Alt-country hero Dale Watson has a tune called "Nashville Rash," in which he bemoans the pop crossover changes in Music City and sings "I'm too country now for country, just like Johnny Cash / Help me, Merle, I'm breakin' out in a Nashville rash." The condition has begun to afflict artists associated with the "New Traditionalist" movement of the late '80s who, ironically, rescued country music from the leisure-suited "urban cowboy" pop-country of the day, reintroducing honky-tonk laments drenched in high-lonesome pedal steel and twin fiddles to country radio. Twenty-two years after his remarkable self-titled debut album helped change the face of popular country music, Clint Black has come down with the Nashville Rash — he's too country for today's pop-country sheen. Black had his last Top 10 country hit in 2000 and his last album, the terrific Drinking Songs & Other Logic, barely buzzed the Top 40 country album charts in 2006. Does this mean Black has lost his touch as an artist? Au contraire. It just means that he's never compromised his hard-country roots or sold out to the new pop/country wave. And while the country artists Black helped pave the way for two decades ago play their brand of arena country in stadiums these days, Black plays now smaller spots like the Celebrity Theatre, which is better suited for his down-home Texas honky-tonkin' anyway.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.