Thursday morning I watched as everyone on the chat planet had their crack at Taylor Swift and her meteoric rise to stardom, with the same old squabble. “Man, she’s cute and can write and stuff, but I hate that pop-country.” (And every variation of that sentence, until they got tired or had supper and forgot why they were steamed to begin with.) We’ve been hearing that since Faith, Shania and anybody else from Nashville with an hour-glass figure and a couple of those underpants/soft-focus videos started showing up on CMT and MTV, and their songs, with Top-40 remixes, started showing up on Hot AC stations.
Listen, I’m not in her demo. 19 and clumsy don’t do nothing for me. I just don’t have a dog in this fight. I got my daily requirement of grease and gravy when the right Reverend Billy Gibbons showed up on stage to help everyone put a fork in Brooks & Dunn. (Jesus, have I positioned myself far enough away from this girl?) But, I posted this on my FB page Thursday morning, because I had to get my $.02 worth in a battle that may never go away. I wonder if there would be all the debate about Taylor Swift's clean sweep at the CMA's Wednesday night if she was a 19 year old white boy.
She writes songs that touches kids her own age. Her aw shucks humility looks like it’s the real deal. When was the last time you saw someone…anyone…bring their road band on stage to bask in the glory. Everyone was hugging and giggling.
Taylor Swift is not the best singer in Nashville. She’s not the hottest looking. Actually, she’s not a lot of things, but she knows her audience; she’s the smart one in the room, and that’s attractive.
By contrast, look at Leann Rimes. At 15 she had the whole thing right there for her. “Blue” still gives me chicken skin. But, 5 days ago she’s working a stripper pole for her boyfriend after a night of tequilas and spit swapping in a Vegas nightclub.
She came walking out at the CMA’s Wednesday night and my girlfriend and I looked at one another and simultaneously said, “Are you freakin’ kidding me!” She looked like some nighttime party-skank who had boogied with Marianne before they blew her ass up on True Blood. It also seemed like no one wanted to hear what she had to say on stage until she started reading the nominees. Sometimes folks just fall off the Music Row radar. I’m just sayin’.
However, after Taylor started looking for a wheel barrow to haul out the night’s booty, Brad Paisley said that they may have to rethink having her open for them on the road. As you may have read, she did just that for every one of the Entertainer of The Year nominees. Don’t you think they asked her out for a reason. "She has taken the music world by storm," Paisley said. "She's the biggest artist in music right now, by far. It's hands down. She's entertainer of the year in country music, no doubt, and I'm really proud of her."
Plus, several female country music artists admitted to rooting for Swift, including Barbara Mandrell, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame at the awards show. Mandrell is one of six female acts to win entertainer of the year, and the only to win it twice.
On the other hand, Wynonna Judd, a presenter at the awards and country music veteran had to disagree with the Country Music Association’s choice to choose the young country singer. She said that it was too much, too soon. "Time is God’s way of keeping everything from happening at once. It’s just too much of a good thing too soon."
Hey we don’t say that about the kid who goes to Harvard at 14 do we? Audy Murphy joined the army at 16 and before his 20th birthday had won 33 medals including the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross and 3 Purple Hearts. I have no answer for Gary Coleman though.
As a radio guy, here’s what Taylor does for me…she brings kids to the format. For the last few years, some guys who are a lot smarter than me have bemoaned the fact that with radio irrigating, nurturing, and caring for the 25-54 demo for so long, they may have done so at the expense of a generation of listeners. The tweens withered on the vine while we tried to harvest every last dollar from the Boomers. Well, if you’re playing “15,” you’ve got 15 year-olds dialing you up. And here’s something for another article at another time, all those kids, and we don’t have anyone in the studio to talk with them.
Listen, I don’t know what the right amount of dues-paying happens to be for 19 year-olds, but I know when I see a role model that’s come of age. She has the ear of our daughters, and right now, based on what I’ve seen, I trust her with that. I think this young woman will be speaking to our listeners for a long time to come, and really, what’s so wrong with that.