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ukelady O Brother vs. Morons (75* d) Dave Marsh Article 23 Apr 01

Here's an interesting article.

Marsh on Music Dave Marsh - Monday, April 16, 2001

For the past eight weeks, the number one selling country album in the United States has been the bluegrass-based soundtrack to the film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" The record also is charting in the mid-teens on the pop album chart.

Maybe that doesn't seem like much to you but consider that the most important bluegrass artists of all time - Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers, Jimmy Martin and Flatt and Scruggs - never cracked the pop hot 100 at all. Ralph Stanley, the star of O Brother's soundtrack, has been making solo records for about 35 years without ever charting either an album or a single; the Stanley Brothers had only one chart single in 20 years.

Yet country radio programmers recently told the Washington Post they consider this music "poison." Absolutely nothing from the album is being programmed, not even the stuff by the Soggy Bottom Boys, which is a hit on Country Music Television (CMT). If you were already under the impression that there is no more stupid group of people in America than country radio programmers, consider the point proven.

Country radio asks and receives allegiance from its hitmakers that no other format can command. In return, it consistently rewards mediocrity. Mediocrity is exactly the difference between Jessica Andrews' personable 1999 debut album, "Heart Shaped World," and her current "Who I Am," whose title track is the current No.1 country single. Who I Am is so generic that I felt like the title really ought to be Who Am I?

Andrews at No.1 counts for something. But the real story is told by the album charts, where radio airplay is not a factor; only sales count there. There, O Brother is perched at No.14 as I write, gazing down at the Andrews album at No. 56.

Yet no one in country radio is even taking a fling at the O Brother material. Maybe the programmers talk themselves out of it because O Brother also includes some black gospel performances, or because they agree with me that the best thing on it is Stanley's unprogrammable "O Death." But what about the Alison Krauss / Gillian Welch duet on "I'll Fly Away?" What about the novelty potential of "In the Highways" by the pre-adolescent Peasall sisters?

Those can't be played even though they might work, because they might not. Mistakes are fatal to the careers of program directors, even though an environment in which mistakes can't be made is fatal to everything else. Every one of America's 148 country radio stations is being programmed in an environment that forbids such risks. That's because the buying and selling of radio stations in the "deregulated" world brought to you by Al Gore - a politician largely created by wads of Nashville cash - has spawned huge loads of debt and an army of brokers and bankers demanding it be "serviced" (a euphemism in both finance and brothels).

This situation doesn't exist only in country radio. It's worse there - but not much worse. All across the radio spectrum, you can hear almost nothing but nothingness. America's radio is at war with America's music. Broadcasting is sick and getting sicker. But if you're willing to work at it a little, the music - all kinds of it, especially the stuff that can't get airplay - is getting healthier and healthier. Learning to live without commercial radio is forcing people to make smarter records and to be aggressive in seeking alternate paths to their audiences.

This is the final measure of O Brother's triumph. To have broken the stranglehold of the programming morons in the most reactionary bastion of America's music world and gone all the way to No.1 may not be the story of the year, but as a harbinger, it might be the story of the decade.

(c) Copyright 2000 Dave Marsh Syndicated by ParadigmTSA

Here are the threads that have been started on this movie:
1. O Brother, Where Art Thou
2. Lyr Req: o brother
3. Lyr Req: O' Brother, 'rocky candy mountains'
4. New Film, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
5. Oh brother where art thou ?
6. O Brother, where, etc.:Soundtrack/conc.
7. Lyr Req: o, brother where art thou soundtrack
8. I've just seen O Brother Where Art Thou
9. O Brother vs. Morons
11. 'Oh Brother' on stage
12. Oh Brother...
13. BS: o brother, where art thou
14. O Brother, Where Art Thou Video
--JoeClone, 19-Dec-01.

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