In a recent interview with Lawrence Journal-World, country star Clint Black shared some poignant thoughts on the state of country music. Black scored 22 No. 1 singles from nine albums throughout the 1990s, so he knows what he’s talking about.
The LJW asked Black about the lack of authentic storytelling in modern country. In particular, the prevalence of buzz words and “manufactured sound.” Black said the claim has validity.
“Change is constant, and we’re all guilty of clinging to the past, but country music has always grown its audience by collecting new fans and keeping the existing fans,” Black said. “I feel the targeting of the youth has driven a lot of longtime fans away.”
Black points to a serious issue. Country gravitates towards the pop world almost every decade, but the songwriting still captured very real sentiments. As young fans grow up (and spend more money), they’ll likely want something a bit deeper in their country music. But they may not find it.
Popular country could be at risk of losing a big chunk of its paying audience to capture a younger, more fickle demographic. The “bro country” phenomenon also put a huge dent in country’s credibility with people who may not normally seek out country music.
Black also shared an interesting nugget about his own personal path. Apparently, he had several options from major labels to release his newest album, On Purpose. They all wanted to hook him up with their own writers and producers.
But Black didn’t earn success by letting people tell him what to do. “I made it on my originality and I felt I had earned my place as a songwriter,” Black said.
Good for you, Clint. Stick to your guns. And it helps that his mentor and friend Merle Haggard wrote most of his biggest hits. “That made me want to be a songwriter and steeled my resolve when label execs tried to remove me as songwriter even after the success of my self-penned Killin’ Time album,” Black said.
As for current country artists Black loves? Well, Kacey Musgraves is doing it right. Black says her style, performance and material impresses him.