Friday, November 22, 2019

"Women of Country" ~ 2019 CMA Awards

I'd read that the Country Music Association had summarily dismissed Brad Paisley from his regular hosting gig in order to "highlight women". While the sentiment may have been laudable, when one thinks about it, it is rather an insult to female country singers. In what alternate universe were women artists not recognized? I've listened to country since sometime around 1967, which is more than fifty years, and I distinctly remember female singers getting tons of exposure, from Patsy to Loretta to Tammy to Lynn to Connie to Dolly; Tanya in the seventies; Reba McEntire, Pam Tillis, Rosanne Cash and Paulette Carlson in the eighties; Mary Chapin Carpenter, Holly Dunn, Shania Twain, The Judds. The Dixie Chicks in the nineties. But somehow women got short shrift?

Regardless, if 2019 wanted to "right wrongs", there are several issues with this performance:



Number one, if you're "celebrating women", you might not want to have your three stars perform a song written by a man. "Those Memories Of You" was written by Alan O'Bryant and originally recorded by Bill Monroe. You know, women have written songs, too ~ take, for instance, Dolly Parton.

My second impression of this opening is that Carrie really needed to let her seamstress finish adding a skirt to that glittery gold blouson.

The harmonies weren't quite pitch-perfect, but since it was a live performance, a little slack should be granted.

Number three:  Is that Angelina Jolie in the audience, and if so, why?

Four:  Dolly Parton is the ultimate performer. She carried this.

Loretta Lynn is an icon. The gals (whoever they were) who sang "You're Lookin' At Country" are not good singers. Don't they make 'em anymore? I guess, nice hair, though. It seemed that Loretta was in the audience as a prop. One of her twins, Patsy or Peggy, had to whisper in her ear and tell her what was happening. That's sort of disrespectful. New gals, you need to thank your lucky stars Loretta Lynn plowed a path for you.

Some indiscriminate bad singers tackled Tammy's "Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad" next ~ poorly. The camera honed in on Natalie Maines in the audience, who could blow all these gals out of the water, even the obviously gay one. I'm not on board with The Dixie Chicks' politics, but talent doesn't belong in the peanut gallery.

Reese Witherspoon? Is this the CMA's or a Hallmark Channel marathon?

Thank goodness for Tanya Tucker. She's younger than me, and showing her age as all of us do, but she can still belt it out. Tanya is an actual star.

Is that goofy Billy Ray Cyrus the camera panned to? If I recall correctly, he hasn't been relevant since 1982, and the mullet, bad as it was, was preferable to...this. And did Billy Ray sire any offspring who aren't crazy?

Pam Tillis is also in the audience, as opposed to on-stage. WTF? Ran out of time?

Gretchen Wilson represented the nineties. Kudos. Not a big splash in the pantheon of country history, but each decade deserves representation.

I'll admit, my curiosity regarding Crystal Gayle was whether she'd kept her freakishly long hair. It seems she has.

Terri Clark, who is an actual bad-ass hat-wearing guitar strummer, is next, and aside from the producers making her sing her song in the wrong key, she is a reminder that some country girls at one time had balls.

Next, Sara Evans does "Born To Fly", irritatingly interspersed with some girl in the audience over-emoting for camera time.

Martina McBride appears onstage to sing a bit of "Independence Day". It is, admittedly, nice to see a few artists who actually impacted country.

Yep, there's Trisha Yearwood in the audience, kept under wraps lest she put the prancers on stage to shame. Kathy Mattea, too. Dang, I guess neither of them fit the predetermined song key.

If Patsy were alive today, she'd sit these ladies down and explain to them the facts of life. "Do you want pity or do you want to sing?" she'd ask. Loretta might talk to them about baking bread with one baby on her hip and three more chasing each other around the kitchen table; and then climbing into a '59 Ford with a guitar bigger than she was and driving fifteen miles on rutted roads to belt out two songs in a smoky dive bar. "What, now, are you squawkin' 'bout?" she might ask.

Dolly should know better. Reba should know better. Spare me the self-indulgence. Either you can compete with men for radio play or you can go sob in a corner. Better still, you can stand up on your own two feet and get judged on your merits.

No time in country music were female artists overlooked. It's a 2019 fiction.

It's admittedly nice to see remnants of the past. That's not a gender thing. For all its imperfections, I enjoyed this video. I personally would have nixed the nondescript artists and focused solely on the stars, but...ratings.

Thanks, CMA's. Next, let's do Clint and Travis and Randy and Alan and George.












 

















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