Last month was the time of the most insulting awards show for the bluegrass community. The CMT awards consist of a night where the greatest current “country” music is presented and is the time of year when the greatest “country” artists perform and win awards for work. While there is nothing wrong with a music awards show, they are obviously not letting the right people win because the winners do not play country music. They play pop music. There’s a difference. Whether it is Taylor Swift singing a song she wrote out of a journal when she was eight years old and broke up with her first boyfriend, or the less talented Brad Paisley singing some brain frying song that enrages one to listen to, the CMT is the worst awards show of the year only because it consists of awarding the worst music that once was a proud genre full of honkey tonk and songs about one’s alcoholism.
Sadly this event is held in Nashville, the most noble and celebrated city in country music, which I have had fond memories of, but now I can only think of how it is the hot bed of ountry music stars like Toby Keith, who is one of the most boring musicians I have ever heard of in my life and a co host of this years awards. This bore of a host was only one of the factors that made this night in music sub par compared to other award shows like the Oscars where they actually try to get somebody funny instead of somebody you can’t even understand because his voice is too low.
One performance on that night was George Strait with the love ballad, “Give It All We Got Tonight.” As this is country music, and not a more flashy type, George had a STRAIT forward performance where he did not leave his chair. This made this performance extra long as I could not perceive a bit of energy in his body. This was probably due to the fact that the song was dragging and boring and even George knew it. Even though it was nominated for Song of the Year (go figure), it was a terrible choice because it had no energy or flare and the lyrics were not very astounding.
Since it was the CMT awards there was no way they could do it without pop sensation Taylor Swift. The setting for the performance was a cafe in Paris, which seemed mighty random and forced. Again this was a boring performance, even for her standards where at least she usually had enough creativity to create something clever which made her such a success in the first place. Her performance and her song also seemed very phoned-in and generic, unlike her past songs that while were not my favorite, had strong pop hooks and an attitude that can excite the tweens across the world, but not real country fans which are actually bluegrass fans like ourselves.
Through this tough and torturous experience of watching the Country Music Awards, I believe I finally have an hypothesis for what happened: Throughout the last roughly 35 years country music has slowly been less about the message and more about the money that was involved, and in a musical sense moved away from the grittiness of rock and roll bluegrass and into a type of music with the same instruments as its bluegrass cousin but more focused on the general masses that prefer stupid pop hooks along with cheerful messages about the good days on the tractor or the feeling you have for the love of your life. But instead of the song being about how this person left you, it is usually a song about how much you love them and want the perfect romantic moment. This change has diminished the sound, the messages and the overall feel of a music you and I have loved like Merle Haggard and not like Kenny Chesney.
I decided to write about this topic because I found it the best time and the most opportune time because of the recent loss of the incredibly talented and soulful George Jones. After his death I went on Youtube to see some videos and I was in awe to see only around 100,000 views for this talented symbol of country greatness, while George Strait’s performance at the 2013 CMTs had 500,000 views. The conclusion I came to after seeing this catastrophe was that popular culture must be stopped and I have to be the one to do it. While it seems counter productive to put this on a bluegrass website, it is the best I can do. So I am suggesting a call to action to never conform to the country music of today and stay strong in the traditional section of country music like George Jones so he can always be remembered and never be out of the minds to real country fans that didn’t watch the CMTs.