1985... The Highwaymen... Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson... almost ruined country music for me forever. In 1985, I was 13 years old and deep into my obsession with rock and roll at that time, more specifically Hair Metal and power ballads. 1985 was also during the time that the national speed limit was 55mph. We used to drive from Dallas to Munday, TX (yes. that really is a town in west Texas where a lot of my family on my mom's side still lives) almost every other weekend, and with a 55mph speed limit, it would take us between 3 and 1/2 and 4 hours to make the drive... while we listened to The Highwaymen... on cassette tape... one side after the other... for 3 and 1/2 to 4 hours straight... and I was stuck in the backseat of my mom's Ford Tempo because my sister is 2 years and 9 months older than me, and that's just the way it went. Fast forward just a bit in 1985 and along comes this guy named George Strait and his song "The Chair" to save country music for me! I remember thinking to myself how cool it would be to actually use those lines on a girl in a bar and have them work. But I wasn't old enough to be in a bar trying those lines out on any girl, so I lived vicariously thru George Strait from that day forward!
Now there's this joke about country music... you know the one, "What do you get when you play a country song backwards? You get your truck back, your dog back, you get your first wife back..... blah, blah, blah..." Well, try playing a country song forward and see what you get instead. No pretension, no gimmicks, no over the top production, no auto-tune. You get honest, raw emotion that speaks to you from the heart. I challenge you to find one friend who hasn't lived a country song at some time in their life. Country music is simple arrangements, honest lyrics about life, love and family- sometimes happy, sometimes sad, but always honest. Country music today has a certain cross-over appeal, thanks in large part to American Idol winner Carrie Underwood and teen phenom Taylor Swift. But for my money, I'd love to see country music get back closer to its roots. That's where Nick Gibson steps in.
Like every other new artist whose music I've discovered, I found Nick Gibson on Twitter. From the first time I heard You and Tennessee on Wise Radio, to every time I hear I Go Crazy on my iPod, I've been a fan and gain a deeper admiration for the country artist that Nick Gibson is. He's made appearances on the Wise Radio's weekly Top 10 countdown, and also spent several weeks as a favorite on their weekly Music Challenge. He describes his own sound on his Facebook page "country mixed with a little rock 'n a little blues", I describe him as radio ready RIGHT NOW. There isn't another country artist on mainstream country radio quite like him today, which is why he is so important to the future of the genre. With country music, you run the risk of getting into a rut, so to speak. Before long, it seems like every other artist on the radio starts to sound like every other artist. I don't know if you'd chalk that up to record execs sitting back on their heels and putting out cookie cutter after cookie cutter, but considering their unwillingness to put real artists out there for the music fans, I probably would.
So where does Nick Gibson fit into today's country music scene? George Strait, Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, Kenney Chesney, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton... does he deserve to draw comparisons to his contemporaries? Of course he does, but why should we do that to him? Why ask him to duplicate what other artists have done before him? Why not let his artistic ability stand on it's own merit and allow him to carve out his place in the annals of country music?
I honestly believe that Nick Gibson deserves to draw comparisons of his own someday soon. So go out for yourself and discover this wildly talented country superstar in the making. You'll be glad you did... I know I am!
The essential Nick Gibson links:
Nick Gibson on iTunes
And Mr Gibson, this Dr Pepper's for you!
And Mr Gibson, this Dr Pepper's for you!
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