Sturgill Simpson lashed out at the Academy of Country Music on Monday (8/29/16) because of the organization’s Merle Haggard Award, which is given to country artists who show “the uncompromising integrity and steadfastness of spirit embodied by the late Merle Haggard.”
This led the country music singer-songwriter to post on Facebook:
“In the last chapter of his career and his life, Nashville wouldn’t call, play, or touch (Haggard). He felt forgotten and tossed aside. I always got a sense that he wanted one last hit … one last proper victory lap of his own, and we all know deserved it. Yet it never came. And now he’s gone.
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. If the ACM wants to actually celebrate the legacy and music of Merle Haggard, they should … start dedicating their programs to more actual Country Music.”
By the afternoon, the post garnered more than 17,000 “Likes” and had been shared more than 7,000 times, according to The Tennessean.
And then Simpson clarified his statement. On Monday night, he wrote on Facebook that his first post was not a direct statement about Miranda Lambert, the recipient of the Merle Haggard Spirit Award.
“I called the ACM out directly because they are simply the latest in a long line of organizations that have done the same since Merle’s death…,” Simpson said. “Showing homage and handing lifetime achievement awards to the greats of yesterday while claiming to uphold and hold dear the original values and integrity of country music’s legacy. Yet these are just hollow words…One needs only to look glancingly at the majority of the music that they, along with the CMAs, predominantly choose to recognize and promote at their award shows.”
He then stood up for the less-acknowledged country artists.
“Even though (members of the contemporary country music industry) mostly go out of their way to ignore artists like myself and Jason Isbell, I assure you they are more than aware of our existence,” he wrote. “They are also well aware that we don’t need them. Our last albums went to #1 without any help from the Mainstream Country Music establishment…and our next albums will too.”
He ended the post with a sharp few words: “F**k this town. I’m moving.”
The ACM did not want to comment on this, reports The Tennesean, but the ACM did publish a Facebook post that Monday night.
“We are honored to continue our long tradition of spotlighting innovators to the country music genre with the inaugural Merle Haggard Spirit Award,” they wrote, “established in his honor to pay tribute to a pioneer integral in the Academy’s history and West Coast roots.”
The Academy also included a link to a 2013 interview they conducted with Haggard before he accepted the ACM Crystal Milestone Award.