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What’s Your Truth?

Josh Abbott recently released his latest single “My Texas” and received some harsh criticism from an array of folks. I myself have many times taken Josh’s music to task for its lack of depth and cliché-ridden lyrics and he knows this. Last night, stung by the reaction by the Rita Ballou commenters by some to his latest song, Josh tweeted this:

“Some days you just laugh at the critics, but some days it gets to ya. I need to develop tougher skin I guess.”

and

“wish ppl would give the deeper lyrics as much attention as they do the “cheesy” ones. Not trying to save the world here, just playing music.”

As I told him in reply on Twitter, he needs to make music for himself and not the critics or anyone else. The minute music is produced with restrictions and the notion of trying to please a target audience, it loses its soul. The moment music becomes a marketing ploy and not an organic artistic statement is a tragedy.

I’d be willing to bet that there have been numerous times over the years that Kenny Chesney has been asked by his label to stretch out of the nostalgic, Buffett-lite zone he’s been stuck in since ’99. But, he can’t help but be who he is. He records those tunes because they speak to him, not because he’s worried about what critics might say about it. Chesney’s never been a critical darling and the blogosphere takes him to task for every piece of his music and lifestyle…but he’s able to soothe himself with sold out stadiums and $100 bills.

To take it back to the 90’s grunge movement as I’m often wont to do,
Kurt Cobain made music for himself. No apologies. With the winking sarcasm of “here we are now, entertain us” fired as a prophetic salvo of self-awareness. He didn’t write his songs because he thought people would dig it and he’d knock Michael Jackson and hair metal off MTV. He wrote it because it spoke to his truth. It just so turned out that it was the truth of a whole generation. That connection must happen naturally, it cannot be forced…which is something that many folks around Texas/Red Dirt seem to have forgotten all too often lately.

A manufactured movement is a product. A revolution is tangible.

At the end of the day, no matter what field you’re in, you must be able to look at yourself in the mirror and find comfort in your own truth. In line with that, 40,000 people heard the “My Texas” tune at LJTs and went bananas.

Abbott’s on to something. If it makes him happy and connects with an audience, then he really shouldn’t give a damn what I or any other person, critic or anyone else has to say about it.

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