Sunday, 18 March 2012

Does Country Music make your heart sing or make you cringe?

BBC Radio 5 Live asks the question:
Does Country Music make your heart sing or make you cringe?  

Tony Livesey BBC Radio 5 Live

Lively late-night chat on stories you're talking about
Late-night chat on stories you're talking about.
Tony Livesey taps into the views and experiences from listeners across the UK, and wants to hear your thoughts on the day's news.

Tony Livesey - Very exciting, American Country Star, Taylor Swift has beaten Adele and Lady Gaga to be named the highest-earning pop artist of 2011 by trade publication Billboard. U2 came second and third was another country music star Kenny Chesney artist. But country music always seems to provoke a Marmite reaction – You either love it, or you hate it

Music snippets played :
Taylor Swift “You Belong With Me”,
Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man” ,
“Jolene” by Dolly Parton,
Johnny Cash “Folsom Prison Blues”,
Kenny Chesney with “She Thinks My Tractors Sexy” and Billy Cyrus Achy Breaky Heart” which in 1992 was #1 in America, peaked at number 3 on the UK Singles Chart, and  made him famous.
As well as garnering triple Platinum status in Australia the video of this hit, is said to be largely responsible for catapulted line dance into the mainstream becoming a worldwide craze

Tony Livesey – Ah, interesting seeing and hearing the reactions of my next guest to those songs. Brian Ahern is with me in the studio, journalist and avid country music fan, hello Brian.

Brian Ahern – Nice to see you mate

Tony Livesey – Brian, you were nodding enthusiastically along with Johnny Cash but then you looked to grimace a bit with Kenny Chesney, You Think Me Tractor’s sexy?

Brian Ahern – Well that’s OK I’ve seen Kenny Chesney do that live. Many a time I’ve got to The States because I’m a fan and because I’ve worked for National publications and we’ve done tours over there.

Tony Livesey – Is ‘She thinks My Tractors’ a parody or is that a serious country and western song?

Brian Ahern – No in many ways, you keep saying country and western Tony, I must bring you to task there

Tony Livesey – What should I say?

Brian Ahern – Its called country music

Tony Livesey – Oh, What happened to the western?

Brian Ahern – The western bit died out with the old movies

Tony Livesey – Did It

Brian Ahern – People make this mistake they keep saying cowboys this and cowboys hat.
NO a cowboy hat and Cowboy boots are part of the dress where it’s most accepted

Tony Livesey – Yes

Brian Ahern – So naturally people assume things. Like do you remember the old folk days when you used to say about the scarves and the glasses and the things like long hair? 

Tony Livesey – And the beards

Brian Ahern – Yeah, It wasn’t really because there were all folk fans of different styles, you know what I mean

Tony Livesey – Yeah, OK, I’m with you on that, alright. James Walshe is here as well he is the programme Director of Kerrang! Radio and James al we could hear from you while that music was playing was deep sighing.

James Walshe – Did you ask to play it? I’ve just been vomiting into a bucket

Tony Livesey – (laughs), what’s wrong with it?

James Walshe – It’s the most hideous sound ever created by man. Taken in isolation it’s bad enough. It’s a bit like those massive American cars, its fine on a highway in Nevada but it’s just out of place in Leighton Buzzard. I just think It’s horrible a horrible, horrible noise. I think there is a bit of a mix up as well when it comes to country and western.

Tony Livesey – Country music

James Walshe – Country music, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers that lot. They wrote songs that influenced a generation that fought against the establishment. But the latest wave or the recent wave in the last 20 years of country music is like for drunken people who think they can dance.

Tony Livesey – Erm Brian, what do you say to James?

Brian Ahern – What I say to James is that you’re entitled to your opinion Sir. I think there is many a person who wouldn’t agree with yer. So OK, you’ve got an opinion. Your music or your Kerrang”! music or whatever you call it is a different type of music that I listen to. But what you’ve listened to now is across the field thing and most of what you’ve just listened to is 30-40 year old.

Tony Livesey – Yeah, he’s saying it’s not moved on. Do you accept his point that in its heyday Johnny Cash was a trend setter wasn’t he?

Brian Ahern – Without a doubt. Johnny Cash was a country music icon.

Tony Livesey – But who does that today, Brian, in the field of country music, whose doing that today?

Brian Ahern – Well you’ve got Garth Brooks. He’s actually come out of the business because of his divorce. The story is he didn’t want to pay his wife 50% of his earnings. I think most of us have relations or been down that road ourselves and now he’s working venues like Wynn, Vegas. You’ve got Toby Keith who has a chain of restaurants. Successfully, promoting country music throughout America.

Tony Livesey – Yeah, I guess that is what James is saying. That’s its natural setting. If your line dancing in Tottenham its not quite the same is it? When I lived in Fulham there was a country and western club there they had a bit of line dancing every week, that was in the 80’s though.

Brian Ahern – The Fulham country music club. I used to go there, I knew the guy who ran it

Tony Livesey –  Right near the Tube    

Brian Ahern – It’s a matter of taste. What you’ve got to realise is that country music is a very broad genre. It embraces jazz, folk, swing, popular music in general. What they do when they send country music to Britain is de-countrify it. They de-twang it in other words. They take out the steel guitar and fiddle, which are the basis of the music.

Tony Livesey – er James your knocking country music but you’re probably used to defending your own brand of music aren’t you?

James Walshe – Yeah that’s true, people have a go at rock music. They say rock music is all people wearing black and having long hair and tattoos and all that stuff, so I guess it’s a similar kind of thing in a way. I just don’t hear the variety that Brian is talking about as far as the variety of genres is concerned. To me it sounds just like one thing and you did mention just there, well I dunno, I become tense and feel myself wanting to explode when I think of those 2 words, LINE DANCING. It’s one of the worst things to blight the history of mankind and that’s country music that caused it. So there’s no way on earth I could ever warm to country music. 
Fremont St, Las Vegas

Tony Livesey – James, you’ve never seen line dancing done in anger then I don’t think? I was in Fremont Street in Vegas last summer. Have you been there Brian?

Brian Ahern – yes

Tony Livesey – There must have been a hundred people, two hundred people all doing the same dance and it was hypnotic it was fascinating.

James Walshe – (laughs) its not real dancing though, it’s like watching the Third Reich marching in cowboy hats

Brian Ahern – (laughs) that’s a nice one James, I like that can I use that.

Tony Livesey – He’s going to use that in his material. Brian, you must be used to that people having a go. Do you just get a tin hat and say I’m just going to enjoy my music and to hell with the rest of you?

Brian Ahern – To be quite honest with line dancing music I’m not the biggest fan of line dancing. The music of line dancing, yes, I like. But the actual dance itself I think it very stoic (?) and very uninteresting as James says. I’ll agree with the guy he is quite right on that. The think that annoys me, the dancers tend to dance, one dance, to one song, which to me is totally and completely wrong.

James Walshe – Where do you stand on Achy Breaky Heart?

Brian Ahern – It was unfortunate that the guy who had the hit with it [Billy Cyrus] had that as a first hit. It was unfortunate as the guy can really sing. Achy Breaky Heart is a parody sort of thing, umm, mixing the music up in general. I don’t mind it as it’s like ‘Crystal Chandeliers’ when I was younger. That used be the “no no” song.

Tony Livesey – If I’m going to play one song a 1 o’clock at the end of this programme Brian. What should I play to give anyone a real taste of country music at its peak?  

Brian Ahern – I would think anything by the likes of Toby Keith

Tony Livesey – Yeah, (pauses), Oh, I was hoping you were going to say Johnny Cash there. I was really hoping to play ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ at the end of the programme.

Brian Ahern – ‘Folsom Prison Blues’  is a great song but you’ve got to bear in mind it’s not in any stretch of the imagination a modern song.

Tony Livesey – No
Brian Ahern – I think you have to go back to the 50’s for that when he first recorded it.

Tony Livesey – OK what are people saying on the text?

Kate - You were asking people what their favourite tracks were?

Dave in Leeds said the best country music track is ‘Independence Day’ by Martina McBride or ‘Wide Open Spaces’ by The Dixie Chicks.
Kim in Clacton of course the greatest country music tune must be ‘Orange Blossom Special’, Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys.
Rob in Cheadle, top 3 country tracks: Hank Williams ‘ Lost Highway’, Willie Nelson ‘Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain’ and Emmylou Harris ‘Boulder To Birmingham’
But Murdoch in Reading says NO!!!!!!!!!!!, turn it OFF it HURTS my ears.... sings while I says things better than that Country & Western rubbish.

Tony Livesey –  It will always be us Brian, it will always have its detractors. Are there a lot of young people going into country music now or is it an old person’s game?

Brian Ahern – The think is, it’s known as an old person’s music. But I would say pound for pound the kids are getting into it. Not the country music as we know it with the twang. They are getting into different sorts of it. A lot of the singer-songwriter stuff can be related to country music. 

Tony Livesey – OK, good to hear from you Brian, thank you very much. James are you going to have one ear open at 1 o’clock for my choice?

James Walshe – Well I’ve got a couple of requests if you like.

Tony Livesey –  Go on
I’ve been stood here doing some research at the moment. How about this one: ‘If My Nose Was Full On Nickels I’d Blow It All On You’. How about that one or ‘I Changed Her Oil, She Changed My Life’ or ‘I Feel In A Pile Of You And Got Love All Over Me’

Listen to Audio

About Tony Livesey - 48-year old Anthony Livesey is a British journalist and broadcaster who currently presents a late night show on BBC Five Live. The show runs from 22.30 to 1:00 from Monday to Thursday.
He began his career with the Nelson Leader and then worked in the Middle East at the Gulf News in Dubai. Returning to his native Lancashire, he worked at the Lancashire Evening Telegraph before spending 18 years with Sport Newspapers where he was editor-in-chief and managing director of the Daily Sport and Sunday Sport newspapers. After resigning in August 2006 from the Sport newspapers, he joined the BBC, presenting the breakfast show on BBC Radio Lancashire, until he joined BBC Radio 5 Live in January 2010.
Livesey presents the late night discussion show from MediaCityUK, Salford Quays
Tony Livesey’s BBC Radio 5 Live page -

About Brian Ahern – Country music Journalist (Country Routes Magazine) Known as “The Godfather” which is a bit of fun his peers named him in respect of his long term involvement within country music at most levels and a willingness to impart his knowledge to others. Pre PC days Brian was the “Google”.

James Walshe - First started working in radio for nothing as a teenager making lots of tea for people and has since worked his way to being the Programme Director of Kerrang Radio 
James has flirted with television, travelled the length of the UK whilst working for 2 radio stations, has worked for a number of different radio stations doing a number of different roles and has picked up masses of experience. Walshe added: “With listeners increasingly turning to technology and the Internet for music, we need to give them reasons to listen to the radio beyond music. We think the future is in the hands of knowledgeable and charismatic presenters who’re trusted to talk about whatever is relevant to the audience – be it about music or lifestyle” – and in this case, through radio, TV and the world’s biggest selling weekly rock magazine. 
Kerrang! Magazine
Nov 2009 Cover

Kerrang! Radio is a specialist rock music radio station broadcasting to the West Midlands, England. The station's format mixes modern & classic rock with speech programmes targeted at young people and an adult rock audience. Broadcasting on FM in the West Midlands and DAB & Freeview and online, boasting a large audience of 1.3 million listeners. It is connected with the Kerrang! print magazine in name, ownership and style, although the radio station has a more mainstream adult rock output than the magazine, featuring more indie and alternative rock. 1

Kerrang magazine “is the world's biggest selling weekly rock magazine, and delivers the hottest news, reviews, gig guides, exclusive features, posters, videos and more”
Take a look inside: LINK
SOURCES - BBC Radio 5 Live (Broadcast Monday March 12, 2012 - Showpage)

Programme transcript:

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