Lonesome Onry and Mean

Lonesome Onry and Mean: Songwriting Scholar Steve Young Blasts Nashville's "Yuppa-billys"

For Lonesome, Onry and Mean, they don't come much taller or wiser than Steve Young. Young has been in a love/hate relationship with Nashville and the major labels since he came to town in the early Seventies. Along with Billy Joe Shaver, Young wrote the major anthems of the Outlaw movement that tipped Nashville onto its ear for a while. He was playing a show with Van Dyke Parks in Santa Barbara, Calif., last week when we got his take on the Nashville Scene poll and country music today.

"So-called modern country music simply sucks," he said. "No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Why? Because it has no roots, no soul. Without soul and roots, music is nada. Dead. I call the current crop yuppa-billys. The problem with this country music is the consciousness it comes from, if you can call it that. The problem is it has Glenn Beck stamped all over it.

"When I was young I took the country singers of the day for granted a lot of the time because I assumed someone like them would always be around," Young, who wrote Waylon Jennings' "Lonesome, Onry and Mean" and the Eagles' "Seven Bridges Road" (among many others) added. "Singers like Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Hank Snow, etc. And then there was the wonder of Sun Records with R&B and Elvis and Jerry Lee and so on.

"At least we still have Merle Haggard. Of course, he is not played on country radio. These giants of old were replaced by plastic emptiness. It's just the way the world is now. The emperor definitely has no clothes.

"It sucks, but those who are strong can go on anyway. All I can say is: God bless the Dixie Chicks."

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William Michael Smith