Hi, I'm Ayo with KEGL....and this is my first editorial opinion piece. Stay with me, here.
I've written lots of articles about music, for a few different publications, dating all the way to my college days.
Some in Atlanta, and some in DFW.
But this is my first "opinion" piece.
It's about blurring the trend lines as a music fan...not as a pre-meditated act, but as an already-happening occurence in our culture.
This is not something I'm asking you to do, it's something I'm telling you all has already started happening....to virtually all of us.
Some of us without realizing it.
I think this statement-of-opinion is pretty safe to say at this point in history:
We all like -all kinds of music-, you guys...and our tastes vary widely, and more all the time, as beautifully unique individuals who are inspired by music, any kind of music, that "rocks" us. And when it comes to being "rocked", sometimes (SOMEtimes, I say) the quietest (or most unlikely) inspirations can be the most joyfully deafening. Loudness (something us "rockers" love) comes in many forms, though. We as rockers are learning that more all the time.
In a nutshell, I'm no longer willing to remain silent on how much a fan of core rock artists like Shinedown and The Toadies would likely also really dig certain cuts by Johnny Cash or The Zac Brown Band (both of which we also proudly play on KEGL!), or even moreso, two impossible-to-deny rock influenced artists like Chris Stapleton and Brandi Carlile.
Thanks, in advance, for hearing me out on the subject of how garden-variety music genre lines, like "rock" or "country", are becoming more outdated and blurred every day. There was a time when these lines were hard boundaries in the sand when it came to what fans want to hear what on what station, stream or whatever common source.
One of the most exciting things to happen to mainstream music culture, in my humble opinion, is to see the masses inadvertently and organically blurring those lines...more every day.
After all, "variety is the spice of life". Indeed.
So what business would fan of "rock", "classic rock", "alt rock", "indie" or even "metal" have digging through tracks by Chris Stapleton? Or Brandi Carlile?
Simple. Variety's spice is the core ingredient in expanding our own, sigh, "likes". Insert gargantuan eyeroll here.
Anyway, bear with me.
Here we go.
Reason 10: We are all evolving.personalizing and customizing our music tastes. We have been given access to a wider variety of music sounds than ever before...to the point where many of us, fearing not being accepted. Ever hear someone admit that they're a "closet fan" of a band? Maybe a hipster indie fan from Denton who secretly loves the first two Motley Crue albums? Or, more reasonably, a die-hard Lynyrd Skynyrd fan who finds Emmylou Harris an amazing artist. It's time to accept that these old-model music genre boundary lines are all being blurred, naturally, due to the incredible way we can consume a much wider variety in the digital age.
Reason 9: Brandi Carlile just flattened Dallas on Friday night...at full-volume...with a sold out show at Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum......before a wonderfully varietal crowd of music-loving human beings. There were guys, gals, boot-stompers and dirty sneaker-wearers. Tall, short, old, young, red, blue, Christians, atheists, black, and white people. And riddle me this....if the business side of society pigeonholes Carliles' music as "indie/country", then why did she choose to cover "classic rock", TWICE, in concert? Why not K.D. Lang instead of an awesome Elton John cover? Why not cover The Old 97's instead of Joni Mitchell? Because she, like Stapleton, would never dream of letting their art expression be confined by a bubble. Here's more on her show from the Dallas Observer.
Reason 8: Chris Stapleton's "Tennessee Whiskey" deserves a listen by anyone who loves "Simple Man", "Turn The Page" or even "The Sound of Silence"......all, by the way, covered by "hard rock" artists. Enough of my blabber...for a minute, even. Just..listen to this song. Please? And while you're at it, if that one didn't "rock" enough for you (many would deem that one "blues"), jam this at full volume: Stapleton's "Midnight Train to Memphis" sounds like he's plugged into full Marshall stack, and it's a song that can stand up to any rockers thrown out by bands like Shinedown or Blackberry Smoke.
Reason 7: Open your music-fan mind, and don't just think outside the box....destroy the box. Do it for the same reason Dimebag Darrell loved Merle Haggard. For the same reason Johnny Cash covered Soundgarden. The same reason Five Finger Death Punch just covered Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
Reason 6: We all need to focus on listening to music that feels a little outside of our comfort zone. Just do it. For a few damn minutes. The downside to the doors that digital consumption have swung wide for us to be able take in greater draughts of music and other information, is that our attention spans have shortened....we only give music a few seconds these days. Let's stop doing that. Lets at least give a it a few minutes. Is that so much to ask? When you push yourself out of your comfort zone, you grow. Always. Listen to something you dont think you'd completely like. Just a few minutes to try something out. You might seriously surprise yourself. On more than one occasion. If you dont like it, noones threatening to shoot you for spitting it back out...and you cant say you werent trying to expand those horizons a little. And expanding our minds is essential as human beings. Growth is crucial. Have fun with it and try something new....something even just a few inches outside of your comfort zone.
Reason 5: If you follow Reason 6 to try Reason 8, you can also listen to Brandi Carlile's "The Story". It might blow your mind. Seriously.....listen to this song and tell me it's not "rock and roll". I dare you. It's full of pain, loud guitars, sincerity and vulnerability. Get some!
Reason 4: Outside of our own rock-centered music bubble, other "weird hybrids" are blooming...and they're taking off: Little Nas teaming with Billy Ray Cyrus is one I heard that one the other day. How crazy is that, but WOW....how cooool and creative to just allow that unorthodox cross-pollenization to take place. It's nothing that new, really. Nelly and Tim McGraw pulled it off with a beautiful ballad and hell, that was years ago! You don't have to like it or prefer it of you don't want to. The point is is that the whole snowglobe is being shaken up..all by itself through human evolution.
Reason 3: It's the reason Chris Stapleton looks so uncomfortable at all those country awards shows. Chris doesn't feel like he completely belongs to that throng. His music doesn't come from any one kind of music style: it just comes from a place of love and honesty about his life observances. That's how you know you've found a truly special music artist....they only write in one style: candid & vulnerable style. Yeah. Again, traditional music culture boundaries are being broken down....organically, through human evolution. My bet is the only place Stapleton feels like he completely belongs is at home, with "the kids and the dogs and you and me".
Reason 2: It's the reason Brandi Carlile was also treated as a "who's that again?" kind of artist at the American Country Music Awards, and maybe even at The Grammys.....where she cleaned up this year. A big part of that reason was a newer piece by her that also has plenty of rock and roll in it's ingredients: it's called "The Joke".
Reason 1: As uncomfortable as changing music times may be, change is a good thing. It's growth. And it's never comfortable. There's so much else in the world for a "rock" fan to see....and hear. Things that you might not expect apply to you, but do...if you give them a chance. Stapleton and Carlile are just examples. How about hitting me back with some others that you might have dug up? Maybe even by accident? I'll listen. firstname.lastname@example.org . Go for it.
Listen for the loudness in the most unlikely of places. You might just get "rocked" when you least expect it.
Opinionating done. I appreciate you reading my long-winded diatribe. Cheer's y'all. "Rock" on.