"Well, the boys round here don't listen to The Beatles/ run Ol Bocephus through a juke box needle at the honky tonk/ where they boot stomp all night." - Boys Round Here - Rhett Akins-Dallas Davidson-Craig Wiseman.

Oklahoma superstar Blake Shelton is indebted to the women in his life - first there was his beautician mama Dorothy who entered him in school talent quests.

Then there was Mae Boren Axton - mother of late singing actor Hoyt - who lured him to Nashville at 17 and gave him work around her house while he sang for his supper.

Yes, he had his first brush with fame when he painted the home of Mae - writer of Elvis hit Heartbreak Hotel - and was given Hoyt's pocket knife collection.

Now, two decades down the Lost Highway, there's his Texan singing spouse Miranda Lambert and her Pistol Annies who help kick off his eighth album Based On A True Story with Boys Round Here.

The disc, propelled by his high profile as a humorous judge on The Voice, topped country charts and reached #3 on the all genre Billboard Top 200 on debut and has sold more than 200,000.

His first post Voice album Red River Blue also landed atop both the Billboard 200 all-genre and country albums chart after he released two EPs and 2 compilations.

Blake's female support extended to Gwen Sebastian whom he discovered in his mentoring on The Voice.

Gwen harmonizes on sensual new ballad My Eyes and is a perfect protégé for Shelton, 36, who wrote his first song at 15.

It's not clear if he and Gwen looked into each other's eyes on mainstream TV as he sang "my eyes are the only thing I don't want to take off you/ come a little closer, come a little closer."

That might have buckled the bucolic Bible belt witch burners who tried to picket George Jones funeral at the Grande Ole Opry House.

Shelton has maximized fanning his fame flame between albums by his Voice roles - mentoring two of the winners on his three series.

He also ignited verbal stoushes with Texan legends Ray Price, 87, and Shotgun Willie Nelson, 80, by comments on inter-generational changes in the genre, calling some peers old farts.

It was a volcanic twitter and frenzied Facebook storm, aided by the chattering classes' cyber chappies and chappettes, sucked in like on-line shoppers.

Shooter Jennings, who satirized faux outlaws with equal effect to one of his alleged targets Eric Church, milked the same mock shock treats in his own way without laying a glove on Shelton.

Blake smoked the peace pipe with Price by visiting him backstage at an Oklahoma concert - it's not clear what he smoked with Willie who capitalized on the furore by calling recent road trip "the jack-asses and old farts tour."

Shelton may been laughing all his way to the royalties bank when he cut a delicious duet with Pistol Annie - Ashley Monroe - on You Ain't Dolly And You Ain't Porter - her co-write with producer Vince Gill on her second solo album Like A Rose.

It's a shame Shelton's airplay starved unlucky radio country peers haven't had a decent headline grabbing storm since Wolverines singer Darcy LeYear invaded eighties TV show Simon Townsend's Wonder World.

Hillbillies Hate Change - co-written by this diarist and featuring TV starlet Edith Bliss - was a harpoon aimed at singers with a vintage nasal whine and publicized in the Sydney Daily Mirror TV column the day Darcy opened a show for tired target Reg Lindsay in Grafton.

Ageing rockers and tuneless twerps from the inner suburban latte belt and dormitory suburbs sneer at country acts using TV as a surrogate radio but they save their angst for interviews and rarely inhabit the scene of the rhyme.

As true music revolutionaries will attest the best agent for change is on the inside - and that's not the Allan Caswell song that helped him invade TV as The Prisoner theme.

But I digress.


"Yeah Hollywood Boulevard, looking down, seeing stars/ 90210, Rodeo is roday-o/ glad I hit it, glad I did it and I'd do it again/ yeah hanging with my friends, with them red Maseratis and them tuned up bodies/ and everybody's gonna be the next big somebody/ yeah the place is a trip." - Small Town Big Time - Craig Wiseman-Clint Lagerberg.

Shelton emulates Charlie Daniels, also borrowed by Paisley on his ninth album Wheelhouse, on his anthemic rural entrée song Boys Round Here when he finds men "backwoods legit - chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit."

He follows with his party primed title track and then, with practiced song sequencing, he drops in a nostalgia laced lament of an idyllic pubescent love tune Do You Remember.

Shelton used his between tours time in Hollyweird to source a song contrasting the lives of the cash burning plastic posers of the city of angels with the blue collar good old boys and gals back in the bush.

Small Town Big Time - penned by seasoned songsmith Craig Wiseman and Clint Lagerberg - may not be as clever as recent Brad Paisley tune Outstanding In Our Field but the anthemic delivery fits the dirt road, six pack, pick-up truck pastiches dominating charts.

It shares similar title and theme to wife Miranda's embryonic hit Famous In A Small Town - a vibrant vignette where the former undercover Dallas drug detective's daughter details day dreams of bucolic bliss.

Shelton divorced first wife Kaynette in 2006 after less than a three year marriage and is well versed in small town twists and turns.

Wiseman and fellow chart royalties' magnets Rodney Clawson and Chris Tompkins provide Country On The Radio that enables him to again smoke the peace pipe with historic heroes - replete with more "dirt roads, corn rows and homemade wine", small town babes and howling at the stars, not the moon.

And, to provide clever conduits - unlikely to frighten the fillies - the writers set it up this way.

"Every time you hear that slide guitar and your baby's on the tail gate/ and you're stealing those kisses to a little George Strait."

No chance of trying to rhyme "Ray Price with smoking ice" like some might - although Price did get busted as a septuagenarian for having a little herb superb crop on his Texas ranch.

Perhaps Ray was feeling guilty and doing a favour for Shotgun Willie after not cutting a Nelson song for a couple of decades after old Willie shot his prize breeding rooster by mistake many moons ago.

Shelton excels at extolling home town values "sayin' we ain't got nothin' on a big town/I bet they'd come around if they came on down."


"Well, it must have been a hundred in that summer sun/ and I've been in it all day/ puttin' up with that prick of an owner's son/ making me some hillbilly pay, workin' through lunch/ bustin' my hump, helpin' his daddy stay rich." - I Still Got A Finger - Craig Wiseman-Gary Hannan.

Shelton also injects a little Tex-Mex flavour in Doin' What She Likes when his character chances his arm and calls in sick to spend a day romancing his lover with 'fresh fajitas and margaritas' - while of course listening to country music on the radio.

The singer reverses roles when he draws on Wiseman for a third song I Still Got A Finger - a new millennia sequel to septuagenarian convict country singer-actor David Allan Coe's Take This Job And Shove It.

The Coe classic topped charts for the late Johnny Paycheck and landed seven times wed Coe and Lacy J Dalton roles as husband and wife in the 1981 movie of the same name.

This time Shelton expands the target of his wrath to a honky tonk heartbreaker who leaves her character home on the couch with his canine.

That's before he revels in the laid back fantasy fuelled not so-hidden pleasures of Mine Would Be You and the sensual swagger of Lay Low - penned by Strait's favourite writer Dean Dillon, Tim Nicholls and Dave Turnbull.

Let's not be deceived into thinking Shelton only has admiration for his maternal and marital mentors.

His finale tunes Ten Times Crazier and Granddaddy's Gun dance around paternal and grand paternal imagery.

Both are penned by Georgia Peach Pickers Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson and Ben Hayslip - who met in school at Valdosta - with help from Marv Green and Bobby Pinson.

In the former the father figure's penchant for playing country music is an entrée for his son's weekend of partying.

It's not clear if this was tailor written to tie in Blake with dad Richard - a used car salesman - or was a more generic Georgian sire.

And in the finale grandpa's precious pride and joy family heirloom, handed down when the grandson is 13, is purloined for nights shooting stop signs on Highway 49.

That translates to rural sharp shooters in the unlucky radio country but there's little likelihood here of the second shooter being named Billy Joe unless another septuagenarian named Shaver decides to return for a fourth tour and protracted childhood.


"I was gonna keep it real, like chill/ like only have a drink or two/ but it turned into a party when I started talking to you/ now you're standing in the neon/ looking like a high I wanna be on." - Sure Be Cool If You Did - Rodney Clawson-Chris Tomkins-Jimmy Robbins.

Shelton has already followed peers Hillbilly Bone sidekick Trace Adkins, Willie, Billy Ray Cyrus, Randy Travis, Travis Tritt and Rhodes Scholar Kris Kristofferson onto the big and small screen.

Blake appeared on an episode of fellow Okie Reba McEntire sitcom Malibu Country on March 1 - he played her brother on the episode.

Perhaps he is more telegenic than her real life singing sibling Pake McEntire - certainly more famous.

In 2007 he was a judge on the fifth season of Nashville Star and also appeared on Clash of the Choirs.

In April 2011 he hosted the Academy of Country Music Awards with Reba whose husband Narvel Blackstock is one of Shelton's managers - he boomeranged to host 2012 and 2013 Awards with Georgian Luke Bryan.

And, of course, he's fiercely protective of younger shooting stars maligned by critics.

When someone tried to call Taylor Swift more of a pop artist than a country singer, Shelton jumped to the defense of the genre: "We take ownership of Taylor Swift in country music."


"It's just a double barrel twelve/ the stock is cracked and it kicks like hell/ it wouldn't mean what it means to me to no one/ I can hear his voice when I put it to my shoulder/ a gun's like a woman, it's all how you hold her." - Granddaddy's Gun - Rhett Akins-Dallas Davidson-Bobby Pinson.

But what about the uncivil war with Octogenarians that warmed winter air south of the Mason Dixon line?

"Country music has to evolve in order to survive," Shelton said on GAC pay TV show Backstory.

"Nobody wants to listen to their grandpa's music, and I don't care how many of these old farts around Nashville are 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 that you were buying."

Shelton's Backstory aired in December but his words didn't gather much notice until months later when highlighted in a post on blog Saving Country Music headlined Blake Shelton Calls Classic Country Fans Old Farts' & Jackasses.

Several country music stars weighed in including Country Music Hall of Famer Price.

"It's a shame that I have spent 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," Price wrote on Facebook.

"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!"

Shelton responded in a series of tweets. "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 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 his journey as a mainstream country artist. Pushing the boundaries with his records. For The Good Times - perfect example with 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 offended. I meant every word I said. Country music is my life and its future and past is important to me. I'll put my love and respect and knowledge about it up against anybody out there anybody."

Shelton also shared support from friends on Twitter including Martina McBride who wrote, "Just catching up on this. We all know where your heart is Blake. Love you."
Love what you meant by your quote buddy," Chris Young wrote.

"Know how much you love country music history. Love your music brother and who you are."

Shelton added more insight.

"What an interesting day," he wrote.

"Turns out I have a lot of friends in this industry that refuse to jump on any band wagon and turn their back on me. And a handful that have no problem doing it - publicity can make people do and say anything I guess. Oh well. Good news for me is. I don't forget and won't forget."

That's why Shelton backed his words with action when he and Lambert visited Price and fellow singing actor Mel Tillis at an Oklahoma concert in late January.

Blake and Miranda surprised Ray at the Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant - just an hour from their Tishomingo ranches.

Ray posed for photos with Blake and Miranda prior to his show but had another surprise for Blake when he cajoled him onto the stage to take a bow.

Introducing him as his good friend Ray told the stunned crowd that Blake should once again be Male Vocalist of the Year.

Blake and Miranda reportedly stood in the wings watching all of Ray's set as well as that of Tillis who took the stage after Ray.

Before the show Blake and Miranda visited Ray and Mel on the veterans' buses.

There was love in air again not far from the woods near their ranch - locale of Shelton's engagement proposal to Lambert.

The couple met in 2005, began dating in 2006 and have ranches within a few miles of each other near Tishomingo in the county seat of Johnston County in southern Oklahoma.

Tishomingo was named after Chief Tishomingo of the Chickasaw Nation who lived on the Trail Of Tears after Chickasaws had been removed from their original homelands, located in and around Tishomingo, Mississippi.

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CLICK HERE for a previous Blake feature in the Diary on February 21, 2011.

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