Keith Urban Deems Musical Definitions ‘Meaningless’
Keith Urban is a bit of a musical anomaly. While the country community firmly embraces the singer and guitarist, there are critics that consider him both a pop and a rock artist. He’s a lot of things to a lot of music fans, but terms, categories and definitions don’t carry much weight for Urban and he isn’t sitting around thinking about how he should be labeling himself. For him, it’s a state of mind.
“Totally meaningless to me. I make music and people decide what it is,” the singer said when asked how he feels about the delineations.
The ‘American Idol’ judge further explained his influences during his formative years as an artist, saying, “That’s it. I don’t think about it any more than that. I grew up as a country artist, but had very contemporary country influences. Contemporary country music – well, what that is, is what you hear on the radio. People have this relentless ongoing conversation about what’s country and what isn’t. It’s never changed. If people really really were country fans, they’d know it’s always been there, in every single decade.”
Urban did further address the relationship between country and pop, which is longstanding, saying, “What’s great about country is its simple, organic way of absorbing pop inspirations into its sound, and pulling the genre forward. It’s been that way since the ’50s. That period, the mid-to-late ’50s, when rock ‘n’ roll exploded, it started to take over the country audience.
“Guys like Chet Atkins intentionally started to put string sections on country songs, which had never been done before. Everybody at the time thought that was sacrilegious – they said, ‘That doesn’t sound anything like Ernest Tubb. What are you doing?’ But it was a way for them to keep the sound moving forward and expand the boundaries.”
Clearly, Urban is a man with a rich database and hard drive of knowledge.
More importantly, Urban doesn’t think the country music is limited to just sounds. It’s much more than that, culturally speaking. It’s a way of being and a mindset, a fact to which most fans will attest.
He said, “It’s a spirit. I’ve always thought that. Country is a state of mind.”