is laughable to me. My single costs 99 cents. That’s what a (single) cost in 1960. On my phone, I can get an app for 99 cents that makes fart noises – the same price as the thing I create and speak to the world with. Some would say the fart app is more important. It’s an awkward time. Creative brains are being sorely mistreated.”