DIARY - 13 MAY 2013 - BLAKE SHELTON CD REVIEW
AND THE GALS IN THE POSSE
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.
superstar Blake Shelton is indebted to the women in his life - first
there was his beautician mama Dorothy who entered him in school talent
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.
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
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.
TOWN BIG TIME
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.
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,
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."
THIS JOB AND SHOVE IT - AGAIN
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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."
AND MEL - BLAKE AND MIRANDA AT CHOCTAW
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.
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
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.
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
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
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'
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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