Luke Bryan Is on the Other Side of “Outlaw Country” Backlash


Luke Bryan is on the other side of the backlash surrounding his comments about outlaw country in an interview last week with HITS Daily Double.

In the interview, Luke said he isn’t an “outlaw country” artist along the lines of Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and the late Waylon Jennings. While each one of those artists has admitted to past drug use and/or infidelities in their respective memoirs, Luke drew criticism for saying, “I don’t do cocaine and run around. So I’m not going to sing outlaw country. I like to hunt, fish, ride around on my farm, build a big bonfire and drink some beers — and that’s what I sing about.”

Waylon Jennings’ daughter-in-law, Kathy Pinkerman Jennings, posted a YouTube video denouncing Luke’s choice of words, and several media outlets painted Luke as disrespecting country legends. That response came totally out of the blue for Luke and left him extremely upset for days.

He says, “I will never be able to vocalize how disturbing and how heartbroken you can get over a situation like that. Obviously, I’m about to dang cry right now saying it. I’ve never toted it that hard.”

Since he is the reigning ACM and CMA Entertainer of the Year, Luke has become the de facto poster child for everyone who prefers classic country music to modern country sounds. He’s learned that having your words taken out of context comes with the territory of being a superstar act.

“You’re gonna say stuff in this business,” Luke says. “You’re not gonna be where I’m at and it doesn’t happen. If it ain’t gonna happen, there’ll be people that force it to happen.”

While Luke admits he’s had a trying week, he’s also learned a lot as a result of the situation. After Waylon’s son, Shooter Jennings, complimented Luke in the Los Angeles Times for reaching out to him and his mother, Waylon’s widow, Jessi Colter, to explain the situation, Luke felt a big weight lifted off his shoulders.

He says, “It was as if, like, I was kinda set free from it, and the page was turned.”

The situation may even lead to an unlikely collaboration between Shooter and Luke at some point. They’ve been texting about getting together for coffee to discuss music, which Luke says is “the neatest thing.”

He adds, “It just tells you that there’s just something to be taken out of every situation.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.