(NASHVILLE SKYLINE is a column by CMT/CMT.com Editorial Director Chet Flippo.)
During this long Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I would like to reflect on a few musical blessings from this year for which we may be grateful. I personally am thankful for the following (and many others that I will think of later and regret not including):
• Carrie Underwood, for leading country’s charge into the greater world. With her image and performances and her sales power, there’s no wonder she led country music’s first-ever week to debut three country albums at the top of the Billboard 200 chart. Her Carnival Ride was followed by Robert Plant-Alison Krauss’ Raising Sand and Gary Allan’s Living Hard.
• Alison Krauss and Robert Plant for the risk-taking collaboration on Raising Sand, which turned out to be a marvelous musical partnership. It expands country’s horizons in ways that many never imagined before.
• Taylor Swift, for showing that country music can be young and fun, without being frivolous. And here’s to country’s many other fresh, new female faces including Ashton Shepherd, Ashley Monroe, Sarah Buxton, Sarah Johns, Rissi Palmer, Sunny Sweeney, Miko Marks and others I’ll remember later.
• Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, for continuing on their musical odyssey, while gracefully sidestepping obvious snubs, slings and arrows.
• Porter Wagoner and Hank Thompson, for long years of devoted service to country music. And for all their great music and even the not-so-great music. They cared.
• Dwight Yoakam, for rejuvenating the musical legacy of a great old-timer, Buck Owens, and helping preserve a wing of country music that should live forever.
• Sugarland. Has anyone else converted more non-country fans this year than they have?
• Little Big Town, for continuing to make fresh, exciting music that unites country’s and rock’s past, present and future.
• The Johnny Cash TV Show DVDs released thus far. These clips from television’s best music show ever spotlight classic performances of artists ranging from Bob Dylan to Waylon Jennings to Ray Charles to Neil Young to Stevie Wonder.
• The DVDs of classic performances from The Flatt & Scruggs TV Show. And Nashville guru Cowboy Jack Clement’s wonderfully goofy and exuberant DVD Shakespeare Was a Big George Jones Fan.
• Eagles, for ruffling the right industry feathers and for demonstrating that there are alternative ways of getting music to the public.
• Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Ray Price for demonstrating that great artists can make meaningful music for as long as they want to and they are able to.
• Vince Gill, for taking a long shot and recording an adventuresome and significant boxed set of new work that does Nashville and country music proud.
• George Strait, for finding and recording great music yet again.