I was having a random browse through YouTube yesterday. I was intrigued by the forthcoming Jason Isbell documentary (and album) and came across Sting doing “Every Breath You Take” with Vince Gill, who provided both vocals and one of his uplifting guitar solos.
And then there was this.
Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a country music tribute to Gary Rossington, late of Lynyrd Skynyrd, who died last month. One might wish they’d picked a song other than “Sweet Home Alabama”, but we’ll set that aside. And there was nothing wrong with the contributions of Slash, Billy Gibbons, and even Paul Rodgers.
But then there’s this Cody Johnson character, and (to an extent) Wynonna Judd and LeAnn Rimes (relegated to backing vocals, but hamming it up). Now, I know what’s happened. Cody Johnson is a little bit overexcited to be on the same stage as the Paul Rodgers, Slash, Billy Gibbons, et al., and (if he has any self awareness at all), probably cannot quite believe that fucking Wynonna is singing backup.
So he’s out there, this Cody, and he’s somehow part of this Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute, and he decides he’s going to sing the hell out of this thing. He’s going to emote and vocalise like he’s trying to shit out of both ends, and he is most definitely not going to be upstaged by the superstars.
And of course by doing that, he kinda ruins it. He is the problem. Instead of humility, he went for the other thing, and he Al Pacinoed his way to mediocrity. LOOK AT ME, MA.
There is a certain tendency with these kind of tributes for people to over-do it. Everyone wants to be the next Chris Stapleton/Justin Timberlake. It’s not just the Codys of this world. I remember a CMA awards a few years ago when a bunch of female vocalists all tried to out wail each other. It was grim.
No, the best approach is to be more like Vince Gill. Just come on, be your own quiet self, and then blow everyone away with your talent. Perhaps Cody didn’t have that to fall back on.