If there is one thing that Howard Stern has been consistent about over his decades-long career, it is his hatred of country music. He has also said that the cowboy hat was a racist symbol, akin to a KKK hat. So, I was jolted to hear him singing the praises of Chris Stapleton and his Traveler album recently.
Stern’s praise was not delivered as a commercial, but as seemingly natural conversation on the show. As if Stern genuinely admired Stapleton. However, it was poorly executed. The last comment I heard from him was: “I hate country music, except for that guy with the beard. What was his name again?” So, how much of a fan could he really be?
On top of that, Stern’s shilling began right after Stapleton’s appearance on Saturday Night Live, not exactly a bastion of country culture either. I would bet that both shows were paid to feature Stapleton, because while Stapleton is certainly credentialed, Traveler is a HORRIBLE album. And I would also bet that the Country Music Awards are bought-and-paid-for since they gave Traveler the “Album of the Year” award for 2015.
Let me be clear, Traveler is only suitable for one purpose: a torture device at Gitmo.
Okay, track 6 “Nobody to Blame” is a hit, and I have it on my iPod. And track 13 “Outlaw State of Mind” has some good parts. But, funny thing, if you look at the credits, you will see that Stapleton had help with those tracks from Barry Bales and Jerry Salley.
I had never heard of Stapleton before I saw Adam Driver introduce him on Saturday Night Live as if he were Jesus. And while he is clearly a talented performer, judging by Traveler alone, I suspect that his song-writing ability is a carefully constructed myth. However, to be fair to Stapleton, there may be a Yoko Effect going on since his wife chose all the songs on the album, probably after fishing them out of Stapleton’s trash can. See the story here.
Nevertheless, if Howard Stern were going to get country-music religion, it wouldn’t be inspired by an atrocity such as Traveler. My guess is that Stern, and anybody else on the show who mentions Stapleton, gets a cash bonus. Maybe $5000 for Stern, and $1000 for everybody else. Even Fred was praising Stapleton.
Back before the internet, I got fed up with buying albums from name-brand musicians that had one good song and eleven duds. So, I decided to not buy any album that didn’t get a top rating from Rolling Stone magazine. I picked up an issue, and they gave the new Van Halen album a perfect score. I was already a Van Halen fan, so I bought it – and it sucked. I think it was one that Eddie did after drying out. Terrible, terrible noise.
You would think that with the internet, we could get away from the perpetration of terrible music. But no; nothing has changed. Remember how Stern used to brag about how “honest” he was? Well, when it comes to music reviews (and probably movies and TV too) he is as bought-and-paid-for as Rolling Stone. (How does that rag even exist anymore?)
Stern’s hours-long interview with Carol Burnett back in September was probably also a paid product-placement for her CD. Why else would he have her on? The twelve-year old boys who comprise the bulk of his audience have no idea who she is.
Don’t get me started on the decline of the Stern show. Suffice it to say that large swathes of it are now probably product-placements.
Note: Track 13 on Traveler, “Outlaw State of Mind” can be fixed by cutting off the last 2:36. I also cut off what I imagine to be the “Stapleton parts” in the first half of the track: the first 58 seconds, then kept the next 17 seconds, cut the next 48, etc. If you do that, what remains is pretty good rockin’ tune 1:08 long. I have never edited a track like this before, but felt compelled to do so in compensation for the suffering that I had to endure to write this post. I listened to every track on Traveler twenty-five times just to make sure that it wasn’t the kind of music that has to grow on you. It isn’t. I hope you appreciate the sacrifice that I made on your behalf.
WARNING: Do not listen to Traveler. It will leave a black mark on your soul that will never come off. This is not a joke. Say a prayer for the DJ’s whose job it is to sift through this crap and find the good music for us.