The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Country music singer and Flatwoods native Billy Ray Cyrus is writing a memoir that will be published by Amazon Publishing in the spring of 2013.
Hillbilly Heart will reportedly detail Cyrus’ early years in Eastern Kentucky, his fame thanks to his first album and hit single Achy Breaky Heart and the challenges of raising his daughter, teen star Miley Cyrus.
“I learned early from the Book of Psalms that: ‘The truth will be your shield and your buckle.’ I’ve always loved that,” Cyrus said in a news release from Amazon. “You only get one chance to tell your life story. This is my chance to set the record straight. I realized that over the years that there have been untruths and misconceptions about me, my music, my life, my family and our dreams. I’m going to lay out the facts starting from August 25, 1961 (his birthday), and work my way to the present, even if it stings a little.”
It is fashionable to pick on Lana Del Rey. I am not a very fashionable guy.
When I downloaded her new album, Born to Die, I knew a bit about her background and of course had caught her now infamous Saturday Night Live appearance – the one NBC News anchor and music blogger Brian Williams called, “one of the worst outings in SNL history.” Kanye West and Ashlee Simpson set a pretty high hurdle for that accusation, but her performance didn’t hold my attention that night. Maybe it was the bourbon.
But the other day, when I hit play on that download in my car, I was transfixed.
It seems appropriate that Del Rey sits next to Lady Gaga on my player’s artist list, because while she doesn’t sound anything like LaGaga, she is trying to create a mood, a persona. It’s a contrast between big, dramatic classic sounds and lyrics that are very 21st Century, sometimes teenage. It’s like she’s trying to have mid-century Hollywood glamour in the context of 2012.
Occasionally she pushes the mood a bit too hard, like on Summertime Sadness. But when it works, it is a rapturous sonic escape like Video Game in which Del Ray sings about an old school-style romance but the keeps dropping in a somewhat jarring line about the guy wanting to play a video game. She peppers other dichotomies like that through the album, but never breaks the lush production and never, unlike that SNL turn, loses our interest.
The lingering question after a few listens to Born to Die is where will Lana Del Rey take her music from here? And when you release your first major label album, that’s a good thing to have people wondering.
Frankly, I have no idea what people are complaining about. Maybe Del Rey is better if you don’t Google her before you listen to the album.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich