While the Tinsel and Rot Board of Governors continues to deliberate over the inaugural class of inductees into the Tinsel and Rot Hall of Fame, I would like to present a brief response to a recent column written by Tandy Rice for Music City News. In that column, Mr. Rice proposed that the Grand Ole Opry institute a mandatory retirement for all members when they reach the age of 65. Tinsel and Rot responds:
First of all, never start another column with a quote from Garth Brooks. Especially when it has very little to do with what follows and surely wasn't thought up by His Garthness. No one's impressed with your knowledge of the wit and wisdom that comes out of Garth Brooks's mouth. And, while we're on mouths, no one's impressed with your teeth either.
Second, your proposal, delivered on the heels of Jeanne Pruett's voluntary resignation from the Opry, is so ridiculous that it could only come from someone who used to be the president of the Country Music Association. Complaining that the Opry membership skews too old is like going to Branson, Missouri, and bemoaning the lack of good strip clubs. A large portion of the people who go to the Grand Ole Opry, myself included, go expressly to hear the "Old Guard." The Opry is not a young person's scene, and no one is under any delusion that it is. Yes, listening to Bill Anderson sing can frequently be akin to sticking your head in a blender, but, y'know, who cares? It's Bill Anderson and it's cool to get the chance to see Bill Anderson while he's among the living. When he dies, the Opry can force him into retirement. I'm fine with that plan. But until then, he stays, unless he decides it's time to call it quits. He's earned the right.
Furthermore, if we instituted your genius plan, the Opry would have about 15 members available to perform on any given weekend. And as kind and reverential as people like Trace Adkins and Brad Paisley are, the likelihood of them putting their highly profitable tours on hold to play the Opry twice a month can't be considered high. The days of the Opry featuring the best of the current crop of musicians are gone, ruined by an industry in which touring is the only real way for a working musician to make money.
Now, I suppose this problem could be resolved by inducting more members into the Opry. Unfortunately, doing so would dilute the 80-year legacy of the institution. Just about everybody in Young Nashville who should be in the Opry is, with a few exceptions (I'm leaving myself some wiggle room there; I can't think of any, but I'm sure there must be some). And if the only way the Opry can grow is to force Little Jimmy Dickens into retirement so Rascal Flatts can join the Opry, well, then, just shut the whole damn thing down and let Carol Lee Cooper do a burlesque show on closing night.
I know the Opry isn't a big moneymaker anymore, and it's surely years past its prime. But it needs to exist and, more important, it needs to exist with the over-65 legends that made the words "Grand Ole Opry" mean something. A world in which there is no Grand Ole Opry--a world that will likely exist before the Opry can make it to 100-- is a sad world. But a world in which an Opry exists that boots out Little Jimmy Dickens, Porter Wagoner, Jean Shepard, Ralph Stanley, Del McCoury, Loretta Lynn, Charlie Louvin, and George Jones is a much sadder one.
In closing, Mr. Rice, you're a douchebag.