Blake Shelton and that old fart Dale Watson

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Dale Watson (second from left) with his Lonestars
  • Dale Watson (second from left) with his Lonestars
Back in December a cable channel called Great American Country aired a documentary on current Nashville darling and king-size jamoke Blake Sheltonone of those eloquent supporters of armed guards in American schools—which belatedly generated some controversy when the website Saving Country Music highlighted one of the beefcake singer's more insulting comments in the program. "If I am 'Male Vocalist of the Year' that must mean that I'm one of those people now that gets to decide if it moves forward and if it moves on," Shelton said. "Country music has to evolve in order to survive. Nobody wants to listen to their grandpa's music, and I don't care how many of these old farts around Nashville going, 'My God, that ain't country.' Well, that's because you don't buy records anymore, jackass. The kids do, and they don't want to buy the music that you were buying."

While it's hard to argue with his assertion that the kids aren't buying old-school country records, it's hard to characterize Shelton's soft-rock twang, including songs that talk about getting waxed, as an evolution of country music. In any case, his dopey comments drew fire from the great Ray Price, who responded on his Facebook page on January 24:

It's a shame that I have spend 63 years in this business trying to introduce music to a larger audience and to make it easier for the younger artists who are coming behind me. Every now and then some young artist will record a rock and roll type song , have a hit first time out with kids only. This is why you see stars come with a few hits only and then just fade away believing they are God's answer to the world. This guy sounds like in his own mind that his head is so large no hat ever made will fit him. Stupidity Reigns Supreme!!!!!!! Ray Price (CHIEF "OLD FART" & JACKASS") " P.S. YOU SHOULD BE SO LUCKY AS US OLD-TIMERS. CHECK BACK IN 63 YEARS (THE YEAR 2075) AND LET US KNOW HOW YOUR NAME AND YOUR MUSIC WILL BE REMEMBERED

Closer in age to Shelton (36) is Dale Watson (50), who also took umbrage at the old-farts comment, a position which makes sense, considering that he's been sticking up for those old farts for more than two decades, first excoriating the aesthetic choices of contemporary country with his classic "Nashville Rash." Watson, who called Shelton the "Lance Armstrong of country music," responded with the tossed-off ditty below, which includes the immortal line "Well, I'd rather be an old fart than a new country turd."

Watson's new album with his long-running Lonestars, El Rancho Azul (Red House), eschews the finger-pointing game, and instead it serves up the kind of classic honky-tonk he's been purveying his whole career. After the detour he made on his 2011 album The Sun Sessions, where he emulated the stripped-down sound of Johnny Cash's Texas Two, the new record is back to the woozy pedal steel and drinking songs (no less than half a dozen of them, four including the word "drink" in the title). "We're Gonna Get Married" essentially sets new lyrics to the Bob Wills standard "Take Me Back to Tulsa," while in the ballad "Daughter's Wedding Song" Watson switches from the groom to the father of the bride, getting all weepy in the process. The album also includes a great pair of complementary tunes that double as how-to guides for the country two-step ("Quick Quick Slow Slow") and the waltz ( "Slow Quick Quick"). But I like the upbeat tunes best, whether it's "Where Do You Want It," a song immortalizing a 2007 incident where Texas great Billy Joe Shaver shot a man in the jaw following a barroom argument, or "I Drink to Remember," where alcohol allows the narrator to delude himself into thinking that booze is preventing his ex from realizing how much she misses him ("I remember your kisses that taste like my wine / You forget that you miss me and these arms of mine").

Below you can check out the opening track, "I Lie When I Drink," a great new tear-in-my-beer-style gem.

Watson rolls into town for a show at Martyrs' on Wednesday night. And speaking of old farts, kicking this off is the great, hulking Sleepy LaBeef, a guy who's been making records for nearly six decades.

Today's playlist:

The Roots, Undun (Def Jam)
Cloning Americana, For Which it Stands (Sunnyside)
Bossa Tres e Jo Basile, Bossa Tres e Jo Basile (Ubatuqui)
Eliane Radigue, Transamorem-Transmorten (Important)
MIMEO, Wigry (Bolt/Monotype)

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