Chet Flippo, Ft. Worth native, famed journalist, author and editor, Vietnam war vet and University of Texas alum, died this morning. He was 69. No cause of death has not been disclosed.
it might have been a partial result of losing his wife, Martha Hume, herself a celibrated music journalist and author, who died on December 17, 2012.
In a world where it’s often hard to tell where music journalism ends and where PR begins Flippo was the classic example of the fan as critic.
While teaching journalism as the University of Tennessee in Knoxville he received an offer from Billboard to be their bureau chief in their Nashville office. In 2001 he joined CMT and started an online column, “Nashville Skyline.” it’s here that Flippo would champion the famous, like the Dixie Chicks and Garth Brooks, and Americana upstarts like Ryan Adams and Lucinda Williams. He had cover country music so long he felt the genre shift sharply beneath his feet. He then had the courage to call out the country music industry he felt was ruining the legacy and the music he held so dear.
Flippo was there when Willie and Waylon brought the rednecks and the hippies together in Austin. He penned the liner notes for Wanted: The Outlaws, the first platinum-selling album in country music and Willie Nelson’s thematic masterpiece Red Headed Stranger.
Saving Country Music advocates that the Country Music Hall inc=duct Flippo into it’s ranks in it’s non-performer category. I concur. A voice like his, learned and celebratory , come along only once in a great while. Those rare instances should be honored while on this earth and after they’ve left it.
Chet Flippo at CMT’s Nashville Skyline takes to task “magazine writers, bloggers and professors” who dare to broadly or narrowly define what “Real Country Music” is. Since I am one of these offenders that have tilted at the country music bona fides windmills on many occasions, hell it’s threason this blog exists at all, I have come to define real country music in the way that Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart was asked to define porn – “I know it when I see it.”
Which alt.country legend worked in the mailroom at Rolling Stone magazine in New York? Who’s father and stepfather are both in the Country Music Hall of Fame? If you know the answers to these questions and want to tackle more like them the always entertaining Chet Flippo has a challenging country music quiz over at CMT.com.
I got about 70% right. Not surprisingly I got all Garth related questions wrong.
the risk of being not only a Chet Flippo (CMTs Nashville Skyline) fanboy but one for Ms. “crazy chick” Miranda Lambert as well. Chet’s latest post (thanks 9513) on Miranda’s rise to stardom on her own terms and some of the cool things she’s done that lends her more cred than most of her other Music City counterparts:
She learned a valuable lesson in songwriting with her first album. The title song, “Kerosene” — which really put her on the musical map — sounded very much like Steve Earle’s “I Feel Alright.” Very much like it. After that was brought to her attention, she added Earle’s name as her co-writer on the copyright. And on the royalties. She told Barry Mazor in a No Depression interview, “I didn’t purposefully plagiarize his song — but unconsciously I copied it almost exactly. I guess I’d listened to it so much that I just kind of had it in there.” Well, hell, outlaws rip each other off now and then. But then they usually own up about it — as she did — very quickly.
Cool, no? How many other Nashville Star and CMT alum would go out of their way to credit Earle (and share royalties with him) rather than dispatch a labels lawyers to pay him off? Class act! Miranda is making me proud of Texas in a way that Willie and the Chicks did.
Chet Flippo has written another insightful Nashville Skyline (yeah, I know how perilously close to a fan-boy I am at this point) on the burning of Johnny Cash’s lakeside home he shared with his wife June Carter-Cash.
The house had become a virtual shrine. There were tourists out there every day, but it never took on the atmosphere of Graceland. The visitors were respectful. It was a homing site for country music fans and country music stars alike. To the point that aspiring country music songwriter Kris Kristofferson once landed his helicopter on Cash’s lawn to hand him a song demo for “Sunday Morning Coming Down.” I’m sure you saw the house in the movie, Walk the Line, and in Cash’s music video for “Hurt.” The house was a central character in both and clearly possessed a character of its own.
It just begs the question that I’ve had about real estate vs history. The Ryman was almost torn down in the 80’s and Johnny’s house was put on the market, bought (By frikin Barry Gibb!) and put in a situation to be burned to the ground. Maybe Nashville could stop shoveling crap for a few moments and try and preserve it’s legacy. At least the parts that are within the Tennessee border.