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Taylor Swift Wins The Pinnacle Award At The 2013 CMA

Taylor hits the Pinnacle at the start of her trip

The first time I saw Brad Paisley he was opening for Loretta Lynn and his debut album hadn’t been released yet. The Town Hall was sold out and none of us had seen Loretta in person for decades. To say emotions were running high is an understatement (when Loretta showed up she asked for requests, I screamed “Fist City”, she said, “Oh, it’s one of those audiences” and we took it from there) and to say nobody wanted to see this wet behind the ears country boy is also an understatement. With a brace of ace songs and a huge amount of good will, he won us over fan by fan and got a standing O at the end.

“I got a call from Brad Paisley and I toured with him for nine months and I sat on a speaker by the stage and watched him.” That’s Taylor Swift accepting the Pinnacle Award, for taking country music to a worldwide audience. The only other winner was Garth Brooks in 2005. But the comment points to something absolutely central to Taylor, who skill on stage and her professionalism comes from hard work and learning from her peers.

To present Taylor with the award was a who’s who of modern country stars, including Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Keith Urban, George Strait, Rascal Flatts -all of whim she had opened for in the past and all of whom she has learnt for. It is not quite a surprise that Country Music embraced her as a favorite daughter, even if, really, only her debut album is pure country. Red is a pop rock album with EDM production values. It’s not that the songs can’t be performed country, certainly the excellent version of “Red” she performed here with to my mind country’s best singer since Jones is now dead, Vince Gill, singing back up, but it is not what Taylor. The problem with Taylor’s contemporaries, with the Katy Perrys and Lady Gagas, and even music producers from Dr. Luke to the Weeknd, is that while  the music may sound great and everybody can write a hook in 2013, the songs are the weak spot. And that’s where Taylor excells, even by country music’s standards the woman can write a song, by modern pop standards she is a genius.

Still, it was a pleasure to see Taylor, who has been tributed before, tributed again. On a reel before the actual presenting of the award everybody from Mick Jagger to Julia Roberts gave her a shout out.

I’ll agree that sales talk and when you have sold 26 MILLION records before you’re 25, that’s gonna get the country establishments attention. However, when Neil Young is telling you how much he loves your music, hell, when I AM TELLING YOU HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU’RE MUSIC, the main reason, a huge reason, a central reason is because you, Taylor, is one of the greatest songwriters of her generation.

 

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