One-liners: one way to sum up country


In country music's biggest year in history, Garth Brooks and Billy Ray Cyrus dominated the top spot of the Billboard album charts.

The year 1992 saw country radio overtake Top 40 in nationwide listeners. But perhaps the most important innovation in the business of country music was the proliferation of short, offhand comments -- "one-liners" -- to describe these new millionaires and national heroes. Never before have country acts been so easy to sum up, with usually just a simile or a metaphor doing the trick.

Here are highlights from the Year of the One-Liner:

Garth Brooks' Christmas LP: "Hearing these tunes at this time of the year [August] is like playing Joni Mitchell's music at a bachelor party."

Restless Heart: "Sounded like the Eagles stranded in Lake Tahoe."

Alan Jackson: "Mr. Jackson's lack of showmanship stood out like a billy club in a floral arrangement."

Joe Diffie: "This was one of those concerts where sightlines should not have been of prime concern."

Diamond Rio: "One pair of scissors short of greatness."

Brooks & Dunn: "Loggins and Oates."

Alabama: "Much of their set was easy listening with a Southern accent; call it grain elevator music."

Jimmy Buffett: "This concert was spring break for people who had to find baby sitters."

Little Texas: "The Bon Jovi of country music."

Garth Brooks: "If he was just some guy at a party, sitting on a couch and playing his songs, you wouldn't think, 'Man, one day this guy's gonna knock Michael Jackson out of No. 1'; instead, you'd think, 'I wonder if he knows "Fire and Rain"?' "

John Conlee: "His six years' work as a mortician prepared him for his reception."

Dixie Chicks: "Eternally smiling in their Frederick's of Cheyenne outfits, the Chicks tested positive for Branson."

Butch Hancock: "Calling Mr. Hancock prolific is like saying that Bob Vila is 'kinda handy around the house.' "

Diamond Rio: ". . ran all over the stage like some strange combination of the Keystone Cops and Menudo."

Trisha Yearwood: ". . . dressed as if for a date with a guy who's about to hear the 'Let's just be friends' speech."

Marty Stuart: "I just found out that I was mistaken; Mr. Stuart did not play Eddie Munster as a kid."

Willie Nelson: "He could be called 'the red-headed strangler' for what he's done to some classics."

New Country Fashions: "Cowboys and cowgirls are wearing multicolored shirts that look like a pink Cadillac crashing into a New Mexico souvenir stand."

Ronna Reeves: "To paraphrase the novelty hit by Julie Brown: 'Look out! The homecoming queen's got a mike!' "

Billy Ray Cyrus' two and a half-hour show: "He pulled out all the stops except the one marked 'stop.' "

Willie Nelson: "He can't sing like Larry Bird can't jump, but by making do with what they've got -- a real rural mentality -- both have turned liabilities into moot points."

Vince Gill: "He didn't even grimace when he played guitar solos, which is like a model with collagen lips not pouting on the runway."

Mary-Chapin Carpenter: "Mary-Blatant Carpetbagger."

Clint Black: "When you hear him sing in concert, you experience something almost miraculous, like watching Michael Jordan dunk Meryl Streep talk with an accent."

Lorrie Morgan: "She can sing a Czechoslovakian phone book and make it sound French."

Garth Brooks: "Is it true that a filmmaker is shooting this tour for an upcoming documentary called 'Spinal Hat'?"

Holly Dunn: "This progenitor of the tri-Delta blues relied too much on that growlly thing that is the domain of either child stars or former hit makers on the way out."

McBride and the Ride: "The Air Supply of country."

Wynonna Judd, starting her first solo tour in Midland, Texas: "Sort of like the Yankees tapping Morey Amsterdam to throw out the first ball on opening day."

Tammy Wynette's boxed set: "This is music to do the dishes by while your ol' man is passed out in front of a 26-inch TV set locked into ESPN."

Randy Travis: "His stance ranged from that of an underwear model to a linebacker about to blitz."

Michelle Wright: "The Liza Minnelli of country."

Country Music for Kids: "So many country albums these days sound like they were made for a 4- to 6-year-old mentality, but Walt Disney Records has just released the first official country LP."

Kenny Rogers: ". . . currently downstate teaching his acting craft to Travis Tritt and Naomi Judd ('Just squint whenever they tell you something')."

Diamond Rio: "The sort of incessant hams that make you feel like torching the house of the person who invented cordless instruments."

Compiled from Michael Corcoran's 1992 Dallas Morning News reviews.

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