What You're Not Listening To

What You're Not Listening To

Sturgill Simpson and Why Country Radio Hates Him

July 22, 2019

Sturgill Simpson is quite literally one of the hottest new acts in any genre of music going today. Born in rural Kentucky, he is son of a police officer and a secretary. He struggled through school before enlisting in the Navy. He loved music from an early age, starting off with Country, then delving into classic Rock, classic 1960’s Soul and R&B and then Americana and the Blues. He also is a huge fan of many of today’s most popular Hip-Hop artists.

Simpson is also 41 years old, a getting a very late start in a business that is focused on youth. He worked a series of odd jobs around the country, in places like Nashville, Seattle and Salt Lake City, attempting to figure out what he was going to do with his life. It was at the latter city that he met his future wife. She bought him a four-track recorder, and then he toured with a band called Sunday Valley. Simpson went solo after the release of their one, now out-of-print record, To The Wind and On To Heaven.

“I’ve surmised that there are only two kinds of music: bad music and soul music.” Sturgill Simpson to Rolling Stone magazine, 2017

He recorded his first two records in literally a week a piece with a budget less than what a new automobile costs to purchase. By the time of his second album, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, the big city music press took notice, winning accolades from publications like Rolling Stone and the New York Times. His third LP, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, written for his newborn son, and not only hit the top of the Country charts, but made the Top 5 of the Billboard Top 200 LP’s chart and was nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards in 2017. (He did win the trophy that year for Best Country Album.)

His has become infamous of late in Country music circles for a 1,000 word Facebook post, criticizing the Academy of Country Music after it announced the “Merle Haggard Spirit Award.” An excerpt: “If the ACM wants to actually celebrate the legacy and music of Merle Haggard, they should drop all the formulaic cannon-fodder BS* they’ve been pumping down rural America’s throat for the last 30 years along with all the high school pageantry, meat parade award show BS*, and start dedicating their programs to more actual country music.”

*Full text of this word was used in Simpson’s original post.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA: Singer Sturgill Simpson performs onstage during the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass music festival at Golden Gate Park on October 7, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)

At the Country Music Awards last year, even with his massive crossover success, he was not invited in. He ended up being the most talked about performer at the program, however, as he busked for change outside of the venue, criticizing the Trump administration and accepting requests on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union.

And some still people believe that having a family, being successful, being a Country artist, being from a rural town and getting older mean that for some reason you must become more conservative. It is expected that Sturgill’s latest album will drop sometime very soon. Until then, this is your opportunity to play a little catch up.

First Part

1. Turtles All The Way Down, 2014, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music2. You Can Have The Crow/ Some Days (live), 2013, live performance at Sun King Brewery3. Oh Sarah, 2011, To The Wind and On To Heaven (Sunday Valley)4. Memories of You and I (live), 2017, Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings5. All Around You, 2016, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth6. Sitting Here Without You, 2013, High Top Mountain7. Breakers Roar, 2016,