What Has Happened to Our Country?

29 Oct

Belushi_fromMPTVimagesIt’s no country music for old men… or anybody really excepting Bud Light-swilling sexists and ambition-challenged basement boys. Welcome to “Bro Country” where trite is right and all is banal!

“Here in Nashville the songwriters keep making Twinkies because lots of people like Twinkies,” Jason LeVasseur, an award-winning performer who has opened for John Mayer, Train, Dave Matthews Band, Ludacris, Maroon 5 and other chart-topping acts, told BLeeve Blog. “Unfortunately, there is no nutritional value in a Twinkie. But they sure are easy to package and sell.”

Here are some lead lines from recent country radio “hits”:

Hey girl, what’s up? — Old Dominion

Hey, y’all, what’s going on? Been waiting on this all day long. — Cole Swindell

Hey, girl, I’m just a small town run around. I get my kicks out on the outskirts of town. — Canaan Smith

I don’t know if you were looking at me or not. You probably smile like that all the time. — Sam Hunt [talking, not singing, BTW]

But Hunt is actually singing in this, um, timeless anthem: “If you’re gonna be a homebody we’re gonna have a house party!”

Sweet Fancy Moses! Makes me want to pull a John Belushi on the whole lot of ‘em! Even widely accomplished and respected Brad Paisley has caught the bug… but I’m sure Bro Country fans think he’s “crushin’ it.”

John Mayer had this to tweet about one performer/songwriter: “Jason Isbell is the best lyric writer of my generation. He lives at a level where even great writers can only visit.”

And, you guessed it, the former Drive By Truckers band member is nowhere near country radio!

“I don’t think country [radio] artists believe their songs,” LeVasseur added. “The creative process, both musically and lyrically, is based more on market research than art. For the industry and the artist to survive, it is more important to find a song that can sell rather than a unique creative piece. Music and lyrics have the power to help us better understand ourselves. But when the artist who creates the piece does not feel anything for the piece, other than its potential profitability, where does that leave us?”

It leaves us with commercial saviors such as the brilliant Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum and ol’ reliables Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney. And do yourself a favor and dig a little deeper for the luminous likes of Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Knight, Slaid Cleaves and the Blue Dogs.

In his book “A Walk in the Woods,” Bill Bryson describes a prattling, annoying fellow hiker as “awesomely brainless.” Although it was a long, tough slog the author did manage to find his moments of peace and inspiration in the country.



“Here’s your guitar back, Bro Country.”

The Soundtrack of My Youth

27 Sep

Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, an Atlanta-based rock band and the soundtrack to my Roswell, Ga., youth, was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame this weekend.

Local bands that captivate during one’s formative years always hold a special place in a person’s musical memories. Somehow DNC went even beyond that level, with the bassist’s mother having been my mom’s long-time hair stylist and then the 30-year-old band providing me the opportunity for my debut rock video appearance!

[Don’t blink around the 3:44 mark!]

STATS OF THE WEEK: Just the Way the Ball Bounces

25 Sep


The number of 4th quarter comebacks by the Falcons’ Matt Ryan — most by any NFL QB since the start of the 2008 season — after he led Atlanta back from a 10-point deficit to a 24-20 win against the New York Giants on Sunday. As dearly departed Yogi Berra famously said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”


The number of consecutive starts not including a win for Atlanta Braves starting pitcher  Shelby Miller after a “quality start” but another loss versus the Mets on Monday. The Braves’ only All-Star — yes, that is correct — hasn’t won a game since May 17th, when coincidentally he came within one out of a no-hitter against the Marlins. In 19 of the 23 games, Miller has given up four or fewer earned runs.


The number of passes completed by Georgia QB Greyson Lambert in the Bulldogs’ conference home opener. Out of 25 attempts! The former UVa. signal-caller set the NCAA single-game record for pass completion percentage (96) against the not-so Gamecocks of South Carolina.

STAT OF THE WEEK: “Right-Sizing”?

14 Aug
Braves: fire sale or fired up?

Braves: fire sale or fired up?

  • Following seven straight quarters of slumping sales across the nation, McDonald’s will shed a net 59 locations this year. It marks the first time in 45 years that the high-profile fast-food restaurant chain has shrunk.
  • Sesame Street, the 45-plus-year-old children’s TV show that attracts more than 6 million viewers across 150 countries each week, will cut its episode time in half as part of the Emmy-winning program’s move to HBO.
  • With the latest trade of third baseman Chris Johnson, my Atlanta Braves now have all of THREE players (!) remaining from their 2014 opening day 25-man roster.

Social Media to BLeeve In

24 Jul
To celebrate the 10-year anniversary (this weekend!) of the engagement of me and my wife and the 20-year anniversary of Acronym.com (or, at least, Acronym, the marketing agency), I feel compelled to engage my loyal followers and always lovely visitors.
Hope you social media types find the following helpful in your pursuit of a happy medium:
  • Engage, don’t sell. The latter is what sales & advertising are for.
  • News posts are great “filler” to keep your feed flowing and also a chance to take an issue forward with an expert add-on comment.
  • Give Credit! This shows you’re selfless, and it’s a great way to gain new followers and get your posts shared.
  • Activate your posts with hash tags so more people can find your content.
  • Gregariousness: It’s called social media after all. Folks will think of you more if you’re active & accessible.
  • Events: a never-miss opportunity to show you’re present, engaged and adding to the dialogue and thought leadership.
Just remember: when you share, you show you care, but don’t dare overshare!
Social engagement with a nice ring to it: We celebrated in the surf on July 25, 2005, after she said yes.

Social engagement with a nice ring to it: We celebrated in the surf on July 25, 2005, after she said yes.

Yes to Nostalgia

30 Jun
Pardon our progress and my nostalgia: our house expansion project proceeds amidst small reminders of our family’s original loving location.

Pardon our progress and my nostalgia: our house expansion project proceeds amidst small reminders of our family’s original loving location.

As not only Independence Day, but also a fun-packed family reunion approaches, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. Actually, there is no bit part for me when it comes to that feeling.

And, apparently, it’s going around: my father’s cousin and the de facto family historian posted on Facebook that June 29th marked two family wedding anniversaries (including hers), two birthdays (including her second grandchild’s 21st) and the date of a dear uncle’s passing (just 30 minutes before the aforementioned grandkid’s arrival).

“After a decade of study, nostalgia isn’t what it used to be — it’s looking a lot better,” reported the New York Times.

From anti-regret platitudes to Don Henley’s summertime hit, we’re taught or told to always face forward and seize the day. Did you know that nostalgia was even considered a disorder for a long while after the term was coined in the 17th century? (A Swiss physician sought to connect soldiers’ mental and physical ailments to their wistful wishes to return home — in Greek, nostos for home plus algos for pain).

Nostalgia does have that tugging-at-the-heartstrings component. It’s seemingly unavoidable for me. In the last month, I’ve rediscovered a 25-year-old typed motivational letter from my high school football coach that alternated between scripture and Shakespeare, heard my brother’s best friend growing up tearfully eulogize his father, basked in the afterglow of my 2-year-old giving me a hug and saying “thank you, Da-Da” after I told her I loved her during our family’s favorite beach walk in North Carolina and revisited the beautiful campus chapel where my wife and I got married.

In many ways, nostalgia can seem almost unfair though. Even the good memories are tinged with sadness because we realize we can’t go back. But, according to multiple studies, the positive effects of nostalgia abound — to the nth degree!?! — from counteracting loneliness, boredom and anxiety and literally making people feel warmer to even providing existential and evolutionary advantages.

“Experience it as a prized possession,” Dr. Constantine Sedikides at the University of Southampton told the Times. “When Humphrey Bogart says, ‘We’ll always have Paris,’ that’s nostalgia for you. We have it, and nobody can take it away from us. It’s our diamond.”

STATS OF THE WEEK: Sky High Fi-nancials

29 May

Even when things don’t quite add up, they still really add up:

  • America’s three biggest banks — JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo — collected more than $1.1 billion in overdraft fees in the first quarter of the year.
  • Unilever CEO Paul Polman told the Washington Post that the total salary bill of his 175,000-person company, which counts Ben & Jerry’s, Dove, Hellmann’s and Lipton among its 400 brands, is less than the bonuses just paid out to the financial industry in London.
  • The, um, generous, albeit a bit one-sided, Koch Brothers plan to dump a mere $900 million on the 2016 presidential election.

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