George Strait and Alan Jackson: Murder on Music Row (2000)

 |   |  1 min read

George Strait and Alan Jackson: Murder on Music Row (2000)

There has been quite a tradition in country music of complaining about how it has lost its roots, lost its way, been taken over by big business and stars selling out for the almighty dollar.

Way back Waylon asked Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way? and ol' Hank Williams (something of a rebel himself, remember) seems to be the touchstone for authenticity and the pure strain of country -- although his peers often didn't think so.

With the rise of Garth Brooks in the Nineties -- who grew up on stadium rock and always said Kansas and Styx were as big an influence as Hank et al -- there were once more gripes and complaints.

That Nashville is more about business than music is a given, but when George Strait and Alan Jackson weighed in with Murder on Music Row (written by Larry Cordle and Larry Shell, originally recorded by their bluegrasss group in 1999) it sent a few ripples through the Nashville establishment.

In part the lyrics run: "someone killed country music, cut out its heart and soul. They got away with murder down on Music Row . . . The almighty dollar and the lust for worldwide fame, slowly killed tradition, and for that, someone should hang". 

The lyrics also bitched about the rock-style production given to country songs ("the steel guitar no longer cries and you can't hear fiddles play, but drums and rock'n'roll guitars are mixed up in your face") and of course -- Waylon-style -- noted that the likes of Hank and Merle Haggard wouldn't stand a chance with today's country radio programmers.

Ironically the song won many country music awards and in 2001 the version by Strait and Jackson was voted the song of the year by the Country Music Association.

Is that what they mean when they say keep your friends close, but your enemies closer?

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with a backstory see From the Vaults

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Sam Gopal: Escalator (1969)

Sam Gopal: Escalator (1969)

Everyone has to start somewhere, and most diehard Motorhead fans can tell you their mainman, the legendary Lemmy, was in the psychedelic spacerock outfit Hawkwind before he was kicked out for... > Read more

Tom Russell: Chocolate Cigarettes (1991)

Tom Russell: Chocolate Cigarettes (1991)

Whether his stories are literally true or not (and some, like the Leadbelly song about boxer Jack Johnson being denied passage on the maiden voyage of the Titanic, aren't), the American... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

FISTFUL OF VINYL: Records ride back over the horizon

FISTFUL OF VINYL: Records ride back over the horizon

A true coincidence? Within half an hour of speaking with my son in London about some wonderful on-line world which allows streaming access to what seems like a billion songs, a familiarly shaped... > Read more

GRAMSCI, REVIEWED (2020): Sobering thoughts for staging a show

GRAMSCI, REVIEWED (2020): Sobering thoughts for staging a show

Many weeks ago during the second Covid lockdown in Auckland, Paul McLaney – mainman behind his Gramsci project – spoke via Zoom to my third-year music at Auckland university. I... > Read more