The moon comes up and the sun goes down
We find a little spot on the edge of town
Twist off, sip a little, pass it around
Dance in the dust, turn the radio up
And that fireball whiskey whispers
Temptation in my ear
It’s a feelin’ alright FRIDAY night
And that’s how we do it ’round here
Yeah, that’s how we do it round here

So I’m in the middle of a dusty field in the California desert and Thomas Rhett, cowriter of this gigantic hit for Florida Georgia Line, drops out and from behind me I hear this giant noise as the thousands sing the chorus, in time, every word, at the top of their lungs.

Brings tears to my eyes.

This ain’t no Coachella.

Not that there aren’t beautiful women in skimpy outfits, it’s just that you don’t know their names. Oh, I saw Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis at Shelby Lynne, but truly, the only famous people in attendance were on stage.

In case you missed the memo, country is the number one radio format. You might think Miley Cyrus is a star. Or Avicii. But the truth is, in America these young pickers singing songs sans beats are the biggest players in the market, and if you went to one of their shows you’d say…THIS FEELS ALL RIGHT, I RECOGNIZE THIS!

Yes, Tom Petty is right, much of what emanates from Nashville resembles nothing so much as the rock music of the seventies. But this is the sound so many love. Write a new song, put in a fiddle or banjo, and voila! You’ve got modern country!

Now I’m not saying I saw no bad bodies. But if you’re into ogling, Stagecoach is your thing, boy or girl. I saw hunks walking around sans t-shirts who looked like they just came from the gym, and if your idea of attractiveness is cowboy boots and cut-off jeans…COME ON DOWN!

And they’re here for the music.

Not the undercard, but the headliners.

I was stunned how few people showed up for Shelby Lynne and the Wailin’ Jennys. Isn’t that what festivals are supposed to be about, grazing? You know, you go to Coachella, see the band of the moment, and forget about it. No one ever broke out of Coachella. And no one’s gonna break out of Stagecoach, but if you’ve already made it, you’re gonna go on a victory lap nonpareil.

And it is rock. Lynyrd Skynyrd started off with a full play of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” Unfortunately, it was better than their performance, because there’s only one Ronnie Van Zant, and rock music should not be played in a tent, it doesn’t sound so good, bouncing off the walls.

And when Eric Church took the stage and sang his hit the girls were leaning against the fence with their arms in the air, noggins pointing to the sky singing…

Give me back my hometown

Is there anything more fun, more enjoyable than singing along with a song you know by heart as its performer blasts the sound from the stage so loud you can’t hear yourself?

Come on you pill-poppin’ dancin’ fools, admit it, you remember grammar school, sitting in the car with your beloved as the radio played, it’s as American as apple pie, as life-affirming as an A on the test and riding up PCH with the top down and the wind blowing back your hair!

A giant sea of humanity on the exact same page, exulting…


Yes, I saw anti-Obama t-shirts, too many American flags, I heard a bunch of jingoistic lyrics, and I winced, but I did feel included, it felt like…America.

Society is unfathomable. The right and the left fight in Washington. People shoot and stab each other. Every week there’s a new tech invention. Making sense of it is essentially undoable.

And then you go to the country show and it all comes clear, you’re right where you belong. You say to yourself…THIS IS THE MUSIC BUSINESS I KNOW AND BELIEVE IN!

Come on, we don’t want to pay extra to be down front, we want to be part of the assembled multitude, feeling as one as the energy ripples up and down the crowd.

The people-watching is incredible. Like that old song, there are short ones, tall ones, big ones, small ones…

And they’re all here not to make the scene, see and seen, but TO HEAR THE MUSIC!

I’d say it’s refreshing, but it’s been this way for years, and the coastal establishment continues to ignore it, Top Forty radio banishes it, but it’s the sound that is truly underpinning our country.

When Katy Perry’s hits run out, I hope she has an acting career, because no one will want to see her.

But even though he’s still wet behind the ears, people will want to see Thomas Rhett for decades, because he didn’t sing about how he was better than us, he didn’t play to a glitterati we’ll never be a member of, rather he sang to and about US!

Life is so confusing.

The rich have all the money and tell us how much better they are, creating our jobs, all kinds of hogwash.

We can’t pay the bills, we’re worried about the future, hope flickers.

And then we turn on the country radio and we say…WE RECOGNIZE THIS!

And there’s too much about babies and Jesus and trucks, but if you hang in there, you see guitars and songs, no dancing, no backdrops, only music.

And the power is palpable and undeniable.

See Eric Church on stage and you won’t want to be a techie, neither banker nor doctor, you’ll pick up your axe and practice, because your heart’s desire will be to take the stage in front of tens of thousands, singing your heart out as they sing your message BACK TO YOU!

One Response to Stagecoach


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  1. Trackback by On The Download | 2014/04/26 at 22:28:38

    By the numbers

    LISTEN: Nickelback, " How You Remind Me of Somebody " (mp3, via Nintendorks ) Every now and

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  1. Trackback by On The Download | 2014/04/26 at 22:28:38

    By the numbers

    LISTEN: Nickelback, " How You Remind Me of Somebody " (mp3, via Nintendorks ) Every now and

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