Sturgill Simpson just picked a fight with Nashville and the machinery behind the country music biz.
Only minutes before the Academy of Country Music officially unveiled Miranda Lambert as the recipient of the new Merle Haggard Spirit Award, a fired-up Simpson posted an essay in which he blasted ACM, Music Row, Garden and Gun magazine, and anyone who let down and continues to exploit Haggard, who passed away April 6.
The crossover country artist got to “venting about the unjust treatment of a bonafide American music legend”– his words — in an open-letter which clocks in at more than 1,100 words.
In it, he hammered Garden and Gun and its editor for time-wasting and blowing an opportunity to feature Haggard and himself on its cover (Chris Stapleton — a “class act” — was dropped in as the Country Music issue’s cover star).
And he dropped the knee into the Academy and those in the mainstream country music establishment who contributed to the Hag feeling “forgotten and tossed aside.”
“I’m writing this because I want to go on record and say I find it utterly disgusting the way everybody on Music Row is coming up with any reason they can to hitch their wagon to his name while knowing full and damn well what he thought about them,” he wrote.
“If the ACM wants to actually celebrate the legacy and music of Merle Haggard,” he added, “they should drop all the formulaic cannon fodder bullshit 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 bullshit and start dedicating their programs to more actual Country Music.”
Some days, he confessed, “this town and this industry have a way of making we wish I could just go sit on Mars and build glass clocks.”
Lambert, who Simpson has no issue with, will be presented tonight (Aug. 30) at the 10th annual ACM Honors with an award named in Haggard’s honor. Don’t expect Simpson to sit through the ceremony. And he definitely won’t be around for the 50th annual CMA Awards, should he be nominated (he’s booked for a sold-out show in Des Moines, Iowa on the night of Nov. 2 and has “no plans to change that”).
“I fully realize that as I type this, meetings and conversations are taking place on Music Row to ensure I am blackballed from the industry and that’s perfectly fine with me,” he wrote. “I’m not sure how you can blackball somebody you don’t acknowledge in the first place anyway.”
The country singer paraphrased the Hag as he sounded off: “Fuck this town. I’m moving.”
The targets of Simpson’s rant have yet to respond. Read his essay below.