Do People Give A Damn About Songs Anymore?

The John Moreland song referenced in the title of this piece has been around for several years, but becomes more bitingly prophetic with each passing year (week? month?).  Dancehalls are dying and live music crowds are dwindling on the whole.  We’re a dying breed, y’all.  We care too much.  The songs mean way more to us than they do the average person.  This has always been the case, but is coming glaringly into focus as we move along.  Monoculture, technology, social media fakeness and generational differences have been bandied about as causes.  The most obvious cause is the decreasing value placed on music.  I grew up in a generation that thought nothing of paying upwards of $17.99 for a cd that may only have 1-2 good songs on it.  The current culture driving generation has had YouTube and streaming options since they were first able to remember what they dug.

On my appearance on The Co-Write podcast we discussed this generational difference. Co-host Bobby Duncan is a millenial, yet one of those who is the antithesis of his label.  There are many like him, but not an abundance.  The example we specifically talked about was Pat Green’s massiveness in 1999-2003 vs Turnpike Troubadours current domination. Despite the big league draw that Turnpike rightfully has, it is nowhere near the Texas cultural mass that PG enjoyed at his peak.  There are outliers and surprising anecdotes such as Aaron Watson and Cody Johnson’s showing at the Houston Rodeo.

Another smart tactic that CoJo is employing is the event show with a large bill.  Instead of rolling into your town every 2-3 months to play your local Wild West, Cody Johnson and his management crew have developed an old-school throwback package show.  A true event.  Sharing the bill with 3-4 other relatively large names. One night stands don’t just speed your young life away, they dilute the crowd.  Why go see that band you dig this time around when you know they’ll be back in 6 weeks (many times sooner)?  This fan apathy is normal and completely understandable.  Smart bands are getting social and making their gigs a special event.  Not just a place to come stand around and add clips to your Snap story while you talk in front of the microphone.

The other night, while presiding over the LJT songwriting finals, the namesake himself stood at the microphone for 2-3 minutes trying to tame a rowdy crowd long enough to announce the winner’s prize package.  Larry Joe invoked the Kent Finlay ethos of shut the hell up while the songwriters are performing. “We have 400 acres out there for you to talk and carry on in…but when you’re in here please be quiet.”  The noise died down, but the murmuring and cell phone posturing continued.

This generational divide popped up recently when the article in the above tweet went scene viral. Is the live music solution having earlier start times?  The opinions flowed.  College crowds drink the most, but don’t support live music on the whole.  Older, professional middle aged crowds support the music but don’t buy as much booze.  Is there a compromise?  One of the coolest suggestions was doing the two set thing like the Continental Club or your generic comedy club.  7PM set and a 10PM set.   It’s an interesting thought exercise.

The bottom line is people still do give a damn about songs…just in different ways.  And sadly, there aren’t as many of us that do.  Film and digital media, technology etc those are the new frontiers.  Live music isn’t dead, it’s just aging poorly.  But many of us will love it until the bitter end.  Sitting beside its hospice bed….adding clips to our Snap stories and singing along.

Brad Beheler

Raised in Waco, refined in the Hill Country, escaped from DFW. I've worked in just about every facet of the music business for 20 years. I like to write about it all. e-mail Brad Editor-in-Chief

23 thoughts on “Do People Give A Damn About Songs Anymore?

  • April 19, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    Heard the news about Wormy Dog OKC closing.
    Bummer. Still, from my perspective, optimism shouldn’t be lost – two reasons why:

    1) my Randy Rogers lesson:
    I admittedly turned into one of those “can’t handle the obnoxious Randy Rogers crowd anymore” – so I stopped going 10ish years ago.

    Fast forward to present day – Deep Ellum – Stressed out work week so we thought “Eh..ok train/uber…double date – RRB make a night of it. Let’s give it a try…”
    (Getting the energy to get there was half the battle.)
    They were totally worth it. Hadn’t changed a bit. We loved it. *ahh the nostalgia*
    I think a lot of people (like me) are stressed out, need the respite and will come back to the old (and new) fun times.

    2)the 18-24 age group:
    I can’t speak for them but in knowing several and talking to them – it seems like the 18-24 age group wants authentic experiences.
    As we all know, there is nothing more authentic then our kind of music.
    If our bands can hang on (keep on keepin’ on… if you will)
    and venues can adjust, I think they’ll help carry us.
    Quite frankly, I can’t wait to see what comes out of this age group. They’re fascinating!

  • April 24, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Loved the article. I’m 32, and jumped on the Texas Music scene back in 2003 while a Freshman at McNeese St. University in Lake Charles, LA. Had some roomates from Texas playing PG and Ragweed, and REK. Fell in love. Went to many live shows. Joined the Navy for six year, got out at age 26, moved to Austin. Lived and worked in Austin for 5 years. Had a kid within 7 months of locating to Austin. No family around, just me, my wife, and son. Live shows ended. Now we live back in Lake Charles, LA. We rarely see live music. I would love to, but I’m usually way too tired to go see a show that starts at 10:00 pm after working a 48 hours work week. I have things I need to do on the weekends, like mow the lawn, clean house, maintenance, chores, etc. Also, we have tee ball games, birthday parties, family get togethers. If music were played at 7:00 pm, I’d love to go. As it is, I’m lucky to catch maybe one or two shows a year.

  • October 6, 2018 at 6:52 am

    I always spent my half an hour to read this website’s articles
    everyday along with a cup of coffee.

  • October 10, 2018 at 12:15 am

    Its such as you read my mind! You seem to grasp so much about this, such as you
    wrote the ebook in it or something. I feel that
    you simply could do with some percent to drive the
    message home a little bit, but other than that, that is great blog.

    A great read. I’ll definitely be back.

  • October 11, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    Solone 【眼影】異想追逐魅惑眼影 Flight of Fancy Glamorous Eye Shadow的商品介紹 Solone,眼影,異想追逐魅惑眼影 Flight of Fancy Glamorous Eye Shadow

  • October 14, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    I simply want to tell you that I am all new to blogs and honestly liked your web-site. Likely I’m want to bookmark your site . You actually come with very good stories. Bless you for sharing with us your web page.

  • October 15, 2018 at 4:14 am

    高雄夜景頂樓酒吧|中央公園英迪格酒店高空酒吧PIER NO.1 |一起度假微醺週末夜 – 秘密女孩 Viki – FashionGuide 華人時尚專業評鑑 來我的FB/IG,找我玩,!,

  • October 16, 2018 at 9:11 am

    I am just commenting to make you be aware of what a brilliant encounter my friend’s girl enjoyed studying your web site. She noticed several things, including what it’s like to have an ideal coaching style to have men and women with no trouble master a variety of complicated subject areas. You undoubtedly did more than readers’ expectations. Thank you for distributing these warm and friendly, dependable, edifying and unique guidance on that topic to Ethel.

  • October 17, 2018 at 3:51 am

    I like what you guys are up also. Such clever work and reporting! Keep up the superb works guys I have incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it’ll improve the value of my site 🙂

  • October 17, 2018 at 3:52 am

    I precisely desired to say thanks again. I do not know what I would’ve taken care of without the type of methods discussed by you concerning that field. It became a real frightful matter for me, however , finding out a professional form you managed that took me to leap for contentment. I am just happier for this support as well as have high hopes you comprehend what an amazing job you happen to be doing educating the rest all through a blog. More than likely you haven’t got to know any of us.

  • October 17, 2018 at 5:30 am

    I do agree with all the ideas you have offered for your post. They’re really convincing and can definitely work. Still, the posts are too short for novices. May just you please lengthen them a bit from next time? Thank you for the post.

  • October 17, 2018 at 4:11 pm


  • October 18, 2018 at 1:36 am

    You can certainly see your skills within the paintings you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to say how they believe. All the time go after your heart.

  • October 18, 2018 at 1:53 am

    I like the valuable info you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and check again here regularly. I am quite certain I will learn lots of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

  • October 18, 2018 at 1:54 am

    Good ¡V I should certainly pronounce, impressed with your web site. I had no trouble navigating through all tabs as well as related info ended up being truly easy to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it in the least. Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or anything, website theme . a tones way for your client to communicate. Excellent task..

  • October 18, 2018 at 2:15 am

    fantastic issues altogether, you simply gained a emblem new reader. What could you suggest in regards to your submit that you simply made a few days ago? Any positive?

  • October 18, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely think this amazing site needs a great deal more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read through more,
    thanks for the advice!

  • October 22, 2018 at 1:17 am

    Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all of us you actually recognise what you’re talking about! Bookmarked. Kindly also discuss with my site =). We may have a link trade agreement between us!

  • October 22, 2018 at 4:57 am

    Hello there, You’ve done an excellent job. I will certainly digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I am sure they will be benefited from this site.

  • October 22, 2018 at 6:02 am

    Excellent weblog here! Also your site rather a lot up very fast! What host are you the usage of? Can I am getting your associate link in your host? I wish my web site loaded up as fast as yours lol

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.