Tom Petty made his bold, controversial opinion known regarding the state of modern country music in a recent interview with industry publication Rolling Stone (see his statements below). In response, singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton, whose recent "What Are You Listening To?" single is making headway at country radio, responded by sharing an open letter to Petty on his Facebook.
"I think it's safe to say most modern country artists, including me, would list you as an influence," Stapleton began his note. "Your recent comments lead me to believe you see room for improvement in modern country music. I, for one, would like to see you put you money where your mouth is in a tangible way."
"So, in the interest of making Country music less 'shitty' (your words), I suggest a collaboration," he continued, quite frankly. "I'm extending an open invitation to you to write songs with me, produce recordings on or with me, or otherwise participate in whatever way you see fit in my little corner of music. In the event that you actually read this and are interested, look me up."
To backtrack, Petty made some crass and generalized statements about modern country artists. He had told Rolling Stone, "I hate to generalize on a whole genre of music, but it does seem to be missing that magic element that it used to have. I'm sure there are people playing country that are doing it well, but they're just not getting the attention that the shittier stuff gets."
He added, noting that newcomers lack the creativity and originality of many of the genre's legends, "But that's the way it always is, isn't it? But I hope that kind of swings around back to where it should be. But I don't really see a George Jones or a Buck Owens or any anything that fresh coming up. I'm sure there must be somebody doing it, but most of that music reminds me of rock in the middle Eighties where it became incredibly generic and relied on videos. I don't want to rail on about country because I don't really know much about it, but that's what it seems like to me."
Since Petty's comments in the Aug. 5 interview, the blogosphere has been a fury of heated debates and outrageous comments lashing out at the rocker. On the flip side, many casual fans have given the legend the green light, agreeing that modern times have seen a nosedive with the quality of what radio plays and passes off as the mainstream.
Following his note, Stapleton has since taken to Twitter to further defend his letter. "There are disposable versions of music in all formats. Always have been," he told one user. Another commenter prompted a discussion around the idea of Nashville producing "too many similar songs," to which he replied, "To me, if you don't like a song it just means it wasn't meant for you to like. It's for someone else."
He went on, "I think the demand for similar songs has produced similar songs. Simple economics. Supply & demand. I look at songwriting less personally, I guess. I try to write songs to fill the needs of the listener."
So, dear reader, what is your stance on this hot-button issue?
Side note: If you don't know who Chris is or have never heard "What Are You Listening To?," take a listen:
Photo Credit: Facebook