Last week a guy named Aaron Watson became the first independent male artist to have a #1 record on the Billboard Country Music charts. If you haven’t heard of him, you aren’t alone. I listen to a lot of country radio on my daily 50 mile commute, and I have yet to hear one of Aaron’s songs there. Despite the obvious approval of the listening public, Nashville apparently still isn’t interested in Watson who’s latest album is aptly titled “The Underdog”. I suppose they have a bad taste in their mouth after he made it this far without them. Thankfully, I also listen to a lot of Pandora radio where my Red Dirt/Texas Country stations play plenty of Aaron’s songs.
I’ll admit I hadn’t purchased this new album until it hit number one, but I was a fan of Aaron’s previous work. He’s not exactly new at this – this is his 12th studio album. After downloading The Underdog, though, all I can say is: wow – I forgot how good country music could be. Besides being a talented singer and songwriter, one of my favorite things about Aaron Watson has always been that he appears to really have his priorities straight. If you like good music, family values and Christian faith, he is a great Instagram/Facebook follow. Sunday afternoon, after the biggest week in his career, Aaron shared this: Some friends in agriculture with similar musical taste suggested blogging to help promote this album. The idea interested me, so I started thinking. The 2% of the population involved in agriculture is clearly an underdog – we’re small in numbers and often living in rural areas far from urban consumers. The stories about us in the media are frequently less than favorable, and while we log a lot of hours trying to do things the right way, at the end of the day, often the public is critical. It’s tough to stomach people telling us how to do our jobs, especially when they are unfamiliar with the work we’re doing. I think Aaron can relate – in the final track on the album, he recalls the Nashville executive who trashed his musical dreams: “But I do have a problem with someone who can’t even play a “D” chord on a guitar telling someone with a dream that they won’t get far.”
I know we personally put a significant amount of thought into everything we do and how it will affect our cows. Just because someone doesn’t understand the reasons we do something, doesn’t mean we’re doing it wrong, but something’s gotta give. Our consumers opinions matter, but I believe the public is critical, not because we’re doing it wrong, but because we’re not telling them what we’re doing and why we’re doing it this way. Like Aaron Watson, we need to keep doing it our way – we need to put in the work and do things the right way, always working to improve. We shouldn’t necessarily change our methods because it’s more appealing to an uninformed public, but we should keep trying to innovate to do things that are better for our cows, for our environment, for our products, our industry, and our customers. Instead of shutting out our critics, we need to invite them in to have a listen – to hear our stories and have a discussion.
If you, too, are tired of the pop songs Nashville keeps pushing out to country radio, and you long for the days when George was King, may I suggest The Underdog, Aaron Watson. And if you want to hear the story of agriculture from those who have dedicated their lives to doing the work, who want to be part of the conversation, and who also have great taste in music, may I suggest the blogs below.