New Heathens

Who’s ‘Yer Daddy?

(Shooter puts the "W" in "Who's 'Yer Daddy?")

Oh mercy, I didn’t want to ever use this blog to take people down but it finally happened.

I got this months’ issue of American Songwriter in the mail today and there in the reviews section were three and a half stars for The Best of Shooter Jennings.

Wait a minute. How can Shooter put out a "Best Of" album? He put out his first album in 2005 and since then has released only two other studio records and a live album. Is this enough to cull material for a greatest hits album?

And because he took it there, now we’re gonna’ have to take a hard look at this so-called “career” of Shooters’.

I admit that I fell in love with his first single, the bona-fide hit “4th of July.” Around that time I caught a free show he did at CBGB. His mom, Jessi Colter, came out and sang with him. Brandy Wood, who I hadn’t yet met but would go on to play with, was in the audience. The show was brilliant. Shooter rocked.

About a year later I saw him again at Irving Plaza. This was where I noticed how many times he name-checked his father, such as in "Let's Put The O Back in Country" when he sings he'd like to hear "a whole lotta' Waylon." Many of Shooters other tunes, like “Busted in Baylor County” and “Little White Lines” were poorly written attempts to sound tough by singing about problems with drugs and cops. Shooter then tried to convince us he’s an outlaw by mixing hard rock AND country. He inserted a metal riff into the middle of “Ain’t Livin’ Long Like This,” which might have been cool, except his dad made that song famous. So the only statement Shooter made was "I don't have anything of my own to offer you, so I'll just dress up my dad's stuff in rock clothes and re-serve it."

Were we supposed to think he’s a badass because he likes white powder and Guns ‘N’ Roses and has a famous rock 'n' roll dad? Didn’t Kelly Osbourne already do this?

The last time I saw Shooter sealed it. He came down to play a Waylon Jennings tribute at the Living Room in early 2008. His TV star wife Drea De Matteo was there. So was her posse. Shooter took the stage by himself to play three of his dad’s greatest hits.

And he couldn’t remember the chords OR the words.

It was embarrassing, but more so it was insulting. Here’s a kid who rode the dad train to moneytown, and he didn’t even respect the material enough to know it. Even though it made his dad, and by extension him, famous.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve blown PLENTY of chords and lyrics. But I’m not famous. And my dad sure as hell ain’t a famous musician.

I respect a kid like Justin Townes Earle. Kid’s dad, Steve Earle, is a great songwriter, and kid’s middle name comes from one of the greatest songwriters, Townes Van Zandt.

I ain’t never heard Justin sing a Steve Earle song or a Townes Van Zandt song.

Justin’s worked hard to hone great songs of his own, and he's outdone his dad a time or two. Justin did so, in part, by doing his research and his woodshedding, digging deep down into roots American music, like ragtime.

I was happy to see Justin got the interview on the last page of the magazine, nine pages behind Shooter’s review.

Somebody like Justin I could look forward to a greatest hits record from. Because as a music fan, I care more about the "great" than I do about the "hit."

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