Class of 89: Alan Jackson

Alright. For those who haven’t been keeping up, I’ve been covering the “Class of 89” in the last couple of posts. This, of course, was the year that Alan Jackson, Clint Black, Travis Tritt, and some guy named Garth Brooks came on the scene.

Today, I’ll be talking about Alan Jackson.

Alan Jackson’s an interesting one. He’s a great artist, but there’s just something odd about his career. At the time, Country music was becoming more Rock/Pop oriented, and yet, Alan Jackson was able to make a great career by sticking closer to traditional Country roots! He’s always been a great singer! If you notice, he’s kind of like George Strait. He’s one of those singers that straps on a guitar, but doesn’t play it much. The one thing I remember about Alan Jackson more than any other is when he debuted “Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning” during one of the Country Music Award shows. It was chilling, and is still a classic today. When I was young, Alan Jackson was one of my favorite artists, and he still is!

If you’ll recall, when he came on the scene, artists wouldn’t actually “play” on live TV. They would lip-sync, and he didn’t want to do that, so he had his drummer play without sticks, so it would obviously give away the fact they were lip-syncing.

The only thing that bugs me about Alan Jackson is the fact that for a few years, he was WAY over-saturating the market! He would put out 1 or 2 albums a year, instead of 1 every couple of years. I’ve heard that it took a toll on his record sales.

Regardless of his record sales, he’s always been a great artist, and certainly the closest to traditional Country from the Class of 89!

One more odd thing I’ll throw in: If you pay attention, anytime there’s any sort of tribute to George Jones, Alan Jackson ALWAYS sings “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” Love his version of it! Just find it interesting that nobody else ever does it, unless they sing it WITH Alan.

Alan Jackson’s audition on You Can Be A Star. Listen to what song he chose to do: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlBdFVUWicQ

Alan’s lip-sync in 1994: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEPNgJ17kGQ

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Class of 89: Travis Tritt

As mentioned before, I will be doing a series of posts about the “Class of 89” in Country music. This, of course, was the year that Alan Jackson, Clint Black, Travis Tritt, and some guy named Garth Brooks came onto the scene. I’ll be doing one post about each artist. My first one was about Clint Black. For my next post, I’ll be talking about Travis Tritt.

Travis Tritt is probably the one who has been able to go against the Country music establishment, and still build a tremendous following and career for himself! He was seen as the new “outlaw,” and certainly he proved that to be true many times. Of course, the Billy Ray Cyrus feud, where Travis was the only guy in the world at the time, with the guts to say that “Achy Breaky Heart” was a terrible song! At first, everyone sided with Billy Ray. Today, we realize that Travis was right.

However, Travis Tritt was not just about an image, or a heavily-publicized feud. He was about the music! While it’s always been WAY more than obvious that he took a lot of things from Hank Williams Jr., he’s one of the few artists that will admit that. His stage shows are energetic, and he’s always played a great mix of Country, Rock, and even Blues and Bluegrass at times. He’s served as a huge influence for myself! He’s a great guitar player, and yet not many people know or realize it. He’s a great songwriter! His singing style is unique and constantly imitated, yet never duplicated. His recent re-release of an album that Randy Jackson produced a few years ago featured a new duet with his daughter, which became a big hit online! Travis is still able to stay relevant today, without the help of the Nashville establishment!

Travis Tritt’s latest single with his daughter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzPtf2RFn3g

A concert that Travis Tritt recorded live from Hot Springs, Arkansas a few years ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLTxfkTP69o

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Class of 89: Clint Black

I would like to take a little time in the next few posts to talk about the infamous “Class of 89” in Country Music. This, of course, was the year that Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, Clint Black, and some guy named Garth Brooks came onto the music scene. I’ll be doing one post about each artist of this particular “Class.” First up: Clint Black

You might be asking why I chose Clint Black first. Well, I’ve always felt that Clint Black is one of the most underrated artists ever, and certainly the most underrated in the “Class of 89.” Clint has always been a great songwriter! He’s written or co-written the biggest majority of his catalogue. He’s also a very underrated musician! There are a lot of great guitar players, but Clint Black gives the most respected players a run for their money. He has an incredible lead style, and a distinctive rhythm, that incorporates melodic lead within the rhythm at times. His tone is unmistakable, especially with his electric guitar. It’s clean, with the right amount of crunch to let the notes hang around a little while. And, it wouldn’t be right to leave out his harmonica playing. For somebody to be selected by Jimmy Buffett as a harmonica player, they’ve got to be pretty good! Clint is one heck of a harmonica man!

All in all, Clint Black has been one of the most uniquely talented artists that Country music has seen! He stays with traditional Country roots, while throwing in some Rock or Blues, just to color it up a little. It’s amazing to me that he doesn’t still sell out arenas!

Clint tearing up the electric guitar on “Nothin’ But The Tailights” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbnNPxal_c4

Clint playing some great harp on “Don’t Think Waylon Done It This Way” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7Nbdikqf5A

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The Price of Gasoline: Who’s to blame?

When talking about gas prices, many Americans become frustrated, due to the usually high prices we have to pay. However, it seems that nobody really knows who’s REALLY to blame for this, although they’re more than convinced they’ve figured it out. As always, through the years, Americans have chosen to blame the President. Not just Obama. This started long before anybody even knew who Barack Obama was. Former President George W. Bush and current President Barack Obama have been in office during what has been arguably the worst period for gas prices in recent years. Because of this, they take the blame. What’s worse, is they rarely can have any control over it.

First off, gas prices are determined by the average price of oil, per barrel. Because the U.S. has been known to get oil from other countries, the supply of these countries determines how much we get. It’s simple supply and demand, in this aspect. However, that’s not the only factor. Some of the biggest problems are natural disasters in places that serve as sources for our oil (U.S. Energy Information Administration). The state of the economy also has an effect on this (U.S. Energy Information Administration).

The President can only have a direct effect on gas prices in one way: To approve and/or change an energy plan. Barack Obama’s administration passed an energy bill that cut down foreign oil imports by 10% in 2011. (CBS News) This can have a positive or negative effect on gas prices.

But, the point of this is, it’s not easy for a president to have an effect on gas prices. Even in the campaign for the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama spoke in Ohio, and told them “You’re paying $3.70 a gallon for gas – two and a half times what it cost when President Bush took office” (NPR). He was obviously able to convince people it was the president’s fault, then, but now he wants people to know that there’s nothing he can do about it. Funny how that works, huh?

http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=1&t=10
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/poll-most-think-president-can-impact-gas-prices/
http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2012/03/13/148518457/blaming-presidents-for-higher-gas-prices-misses-bigger-picture

What Makes A Good Love Song?

You hear them every day. You sing along. They win awards. They stay on the charts for a little while…but what REALLY makes a good love song? Obviously, first and foremost, it has to be about love in some way, but what else does it need? I hear love songs on the radio every day, and hardly any of them, especially the new ones, are worth listening to. Here’s how I can tell if a love song’s good: If I listen to it, and I feel some sort of strong emotion, aside from hatred of the song, it’s good. If it takes me back in time, it’s good. If it paints a fantasy in my head, it’s good. But, how do you do that? First, you HAVE to have a great melody! That’s what makes love songs so memorable. It has to be so recognizable that, even when somebody hums it off-key, you know what it is. Second, it has to be more than just “I love you. You’re cute. La la la”, or something like that. There needs to either be a story, or it needs to target a specific aspect of love. Here are some examples:

Patty Smyth & Don Henley – Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough: This song addresses the way that you can get carried away in love. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdzbjUWu2VU

Charlie Wilson – There Goes My Baby: Pretty much anything Charlie Wilson has done counts as a good love song, but this one specifically addresses the way that some guys can just see a woman, and think she’s the one, without knowing anything about her. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hd0T5BuIl0c

John Prine – Long Monday: Nobody really ever thinks of John Prine as a guy who writes love songs, but Long Monday is one of the best love songs I’ve heard in a long time! It’s about a guy who spends the weekend with his girlfriend, and he knows he won’t get to see her again until the next weekend, so he has her on his mind all week. Hence, the title. You won’t see her for another week? Boy, it WILL be one LONG, LONG Monday! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvRpUUpSKrk

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Is Garth Bringing Out The Best In Everybody?

I’ve noticed that, since Garth Brooks announced his official comeback for a 2014 world tour, many artists have decided to throw their hats in the ring for some competition. What’s odd, though, is everybody’s bringing out their biggest and best ideas to try to compete. Obviously, Garth’s going to be a sellout in every city. He’s been gone from touring for about 12 years, and he was still selling out then. Since Garth’s announcement, Styx & Foreigner announced a co-headline tour with special guest Don Felder. Willie Nelson & Alison Krauss announced a co-headline tour for this year. Motley Crue announced their farewell tour. The Eagles announced another “History Of” tour. The Who announced plans to do a farewell tour. Billy Joel announced his first tour dates since his cancelled tour with Elton John, a few years ago. Also, Billy announced that he will be a franchise of Madison Square Garden, and perform at least one show a month there every month. Cher announced her comeback tour. The Allman Brothers announced that this may be their final year of touring. So, why do I see a connection with all of this? Simple: All of these artists know that Garth will be the center of attention for the next couple of years, and they’re scared to death, and rightfully so. So, they all started building the biggest possible performances and packages they could think of, to help maintain ticket sales. Since Garth hasn’t announced his U.S. dates yet, many fans are saving their money until he does, but if they see that Willie & Alison are coming to town, or that Motley Crue’s coming to town for the last time, they might consider that to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and spend their money on that instead. After all, Garth DID say this would only be the beginning.

An interview with Garth Brooks for his Ireland Comeback Special, to happen this July: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ubWTBUX05Q

Styx, Foreigner, and Don Felder talking about their upcoming tour: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrO4KC_cu44

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The Grammy’s

A couple of weeks ago, it was that time of the year, my friends! Yes, it was time for the Grammy Awards! I didn’t even watch. I waited until it was over, then I went online and watched some highlights. First of all, let me address the one thing people kept bringing up to me, knowing my taste in music: Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Merle Haggard’s performance. The people complaining about it were obviously not familiar with these guys, to begin with, so I wasn’t really bothered. Kris Kristofferson has NEVER been known as a great singer. He’s a great songwriter! He sang on all of his records, a few movies, and the Highwaymen albums, but he’s definitely not a singer. Willie doesn’t play the song “Highwaymen” very often in his shows, if ever. I had been told that there were sound problems on the stage, which doesn’t surprise me. From what I saw of The Grammy’s, it seemed to me they were more concerned about the “show” aspect than the music. Some people said Blake Shelton saved that segment, and nothing could be farther from the truth. Willie and Kris don’t play “Okie From Muskogee.” Merle doesn’t play “Highwayman” and “Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.” So, how are they expected to be perfect with just one rehearsal opportunity? On another note, it was nice to see Taylor Swift leave empty-handed. Maybe the rest of the country is catching on that I’m right! Really, though, the only part of the Grammy’s I cared about was the part before they went on television. I don’t know if they still stream it online, or not, but it’s the awards that they don’t think are worthy of being on television, a.k.a. all the real talent. Guy Clark won his first Grammy for “My Favorite Picture of You”, which is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard! That whole segment, before they go on TV, is where you see the folk heroes, the blues legends, the country icons, the metal pioneers, all of which are better than what they showed on TV. I’m surprised Willie, Kris, and Merle weren’t forced to perform on the untelevised portion, as well. In short, The Grammys don’t know what they’re doing.

Willie, Kris, Merle, and the untalented Blake Shelton on The Grammy’s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SspAWnLvUFc

A track from Guy Clark’s “My Favorite Picture of You”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wjDbPvEFKM
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