7:35 P.M. UPDATE: Sturgill Simpson has updated his earlier Facebook post, saying that he was not aware of Miranda Lambert’s reception of the ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award, and that he was not intending to slight the singer in any way.
He went on to say that the award, and who wins it, is detracting form his original point that mainstream country music has lost touch with its roots.
“I fully realize that as I type this, meetings and conversations are taking place on music [sic] Row to ensure I am blackballed from the industry and that’s perfectly fine with me,” Simpson wrote. “Im [sic] not sure how you can blackball somebody you don’t acknowledge in the first place anyway. Yet, even though they 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. They are also well aware that we don’t need them.”
Indeed, both his and Isbell’s last records have sold more than 200,000 copies combined with almost no radio support, and both were at No. 1 on the charts shortly after their release.
Sturgill won’t be at the ACMs this November, he wrote, because he has a sold-out show in Des Moines.
But he’s mostly concerned with how The Hag himself would’ve handled all of this.
“Mostly though, I just wish Merle was still alive. I’d love for them to all hear his thoughts on the matter. P.S. F— this town. I’m moving.”
The comments stemmed from a recent announcement that the Academy would institute a new “ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award,” to be given to “a singer-songwriter and performer whose career reflects the uncompromising integrity and steadfastness of spirit embodied by the late Merle Haggard,” according to the award criteria.
The Academy will bestow the new award tomorrow, Aug. 30 and will be filmed for a TV special set to air on Sept. 9.
“There was simply no way the Academy could hold what may be its most heartfelt event – ACM Honors – without creating a lasting way to acknowledge his legacy,” ACM Board President Ken tucker told Music Row.
It was just announced Monday that Miranda Lambert will receive the inaugural ACM Merle Haggard Spirit Award.
That news came after Sturgill Simpson took to Facebook Monday to write about what he calls “high school pageantry, meat parade award show bull—-” in regards to Haggard’s legacy (some explicit language in that post):
“Im [sic] 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,” Simpson wrote.
Haggard’s beefs with Music Row record execs were well-documented; the Hag once called CBS Records executive Rick Blackburn “the dumbest son-of-a-b—- I’ve ever met” for firing Johnny Cash and for telling Haggard that “Kern River” was a bad song. Which, interestingly enough, also fits into the beginning of Simpson’s post Monday.
“Many years back, much like Willie and Waylon had years before, Merle Haggard said, ‘F— this town. I’m moving.’ and he left Nashville. According to my sources, it was right after a record executive told him that ‘Kern River’ was a bad song. In the last chapter of his career and his life, Nashville wouldn’t call, play, or touch him. 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,” Simpson wrote.
“If the ACM wants to actually celebrate the legacy and music of Merle Haggard, they should drop all the formulaic cannon fodder bull—- they’ve been pumping down rural America’s throat for the last 30 years along with all the high school pageantry, meat parade award show bull—- and start dedicating their programs to more actual Country Music.”
Simpson also wrote that the oft-shared photo of him and Haggard playing guitar together outside on Haggard’s ranch was supposed to be a part of a cover shoot for “Garden & Gun” magazine, and that the cover photo instead went to Chris Stapleton, because the editor of “Garden & Gun” claimed there were “no good photos.”
“Some days, this town and this industry have a way of making we wish I could just go sit on Mars and build glass clocks,” Simpson concluded.