Oh me. The country music blogs and columns are on fire after an interview Blake Shelton gave telling “the old farts they buy don’t music anymore, the kids do.” He also had a George W. Bush cockiness saying he’s now one of the deciders about how country music evolves.
Referencing his first CMA for “Male Vocalist of the Year” award in 2010, Shelton said:
“If I am “Male Vocalist of the Year” that must mean that I’m one of those people now that gets to decide if it moves forward and if it moves on. Country music has to evolve in order to survive. Nobody wants to listen to their grandpa’s music. And I don’t care how many of these old farts around Nashville going, “My God, that ain’t country!” Well that’s because you don’t buy records anymore, jackass. The kids do, and they don’t want to buy the music you were buying.”
I listened to the interview which you can view here if you have 15 extra minutes. You can listen to his comments that come in around the 13-minute mark and decide for yourself.
Country music isn’t my specialty, but PR is. There’s a bit of crisis management that needs to take place in order that Shelton regains all the fans who’ve supported his career.
Let’s step back and take a look at what he really said.
You have to listen to the video to put his intent into context. Though I’ve thought many times Shelton is somewhat of a jackass himself, he was being sincere, and talking about himself more than anything.
Further, Shelton blew the lid right off the music industry’s strong held belief that only kids buy music. Every blogger out there is finally saying what is true and what I’ve been saying for years. Music is not just for kids, they want the consumable free stuff. And I don’t believe Shelton’s handlers are going to allow him to give his music away for free. It’s the purists and traditionalists who love great music and buy more of it than any other demographic in our population base.
My take on what Shelton was saying is he is not ready to become a metaphor for traditional country music. He’s going to be 37 this year, not quite ready to give up exploring artistic expression. This faux pas may force Shelton into a corner he pointedly says he isn’t ready for.
He would be smart to apologize to fans right this second. At the very least he could expand on what he meant to communicate. That hasn’t happened yet, even though this video came out a month ago. He has angered a great many who support him in the media as well well as fans, country artists like Ray Price who made a statement today, and those up and coming artists following in Shelton’s footsteps. His record label doesn’t have the best reputation in the industry, and they haven’t issued any statements that I’m aware of.
It’s this smug attitude that gives the labels and A List stars a bad rap. A visit to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno is what needs to happen. That’s where all the fallen heroes go to confess their sins and Jay supports their version of the truth with a bit more empathy than other talk show hosts.
Overall, there are much more important things in this world and many more stories that need to be unraveled than Shelton’s boyish attempt at saying, ‘I’m not ready for a rocking chair or the Country Music Hall of Fame quite yet.’
Blake Shelton has apologized to Ray Price on Twitter, but nowhere else in the media at this time. Ray Stevens also threw his two cents into the tongue-in-cheek pot with a reply.
When various websites began posting that portion of Blake’s interview, some country fans and artists were offended by Blake’s comments. Country legendRay Price posted this statement on his Facebook page:
“It’s a shame that I have spend [sic] 63 years in this business trying to introduce music to a larger audience and to make it easier for the younger artists who are coming behind me. Every now and then some young artist will record a rock and roll type song, have a hit first time out with kids only. This is why you see stars come with a few hits only and then just fade away believing they are God’s answer to the world. This guy sounds like in his own mind that his head is so large no hat ever made will fit him. Stupidity Reigns Supreme!!!!!!! Ray Price (CHIEF “OLD FART” & JACKASS”) ” P.S. YOU SHOULD BE SO LUCKY AS US OLD-TIMERS. CHECK BACK IN 63 YEARS (THE YEAR 2075) AND LET US KNOW HOW YOUR NAME AND YOUR MUSIC WILL BE REMEMBERED.”
Soon after, Ray Stevens’ representative released this statement from the country comedian:
“I just heard Blake Shelton’s remarks about ‘old farts and jackasses’ and all I want to know is how he found out the title to my next single because it’s been a closely guarded secret here at the ‘Home.’ It will be available on vinyl or 8-Track at your nearest Tower Records store.”
It wasn’t long before Blake responded via Twitter, saying:
“Whoa!!! I heard I offended one of my all time favorite artists Ray Price by my statement “Nobody wants to listen to their grandpas music.” And probably some other things from that same interview on GAC Backstory. I hate that I upset him. The truth is my statement was and STILL is about how we as the new generation of country artists have to keep re-inventing country music to keep it popular. Just EXACTLY the way Mr. Price did along hid [sic] journey as a main stream country artist. Pushing the boundaries with his records. “For The Goodtimes” is a perfect example with the introduction of a bigger orchestrated sound in country music. It was new and awesome!!! I absolutely have no doubt I could have worded it better(as always ha!) and I apologize to Mr. Price and any other heroes of mine that it may offended. I meant every word I said. Country music is my life and it’s [sic] future AND past is important to me. I’ll put my [love] and respect and knowledge about it up against anybody out there. ANYBODY.
UPDATE Saturday, Jan. 26
From Facebook via Ray Price:
HELLO FOLKS, SINCE I MADE THE COMMENT ABOUT BLAKE SHELTON, FACEBOOK HAS BLOCKED ME FOR 30 DAYS FROM ACCEPTING FRIENDS REQUESTS. THEY SAID I WAS SENDING OUT SPAM AND UNWELCOME FRIENDS REQUESTS. We see your Friends Request to join my Facebook Page. As soon as the BLOCK is removed we will accept your request. You are still Welcome To Stop By My Page Anytime And Leave Your Comments. RAY PRICE