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Country's Old Farts and Jackasses

by Cyndi Hoelzle

Country's Old Farts and Jackasses

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If you follow country music, you've probably heard Blake Shelton's now-infamous comment about "old farts" and "jackasses." During an interview on GAC he said, "Country music has to evolve in order to survive. Nobody wants to listen to their grandpa's music. And I don't care how many of these old farts around Nashville (are) going, 'My God, that ain't country!' Well, that's because you don't buy records anymore, jackass! The kids do, and they don't want to buy the music that you were buying."

Some high-profile old-timers, Ray Price chief among them, shot back via social media (!), telling the youngster to come back in 63 years and check in again, adding, "This guy sounds like … his head is so large no hat ever made will fit him." But leave it to funnyman Ray Stevens for the best quote: "I just heard Blake Shelton's remarks about old farts and jackasses, and all I want to know is how he found out the title to my next single, because it's been a closely guarded secret here at the 'Home.' It will be available on vinyl or 8-track at your nearest Tower Records store."

The truth is, it was a tempest in a teapot, as Shelton has made it no secret he loves traditional country music. He seemed devastated that he offended Ray Price, one of his heroes. And I'm pretty sure he was referring to record execs when he made the quip about non-record-buying jackasses.

Here's the thing: If you've ever seen The Voice, you know that Blake has a kind of Entertainer's Tourette Syndrome -- he says whatever pops into his head. That's kind of why we love him. And let's look at the facts. Blake's mentor and first producer was the legendary Bobby Braddock. (The writer of "He Stopped Loving Her Today," for god's sake!) He probably has more in common with old-school country singers than he does with the scrubbed and polished stars of today. He Tweets about being wasted at awards shows, and he's not afraid to cuss and drink on national TV. Now folks, that's country music.

Yet for all his bad-boy swagger, Shelton lists among his favorites not just the outlaws, but purveyors of countrypolitan lushness like John Conlee, Don Williams and Earl Thomas Conley. And so, for your listening pleasure, here's a selection of alleged old farts and jackasses. I bet Blake loves them all.

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