My journey in pictures

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Conrad-Part II-"They're Eating Their Young"

I asked David what’s lacking in today’s music.
“Oh man….. (thinking) I think originality is lacking and I haven't paid much attention since the time I stopped. (Me) But you signed Sugarland who’s doing great now? (DC) But my job then was to identify a great singer or artists (as head of A&R at MCA/Mercury); an artist we could develop to sell records i.e. a great singer and performer. I wasn’t worried about songs one way or the other because I know from my experience that I can find songs. As luck would have it, she just busted out there and started singing some great shit that was "records", you know? She just happened to be the best (that he’d found at the time) and in the caliber of Martina (as a singer) or Trisha (Yearwood) as an individualist. He gets outta the car and runs into the building (“I’ll be as quick as I can”).  
    Don’t know if I answered your question but the odd time that I do tune back in to WSIX (local Country radio) I don’t hear anything at all original. I don’t mean that every thing is bad because there’s some great songs. “The House That Built Me” is just one of the neatest songs I’ve heard in a long time. In fact there is some originality to the songs (nowadays). Miranda Lambert could have been one of 10 chick singers (that coulda sang the song) and you can say look “well you don’t listen anymore”…. but I’ll maintain it’s clear to you who’s singing that because of the song she’s singing (that it’s Miranda). Not because of the timbre of her voice or the diction or the meter that she uses or the style that she sings in, based on the same application to Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette or Johnny Cash.  “Well, you’re just an old, man” (people could say/David made me take out the GREAT expletive in this sentence :( ). Well I’m sorry! I’m not buying that shit! There are real artists with individual and unique sounds in their voices and there are “sound alikes”. You know, there’s clones and the majority of people out there making country records are just clones.  There’s a common look and there’s a common sound that's required by “the business” and radio and of course now they're getting it "shoved up their ass", so I think now they maybe a little looser and little more inventive in allowing… and embracing (unique) stuff. I don’t know if Jamey Johnson is the next Waylon but he was to me at least fresh. He apparently "walked the walk and talked the talk", you know?
(DC going on about the evolution): .....from the 70’s through the 80’s you had Milsap, Pride, Mandrell, John Anderson, Johnny Rodriguez, a young Reba, Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley and you still had George Jones and Waylon. They were unique, (and) unto themselves. They were individuals with individual sounds. But you didn’t have an Easton Corbin who sounded EXACTLY like George Strait (during those years). Now I don’t begrudge the boy that (Easton). He’s really good and he cut a really good song (and my heart is in the good song). In the 70’s those artists were unique, in the 80’s they continued to be unique and careers begin to wind down and that’s when you had The Judds (with Kenny O’Dell, Paul Kennerley and Kent Robbins songs). AGAIN identifiable and when they opened their mouths, you knew (who they were). Then came Randy Travis... the “New Traditionalist” they called him. I don’t know who came up with that?! You’re traditional or not but I suppose he was “new” and THEN with Clint Black and Garth Brooks it allllll changed. Every kid that came along and the whole notion of the “hat act” (happened). The homogeneity… ALL of the homogeneity settled in with the advent of Clint Black and Garth Brooks. Every f'ing one of them! Every man who made records, looked like, performed like, acted like, conducted themselves like or sought out songs like Garth Brooks or Clint Black. Clint got off the ground before Garth but a year and a half in (to his career) he spent a year or so suing his manager and not taking care of business and Garth Brooks just came outta nowhere and blew his fucking doors off. Now today just as severely, the women for the most part are exactly the same way. Carrie Underwood while a great singer seemed to be the prototype... they look like her, they sound like her. The labels saw that and couldn’t wait to get their hands it. It’s like building automobiles. If they’re not a Mercedes or a BMW, you at least want them to look like one. But I don’t confuse the artist with the song. I honestly believe there are great writers here. Writers that were not here in the year 2000. They’ve shown up, they’ve developed so I don’t blame it on the songs. It’s the artists that are eatin their young sort of, you know?

P.S. David's working with 2 young new writer/artists (not Country artists, funny enough). One he got a" major" record deal after developing her for about a year (Megan McCormick on Rykodisc), the other is Alyssa Bonagura who's gonna do just fine, I'm guessing :)  


  1. "There are real artists with individual and unique sounds in their voices and there are “sound alikes”. You know, there’s clones and the majority of people out there making country records are just clones."

    That sounds just like the scene in Texas....

  2. Nice to meet you last night. Such a small world. As a "newbie" parent in the music scene with a 14 year old (riley) who's dipping her toe in the the music industry water, I find these posts fascinating reading....

  3. Great stuff Scott. Say "hi" to David for me when you talk to him next.

  4. had the pleasure of seeing him in Memphis, TN at The Pyramid back in 1998. It is a concert that I will never forget Garth Brooks Tickets were great and I have been a GB fan from the day I heard The Dance... I will be a fan til the day I die.

  5. Hey,

    I am an old songwriting buddy of David Conrad's and don't have any contact information for him. I've been living in the Northwest since 1982 and I'm hoping to see him when I come to Nashville in late July for a conference. Could you help me get in touch with him? Thank you,

    Geof Morgan - "Busiest Memory in Town" "20-20 Vision" and "Love is Thin Ice" from the 1970's.

  6. Geof, send your e-mail to and I'll give you David's info.