Photo credit: Buck Stevens/B104 Concert Photo
Blake Shelton is once again being attacked for something he said that, in my opinion, is being taken the wrong way. Here are my two cents on the subject.
First of all I will stipulate that I am a fan of Blake Shelton’s and his music. I have been since his very first song, “Austin,” was released and hit number one on the country charts in 2001. I have followed him and his career ever since. I was a follower of his on Twitter when he only had 10,000 followers on the social media website.
Blake now has 12 number one songs, including the last seven in row released since 2009. He has platinum selling albums and sells out concerts across the Nation. Blake has crossed over to be a TV star on the hit NBC show “The Voice” and has surpassed 2.5 million followers on Twitter. He is by every definition a true star of country music. He is the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year as well as CMA and ACM Male Vocalist of the Year just to name a few awards he has received. . That, in my opinion, is part of the recent problem. When you are on top, people look for a reason to bring you down to say they were the one who did it.
Because I am a fan of Blake’s, several people have sent me messages asking me why I hadn’t chimed in on the current controversy surrounding him. Not that anybody really (other than those who massaged me) really cares what my opinion is, but here are my two cents anyway.
To being with, it all started when in an episode of GAC’s “BackStory” Blake made some comments about where country music is going as a genre. ABC Radio quotes Blake as saying: “Nobody wants to listen to your 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 have had the conversation myself, worded a bit differently, several times in my life. When I was young and started gravitating away from the artists my parents and grandparents played for me, they said: “You call THAT music?” If you are honest with yourself, at some point you heard those exact words yourself. Years later, and much to my chagrin, I heard myself saying those same words to my kids, nephews and nieces when I heard some of the music they were listening to. It is inevitable. Music, just like everything else changes and evolves over time.
I believe that is all Blake was saying in his own way. In the 70s singers like Jerry Reed, Waylon Jennings and Barbara Mandrell rose eyebrows of people who felt they were not country because they were nothing like Tennessee Ernie Ford, Johnny Horton, Patsy Cline or Hank Williams.
When acts like Alabama, George Strait and Hank Williams Jr. emerged in the 80s, they were nothing like Jerry, Waylon or Barbara so the phrase “You call that music?” was uttered about them.
In the 90’s it was artists named Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, Brooks & Dunn and Shania Twain who were crossing the lines of what that decades “traditional country” fans felt was acceptable.
In the early 2000s acts like Kenny Chesney, Keith urban, Carrie Underwood and Rascal Flatts began to take country music in a new direction that many were unsure of at first. Now, it is acts like Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and yes, Blake Shelton who are shaping where country music will be in ten more years.
Bottom line is that music changes. It is a fact. It always has and always will. No matter how much some may not want it to, it does anyway. That doesn’t mean that the artists that lead the way in the evolution do not appreciate those who paved the way before them. In fact, most are truly appreciative of the foundation that was created by those previous acts that allows them to do what feels right and sounds good to them and their fans; and I know Blake falls into that group of grateful artists.
In my opinion, those who are calling for the “tar and feathering” of Blake Shelton over his comments really don’t know much if anything about him. The take on those comments by somebody who has followed his career from the beginning and seen most (if not all) of the interviews he has done is that Blake was simply reiterating that age old argument of “You call that music?”
Maybe it wasn’t worded in the best way, as Blake himself admitted when he posted a clarification and apology on Twitter saying: “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 truly feel that this was just something being taken in a way that it was never intended to be taken. Country Weekly even points out that the statement in print doesn’t seem to come across the same way as it does in video form with Blake’s unique vocal inflections. They have posted a link for you to see the actual section of the GAC “Backstory” special where Blake makes the comments at CountryWeekly.com.
I guess what I am saying (in a very longwinded way) is, find out more about Blake Shelton and who he is before you condemn him. With the internet, there is plenty of information at your fingertips to do so. That is just my opinion on the whole thing. I could be wrong.
By: Buck Stevens