Miley Cyrus Digs Gretchen Peters, Much To Our Joy (And Chagrin)
Sometime in the wee hours Monday morning, Miley Cyrus tweeted to her 5,179,817 followers about The Matador, a song from Gretchen Peters’s new record, Hello Cruel World: “Wow. The Matador by Gretchen Peters blows me away. She was touched by GOD. Her voice and soul is pure light.”
A few minutes later, Ms. Cyrus adds this : “Looking up @ the stars w/ Gretchen Peters on. What a soul. Her love & pain inspires me to be a better song writer. Glory thru my headphones.”
Miley Cyrus is right, of course. Hello Cruel World is a great record, probably the finest of Ms. Peters’s career. And her endorsement is valuable. With almost 5.2 million followers, those two tweets (not to mention the multiple retweets, replies, discussion about the tweets) mean a lot.
If you have any doubt about the value of a Twitter endorsement, ask The Civil Wars about the Taylor Swift tweets. So good on you, Gretchen Peters. You deserve it. We’re proud for you.
By the way, in case you haven’t heard it, here’s a video of Gretchen Peters and husband Barry Walsh doing The Matador, courtesy of Music Fog:
Still, as good as it was, the Miley Cyrus endorsement was vaguely unsettling for some in the Americana music crowd. We know what’s good (oh, just ask us, and we’ll tell you), and we like the fact that everybody doesn’t dig our music like we do. It makes us feel smarter and more exclusive when we have to give our friends a 15-minute explanation about who we’re going to see at some out-of-the-way bar while everybody else is going to see Kenny Chesney in a stadium.
This whole thing may go even farther than just digging semi-obscurity in our musicians. A lot of us are a bit suspicious of the trappings of music stardom. While we wish every success for the artists we like, we really want them touring in a van rather than a bus. And under no circumstances should they have a bunch of roadies and certainly not a semi hauling their stage gear (we make exceptions to this rule for Willie and Alison Krauss – Emmylou gets a bus but no semis). We really like to see the van with that trailer behind it. As Jim Lauderdale would say, “That’s Americana!”
Not to put too fine a point on it, but some of us in the Americana world feel like we know better than the general public what’s good, and we’re not exactly sure that we need some child superstar telling 5 million people about Americana because that might somehow ruin it all. So back to the tweets. When they came across the Twitterstream yesterday, we knew what we were supposed to do. Most of us tried to like the fact that Miley discovered Gretchen, that Miley digs Gretchen. We overlooked the subject-verb disagreement in her tweets. A lot of us retweeted her. Some us even tried to say the right thing. But when we did, it sometimes came out as slightly sarcastic. Kevin McClave of Syracuse tweeted this in reaction to Ms. Cyrus’s tweets: “Very cool that it isn’t just us…distinguished folks who love it.” I, unfortunately, was a little less subtle, a bit more the smartass. “The @MileyCyrus love for @gretchenpeters excellent new record warms my Achy Breaky Heart.”
I’m not sure what to do with any of this. As I type, I’m not really feeling all that repentant. Of course I want all Americana artists to do well. The truth is that even with Miley Cyrus tweeting about them, the folks I really love aren’t likely to become mainstream superstars. Most of them probably wouldn’t want that anyway. Maybe Ms. Peters will sell a few more records, have more folks at her shows. That would be good. Maybe Miley will record one of her songs. Or ask her to open a few shows. That wouldn’t be bad at all. We want good things for Gretchen Peters. As long as she doesn’t get a tour bus. We can’t have that.
Mando Lines is on Twitter @mando_lines. Gretchen Peters is, too @GretchenPeters. You can read Mando Lines review of Hello Cruel World here.