Coal Miner’s Granddaughter - MCR 7.23.14
As a staff music writer for The Tennessean in the early 2000s, I got a crash course in the Music City system, from the sublime to the ridiculous. Quite a few publicists could not understand why I did not share their conviction that Shania Twain and Garth Brooks were the most important things ever to happen to country music and worthy of endless coverage and admiration. I was admonished by Toby Keith’s manager for whispering to a colleague while Mr. Keith was speaking to the press backstage at a CMT awards show.
Pomposity and pretention also felt baked in to so many of the records that muscled themselves to the top of the charts and awards shows. The producers had thousands of knobs to turn, so they turned them. Radio seemed to love steroid-enhanced volume, so everything was cranked to 11. But in contrast to all that, my favorite part of the job was to be surprised on a regular basis by the understated, unpretentious albums that came across my desk from superb Nashville artists little-known outside of town.
One of my favorites was called Simple Path by Irene Kelley, who plays MCR this week.