It’s difficult to imagine why anyone would willingly skip the Country Music Association Awards. Even more difficult when one’s nominated for Album of the Year. But that is exactly what Jason Isbell is doing.
In an interview with Rolling Stone Country, Isbell said that missing the event wasn’t personal. He simply has other commitments that night with his band and didn’t want to cancel shows.
“We have a show that night in Germany,” he explains, referring to a Nov. 8 gig at Berlin’s Columbia Theater. “For me to come back for the awards show, I’d have to cancel three shows in Europe on people who’d already paid for a ticket, so I won’t be able to go.”
But that doesn’t mean it was what one would call a ringing endorsement. Though he said it was “flattering” to have his album, The Nashville Sound, nominated, he also noted, “[I]f I didn’t have a show that night, I’d go just for the spectacle of it.”
This isn’t the first time Isbell has made some rather pointed remarks about country music.
“Real bad music”
Isbell competes with some severe country contenders for this year’s Album of the Year. Miranda Lambert’s The Weight of These Wings is nominated, as are From A Room: Volume 1 by Stapleton, The Breaker by Little Big Town, and Heart Break by Lady Antebellum.
But that doesn’t mean he’s a fan. When he decided to sit out this year’s CMA Fest, he was candid with Rolling Stone Country about the fact that he doesn’t like modern country music.
“I don’t like that kind of music at all. Sometimes I’ll hear a song that I really like that’s in that world. I like that song ‘Girl Crush.’ Some of Miranda Lambert’s songs are really well-written. [Chris] Stapleton’s great. But most of that stuff is just real bad music to me.”
It’s not surprising then that the Alabama native remarked that he doesn’t see himself as a country singer. It does, however, make his album nomination remarkable. Also noticeably ironic.
Regardless of whether he wants to embrace country, it seems to embrace him. And certainly, his fans will appreciate that he chose them over an award.