Dear Texas/Red Dirt Country,
Hey, how it’s going? I’ve been reviewing and talking about quite a lot of your music over the course of Country Perspective’s existence. Normally I would be taking a look at the Texas radio charts today, but I’ve gotten quite frankly sick of it. This goes back to a problem I’ve had with you for a while, but now you’ve prompted me to finally spit it out. I’m not going to beat around the bush: You’re overrated. The top artists of the scene carry you to a reputation that is unearned: this bastion of music freedom from Music Row. Texas is where real country is made and appreciated. It’s so much better than what’s on mainstream country radio. Nope to all of this. Why? You ironically suffer from the same exact problems the mainstream charts suffer from: you all sound the same. You copy cat each other’s sound and most of you don’t stand out. You’re disposable. You coast on and hide behind the goodwill of steel guitars and fiddles that can easily sway some listeners when some of your lyrics can be just as cheap as the lines of a Blake Shelton single.
Now before you Red Dirt and Texas fans start pulling out the pitchforks and start listing names that are great of the scene, let’s acknowledge this. I don’t want this article to turn into some big pissing match of who’s good and who’s not, completely missing the point of it. As I said most, not all artists of the scene are disposable. There are multiple artists who are doing fantastic work and I’ve praised on this very site. For one of course you have the Turnpike Troubadours, the very best of the scene and a group that truly innovates and elevates their music on each album. Paul Cauthens truly excites me with the potential he showed with his debut album. You have veterans like Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers Band who have matured into great artists after dabbling with major labels. Cody Jinks is lighting the independent country fan base on fire and is poised to breakout big on his next album. And while he’s Americana, Chris King truly delivered a special album last year. Shane Smith and The Saints are a band I urge you to keep an eye on. There’s Lubbock acts like Flatland Cavalry and Dalton Domino truly bringing substance and meaning to their music. Cody Canada and the Departed, Sunny Sweeney, Jason Eady, Jamie Lin Wilson, Courtney Patton, Aaron Watson, Cody Johnson and I’m sure a few I’m missing are the great parts of the scene.
Then you get to the rest of the scene and it’s a parade of cheap imitations, the beating to death of the “I’m from Texas” theme, bad covers of 80s rock and wannabes who never will be. Most of the scene fails to stand out because they fail to innovate and elevate their music like the best I just mentioned. Quite frankly these artists I mentioned above did something else important: they went above the scene. They don’t become ingrained and dictated by the bullshit of the scene because scenes in general are terrible. It makes for an incestuous mindset and makes for complacency. You ever wonder why Chris Stapleton never got involved or close to these little scenes on his rise? Because they’re poisonous and sink careers as soon as they start to take off. It’s hilarious how so many in the scene sing about how much they love icons like Guy Clark and Merle Haggard in their songs, yet they wouldn’t give a damn about your music. As Turnpike Troubadours sings on “Long Drive Home,” you “all wanna be Hank Williams,” but don’t want to have to die.
So instead of maybe singing yet another song about the Alamo or George Strait’s cowboy hat or throwing rocks at more successful artists when it comes to innovation or doing bad covers of Beyoncé, maybe you should take a good hard look at your own music. Maybe spend a little less time singing about how Music Row is the devil and maybe sharpen up that songwriting. Maybe you shouldn’t coast on the brand of Red Dirt, which by the way positively means jack and shit. It’s based on region where the music comes from, but says nothing about the music itself. It’s as phony as when someone at mainstream country radio calls Sam Hunt an innovation of country music. I mean I’m sure some are quite happy to be a part of the Texas scene. That’s fine and dandy. But if you’re not one of the very best of the scene don’t ever call yourselves innovators and promote yourself as better than the music coming out of Nashville because you’re not (or act like you’re above criticism). You’re part of the morass of music people will forget about as soon as they blink, going back to my belief that 95% of all music is just forgettable tripe (4% is bad, 1% is good).
It’s really quite simple if you want my attention. Innovate or elevate if you want to earn your reputation.
Someone Tired of Artists Referring to Themselves as Texas Country Songsters
P.S. Give women a damn chance, Texas country radio. For crying out loud you’re somehow worse than mainstream country radio. It’s a joke how little attention women get in the Texas scene, as it’s seemingly a giant sausage party. It’s not like there’s lack of quality women artists in and around the scene.