Americana Honors Prince

Dixie Chicks - 'Nothing Compares 2 U'

“A strong spirit transcends rules.” Prince

Prince not only appeared to transcended mortality he transcended genre. So it’s not surprising that songwriters and musicians across styles took his sudden death as a call to perform reverent Prince covers to fill the void.

Roots music is no different. Though his music superficially differed from Americana and country music they saw in Prince a prolific songwriters and accomplished musician who’s entire being was defined by his art. Prince created music just as readily as the music created him. They were indistinguishable from each other.

Below I’ve collected a few live tributes in the aftermath as well as Cory Branan and Lydia Loveless superb Record Store Day 2015 purple vinyl split 7″. All are wonderful and you can feel the bittersweet joy in remembrance.

Also a video of Prince doing a Stones classic, because it’s awesome.

Bruce Springsteen – ‘Purple Rain’ – Multicam mix – Brooklyn – New York –

Chris Stapleton – ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ – Greek Theater, Berkeley, CA –

The Dixie Chicks – ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ – Horsens Denmark –

Avett Brothers “Pretty Girl From Annapolis w/ When Doves Cry Interlude” Chicago Theatre –

Mumford & Sons – ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ – St. Paul, MN –

Old Crow Medicine Show w/ Margo Price – Purple Rain – Huntsville, AL –

Cory Branan – “Under the Cherry Moon” –

Lydia Loveless – “I Would Die 4 U” –

Prince – “Honky Tonk Woman” –

New Music Horizons

It’s no secret that the music industry and undergoing a transmutation of seismic proportions. Illegal downloading, labels suing fans, online radio…this is not your daddy’s Peaches Record store.

The always excellent Chet Flippo over at takes a look at the industry through the actions of the purple provocateur Prince and his recent giveaway of his latest CD, Planet Earth, that came bundled free with UK Sunday newspaper The Mail.

Prince’s bread and butter this far into his career is concert tickets, and instead of wasting time, effort and money trying to woo listeners to his new work he uses the music as a means to a promotional end, Prince gives away his latest CD, his Label, , Sony BMG, throws a hissy and refuses to distribute the CD in the UK, the press covers both events and Prince pockets a cool $500,000 from The Mail.

Technology has changed the rules of distribution and consumer behavior and the best the labels could do was to sue the fans and alienate them further. Brilliant! It took a technology company to do what the labels couldn’t stop squabbling long enough to do, make significant cash. It took Steve Jobs to kick their ass, bring them together and show them the future all while taking his cut and selling jillions of iPods.

The Opry entertained everyone within their frequency range on the radio, the Beatles brought their media of the time to bear in getting their music, and their personalities, out by doing Hard Days Night. and Porter Wagoner was using T.V. to get his music, and his Nudie suits, on screens all across America. Past artists looked for new opportunities and they, or their managers, capitalized on them.

Chet’s colleague Patrick Goldstein saw the future and became a casualty when he dared use old media (the newspaper) to advocate for new media business models in conjunction with musical artists willing to offer their music that would then share in advertising revenue.

Artists have to be paid for their work. I do believe that. But I also believe that the rules have changed and income streams and earning potential come from different and untaped places. The field is wide open for those artists willing to look at their world in innovative ways.