MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: a preview of Listening In.
This week, host Warren Smith talks to Western music singer-songwriter R.W. Hampton.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Hampton drew on his experience as a rancher to write the soundtrack for life on the range. He’s lived and worked on ranches all over the American West. In 2011, the Western Music Association inducted him into its Hall of Fame.
In this excerpt of their conversation, Hampton reflects on where country music and western music parted ways. Here’s Warren Smith.
WARREN SMITH, HOST: Country music kind of went Hollywood, but Western music kind of stayed true to the roots, kind of true to that faith, freedom, family, God and country message. Is that a fair characterization?
R.W. HAMPTON, GUEST: Yeah, Warren, that’s a very fair characterization, and I think, you know, that years ago it was Country and Western. And there was the BlueGrass and the country music from east of the Mississippi and the middle part of the country. What I tell people is that Western music is the country music of the West. And, you know, when I first started listening to country music, artists like Eddie Arnold and of course Marty Robbins, who I got to meet later, had a valid place. You know, radio played their Western music. And at some point, like you say, they parted company.
And I think country music got younger and younger, and Western music remained as it was. At one time, I had hoped to re-carve out a place for Western music in country music. But you know, in all my trips to Nashville and … I had an agent out of Nashville for years, people would say, we love him, we love his voice, we love the way he sings a song and writes it, but we don’t know what to do with him. They were very into categories at the time.
SMITH: There was a song you wrote called “Shadow of the Cross.” That’s a song that deals with the brokenness of the world and how we deal with that brokenness in the power of Christ. Did that song come out of the Nashville experience or other experiences in your life?
HAMPTON: It came out of other life experiences. Everybody’s got a Nashville, or LA story. You know, even the big guys have one where they got turned down, told go home, don’t quit your day job. So, you know, my disappointments there were not, they were disappointments but they were not devastating. You know, I’ve been through divorce, cancer and some things like that. You know, sometimes we’ve got to come to the end of ourselves, and that’s what “The Shadow of the Cross” is all about.
BASHAM: That’s R.W. Hampton talking to Warren Smith. To hear their complete conversation, look for Listening In tomorrow, wherever you get your podcasts.