Vince Gill has been around a long time. He’s a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and he’s collaborated with just about everyone you can imagine. As a guy who’s been around the likes of Merle Haggard and Dolly Parton, the current state of country music must seem a bit “much” for him. But unlike some artists, Vince doesn’t choose to be the guy to tear down the current state of country music. Instead, he tells RollingStone Country that he’s a cheerleader.
I don’t want to be that guy. I’ll do it with what I choose to do, but I don’t need to be the mouthpiece. In saying that, all I know is that historically, if you look at [country] throughout its entirety, this has always been going on. It always strays away and then comes back, strays away, comes back. There’s no rule to how it has to be, how it should be.
It is ironic though that its lyrical message is beating you about [how country it is], but its musical message is nothing related to it at all. To me, it’s a mixed message. I feel like it’s fair to have an opinion, it’s fair to like what you like. The weird thing is if you make a comment like that, I think that the young generation takes it as criticism. And it doesn’t have an ounce of criticism intended. You’ll meet some of these kids and you’ll think, “This is the greatest guy in the world. How can you not like this guy?” You may not be crazy about his music, and that’s fair, but it doesn’t need to be personal.
I think any time somebody is not nuts about what you do, it’s critical, and I get that. But at the same time, I just want to go, ‘I’m not being critical, it’s just not for me. It is for you, and I’m cheering you on.’ I want these kids to live their dreams, want them to be musical, to do what’s in their hearts. I don’t have anything but a cheerleader brain for young people. I understand how evolution works, how this business works, how it’s always worked. And that’s the way it’s supposed to happen.”
And although Vince isn’t a fan of the “bro-country” phenomenon, he thinks there’s something truly special about the guys behind it, and he doesn’t blame them for the popularity of the stereotyped music.
I don’t think it does anybody any good to bash anything that is going on. That doesn’t serve much of a purpose. I had a visit with an executive who runs a record company. He was bemoaning yadda yadda, and I looked at him and said, “Don’t you get it? It’s your fault.” He said, “What do you mean?” “Everything you’re saying you don’t like, you’re signing, you’re recording. Just do your part.” If you don’t like it, quit jumping on the apple cart because you think it will work.
But you know what I do like about that generation? How much they like each other. How much camaraderie they have. My generation didn’t have it. Their compatibility, their willingness to embrace each other, be friends, all of that stuff. They’re very inclusive of all things and everything. And I admire the hell out of that. I wish my generation had more of that. But of the people who were really knocking it out of the park, it didn’t. If you want to take that core of artists throughout the Eighties and Nineties, do I go pal around with Garth or Alan or George? No. But the generation before me, Jimmy Dickens was going fishing with Porter Wagoner, and Mel Tillis was taking so and so… They had that.
You can read more from Vince on RollingStone Country including his take on the viral video of him confronting Westboro Church protestors here.