Maybe it is too much to ask. Maybe it is a wrong thing to ask for in the first place. Most of the great ideas are there way before the mainstream recognizes them. Perhaps they are dismissed or even points of derision in the early stages. A motorized carriage…who would ever use such a thing. A TV channel that shows 24/7 sports. No way that would work. And so forth…
Some folks are out there doing it with music too. You see it every so often. And usually people hate it. Or ignore it. Until they love it.
Recently, I finished Randy Travis’ autobiography. He was rejected by every single place in Nashville, some two or three times. He was told he was “too country.” Yet he persisted. And he turned that into becoming one of the greatest country music acts the world has ever known. His biggest hit, “On The Other Hand” was released as a single…and bombed. Yet upon its re-release, it soared to number 1.
But somewhere a loyal group of folks likely trudged to the Nashville Palace to hear the singing short order cook known then as Randy Traywick come out and sing his old style country songs. Those handful of people knew it before anyone else. And to some degree they deserve at least some credit for the eventual success of the artist himself. Because without that grassroots support, who knows how the rest of history would be.
Today we do the same with artists like Sturgill Simpson or Chris Stapleton or most recently Tyler Childers.
I remember years and years ago a friend gave me a CD of an alt-bluegrass band with a distinctly different lead singer. It was The Steel Drivers. The lead was Christ Stapleton. I loved those songs. “Heaven Sent” and “Drinking Dark Whiskey” and so many more.
Then a long time later somebody let me in on this ‘new’ country artist who had apparently redone “Tennessee Whiskey”. It was Stapleton…
I know it is wrong of me, but this stuff irks me something fierce. Not that Stapleton became a star or that more folks cane to know him. But that they thought they had found him and were giving him to me when I had known him all along.
My KY Sports Guy co-host TheStocktony has written extensively about Tyler Childers and has been trumpeting his sound for a while now.
But yesterday after a local festival my TL was filled with folks discovering…Tyler Childers.
It is a good thing I guess. The point of a musician is to build a fan base and Childers is doing so daily. But it still feels a bit disconcerting when I think of the handful of folks who were on his bandwagon all along. The 15-20 or so brave souls that started following him in some dim lit bar where half the folks weren’t paying one darn bit of attention to the red haired no name singing on the barren stage, just him and his guitar.
Those folks deserve something. Maybe praise, maybe recognition. And also maybe a little bit of space to come to grips with the fact that the guy they sat just a few feet from and sang all the words to his songs while some stared at both them and the singer…that guy is now a star. And the space will now become crowded with folks who love the sound of “Peace of Mind” but have no earthly idea what the song is really about or what it sounded like originally.
Oh well, what once was a peaceful country lot is now a local Wal-Mart. And so it goes…maybe the guy who found the land first is richer for the inhabitance of it. Maybe…