THE LEFSETZ LETTER: Feel Like A Rock Star

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I thought they called it COUNTRY music.


If Charlie Rich cut "The Most Beautiful Girl" he wouldn't be able to get any airplay, because suddenly country is rock. Only it's a watered-down, wimpy, non-threatening take on the corporate rock of the seventies. As for Hank Williams or George Jones…does anybody under the age of thirty really know who they are?


Artists lead, they don't follow. They're not beholden to their audience, IT'S THE OTHER WAY AROUND!


Ever hear a little ditty by the name of "Strawberry Fields Forever"? Not only did it sound unlike anything the Beatles had ever cut previously, it was different from absolutely everything on the radio. So what did the radio do? PLAY IT! And the audience embraced it. Because the Beatles weren't sniveling idiots asking for likes on Facebook, doing it all for the fans so they could keep up their resort island lifestyle. No, John Lennon was honest, he said the Beatles were bigger than Jesus AND THEY WERE!


Bob Lefsetz, Santa Monica-based industry legend, is the author of the e-mail newsletter, "The Lefsetz Letter". Famous for being beholden to no one, and speaking the truth, Lefsetz addresses the issues that are at the core of the music business: downloading, copy protection, pricing and the music itself.

His intense brilliance captivates readers from Steven Tyler to Rick Nielsen to Bryan Adams to Quincy Jones to music business honchos like Michael Rapino, Randy Phillips, Don Ienner, Cliff Burnstein, Irving Azoff and Tom Freston.

Never boring, always entertaining, Mr. Lefsetz's insights are fueled by his stint as an entertainment business attorney, majordomo of Sanctuary Music's American division and consultancies to major labels.

Bob has been a weekly contributor to CelebrityAccess and Encore since 2001, and we plan many more years of partnership with him. While we here at CelebrityAccess and Encore do not necessarily agree with all of Bob's opinions, we are proud to help share them with you.

But in today's country if you don't kiss the ring of the Evangelicals, if you don't embrace SUVs and a passel of kids you're not only an outlaw, but a heathen.


When did music become so safe?


As for rock… Top Forty radio refuses to play it and what's on the rock stations is a parody of itself. Longhaired guys repeating the riffs of generations past, trying to appear dangerous when wimpy Sean Parker is more of a threat.


But it's a reflection of our whole country. Ivy League graduates want to become bankers, everybody's trying to acquire a safety net while depriving their brethren of same. And the only innovation is in tech, where there's a plethora of new cool products and if you don't innovate, you die.



Kenny Chesney is a Commodore 64. Or a Radio Shack TRS-80. Something impressive in its day but now almost completely forgotten.


Yes, despite all the hype, Kenny's last stadium tour didn't sell out, they gave away a ton of tickets. As for Tim McGraw…his career is as challenged as that of his wife, he's on the verge of being a has-been, that's why he and Kenny are going out together, they're scared of doing it alone.


And they listen to the accountants and the lawyers and the program directors, to everyone but themselves.


Wait a minute, wasn't being a rock star about doing it YOUR WAY? Doing something dangerous, taking a risk, wowing the public instead of celebrating their passive lives?


That's how screwed up music is, it celebrates the audience's lifestyle!


The lemmings who go to Kenny Chesney's shows are not rock stars, believe me. Instead of thinking for themselves they're beholden to Fox News and money-grubbing preachers.


Oh, get your knickers in a twist. Excoriate me for telling the truth.


That's the problem in America, no one will speak the truth.


And the truth is modern country music is not. Neither modern nor country. And it's being held hostage by a corporate, right wing hierarchy that truly abhors rock stars.


Thank god it's a backwater. It means nothing outside the U.S. and I bet most of you reading this have never heard this lowest common denominator track.


But you should check it out. But only on an empty stomach. Otherwise you'll toss your cookies.


Kenny! What happened to the man who cut "On The Coast Of Somewhere Beautiful" and "I Go Back"? Maybe instead of trying to placate stadiums you should go play clubs and get your groove back.

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