Church’s song was about the need for a savior to change what is wrong with country music. Clearly, this is a belief I share with him, as is clear from the other posts I’ve made. Church professes that we need “some long haired hippie prophet preachin’ from the book of Johnny Cash.”
Allan is far from being an “alternative” country singer. He’s relatively mainstream, and while his hits are somewhat sporadic, most country fans, even those who are only familiar with the mainstream artists, would probably know who he is. He has a loyal fanbase, nine studio albums and nearly two decades in the business. And, with George Strait retiring from touring, Gary Allan is arguably in the top three most traditional sounding country singers in the mainstream today (Alan Jackson and Josh Turner would also fall in that list).
But perhaps Eric Church is looking in a much too short-sighted manner. While Church sings that “There’ll be fire on a mountain there’ll be revival and bangin’ drums, there’ll be screamin’ and there’ll be shoutin’ when my country music Jesus comes.”
While many of us would hope that overnight, country music would be like it used to be, the pop influence would wane, the rap crossovers would disappear, and it would stop being flat-out rock music. But, keep in mind, Jesus’ influence in his own era took a long time to spread. He had his loyal followers, but they were also a group drowned out by the majority who sought to preserve the status quo.
But by in the large, Gary Allan fits what Eric Church is looking for (sure, maybe not the physical characteristics of being long-haired, but still). Of all the country singers there are today, I can’t think of any more comparable to Johnny Cash than Gary Allan. He has that same raspy voice, that same rawness and authenticity. Many of the songs Allan sings are even songs I could easily imagine Cash singing if he were still alive. Add to that that they both share the ability to take a song made by an artist completely outside the country genre, and remake it, and make it sound authentically country—Johnny Cash did it with Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt,” and Gary Allan did it with Vertical Horizon’s “Best I Ever Had.”
It would have been a marvel to have heard Allan and Cash do a song together.
In an interview with Larry King, even, Allan criticized the current direction of mainstream country music, saying, “You used to be able to turn on the radio and you knew instantly it was the country station just by listening to it, and now you’ve got to leave it there for a second to figure it out.”
Maybe the masses aren’t ready to fully listen. But his loyal fans are. And we’ll continue to support and recognize his contributions to real true country music.