Monday, June 24, 2013

Journobit: Chet Flippo

Chet Flippo, the man who put the country into Rolling Stone, has died.

Here's a slice of Flippo's Dolly Parton coverstory from 1980, the point where Parton was about to add film star to her already packed cv:

One of the lesser noticed of twelve children in a poor Tennessee family, Dolly began planning her escape to the world of money and glamour as soon as she heard about it. The minute she was out of high school, she was on a Greyhound bus to Nashville to try to be a country star. But girl singers – that's what they called them then – in country music were rare and generally regarded as so much flesh. Parton used her iron will, her incredibly seductive and powerful voice, her ability to write songs and her self-confidence and ambition to knock down the brick walls that stood between her and her goals. She also played up her beauty and her hourglass figure. She started to make secret lists of the fairy-tale futures she sought. She is a fiercely positive thinker, and her private lists worked like voodoo. Nashville never knew what hit it. She became a country star.

Still, Nashville wasn't enough, so she plotted her superstar map and left Nashville for Los Angeles and full blown pop management. Her husband, Carl Dean, a seldom-seen Nashville contractor, approved, and she set out to become superfamous. She deliberately made the kind of pop music she thought would gain her both a new audience and the power to do whatever she wanted. She thinks the strategy is working.
After his time at Rolling Stone, Flippo wrote books, taught journalism and then wound up as editorial director of CMT. But you can take the man out of music journalism, but... well, he still was writing a weekly column, Nashville Skyline, for the CMT website.

His last column appeared earlier this month, and aptly for a man best known writing which helped country crossover, he ended with some thoughts on the new Nashville crossovers:
There's also the war between modern radio country -- also being called old rock masquerading as country -- and more traditional artists and then, of course, there's also hick-hop music. You'll see plenty of all of that on display this week.

And there was also the sight of both Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift performing recently onstage with the Rolling Stones. That gives a whole new definition to crossover country.

But then there was also the recently-taped CMT Crossroads with Jack White hosting Willie Nelson as his Third Man Records studio downtown, with Leon Russell, Norah Jones, Neil Young and others, with music ranging all across the country music spectrum.

Then we have the spectacle of Natalie Maines -- remember her? -- declaring "war on Nashville" in the pages of Rolling Stone. Apparently, Maines' war consists of angrily stamping her foot and saying, "Oh, fie!"
Chet Flippo had been ill for some time. He died June 19th, in Nashville, at the age of 69.

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