14 Thoughts Real Country
by Walter Price
That’s Randy Rogers talking about his album, Hold My Beer, with Wade Bowen.
Railing against something for no other reason than to hear yourself speak is a waste of time. There are subject matters that do need a bit of the ol’ railing as it were. One so lucky subject has been stuck in my craw for some considerable time. Where is the ‘country’ in country music? Not a new ache.
Enough has been said about the hottie on the tailgate, slide on in the cab of my truck to go headlights out down the country road in those short shorts that are looking just right in the backwoods moonlight while we’re muddin’ and a lovin’ sippin’ on some frosty cold oneshoping your Pa doesn’t wait up with a shotgun let’s just get out of this town.
Here are some abridged facts. Country music is a simple folk, hillbilly, blues and Western based music genre that found its way to America when European immigrants settled in the Appalachian Mountains. A genre that got its popular roots to grow in the 1920’s in the southern USA. Songs and folks that told stories of the working man and woman, tales of struggles, happiness and everything in-between. Check out Orthophonic Joy for good insight.
Sometime in the 1950’s things got a bit more commercial. The singing cowboy movie had already been a popular Saturday staple for millions and the recent death of the most intriguing, brilliant and influential players, Hank Williams, was gone and it was time to cash in on this easy to produce cash cow.
Anyway, things continued to change and in the late 70’s and into the 80’s things went country bananas. Partly to do due with the John Tavolta film Urban Cowboy. No kidding this movie made every city dwelling numbnuts want to slide into some tight Wranglers (or Lee as it was for the ladies of the day) jeans and hit the sawdust littered dancehalls. This period produced some great artists with timeless albums but the pop side of things was in full swing, if you will.
Now the rap induced numbers here and there, the bro-country thing and the disregard for heritage, replacing it for bucks of the cash kind and not the rodeo sort is seemingly gone from ‘country stations’. I get it, people want it or someone told them they wanted it now like crack cocaine the masses seem addicted to shit in the brains that drives this music lover absolutely bonkers.
If you want to find good ole country folk sounds they’re out and about you just have to search outside your car stereo. I’ve lamented about this trend for some time now and since I have no pull like say iHeartRadio or any of the other mega US outlets I will just publish some thoughts about the subject from some names you may know and some you should. That was the point of this anyhow.
“As I listen to Alan Jackson it makes me sad that Nashville has drifted far from its roots. His songs have integrity, class & are timeless!”
“I hope [contemporary country] kind of swings around back to where it should be. But I don’t really see a George Jones or a Buck Owens or anything that fresh coming up. I’m sure there must be somebody doing it, but most of that music reminds me of rock in the middle Eighties where it became incredibly generic and relied on videos.”
“There’s a lot of crap floating around under the banners of ‘Folk’ and ‘Country’ most of it will be gone in a couple of years when the winds of fashion change again.”
“If I hear one more tailgate in the moonlight, Daisy Duke song, I want to throw up. . . There’s songs out there on the radio right now that make me be ashamed to be even in the same format as some other artists.”
“I just didn’t like how blatant country music was. Nothing seemed poetic or subtle. Nothing could be interpreted two different ways! It’s all very spelled out.”
“The other irritation, when people wouldn’t know jazz from country and country from jazz, they see mandolins, accordions, hats and waistcoats and describe us as one thing…Mumford & Sons…that notion boils my blood. I take no influence or inspiration from such music.”
“I think country will always be associated with rhinestones and schmaltz, regardless of what great music is made under the COUNTRY banner, and I genuinely believe that’s a factor in it being a tough sell over here. That image has never been and never will be ‘cool’.. Besides, ‘real’ country music, honky-tonk etc.. has now been rebranded as Americana, possibly the widest spanning genre in history. These days it seems if you play an acoustic guitar, it’s Americana. For me that’s a lot of bollocks and I think a lot of great artists are being wrongly labelled due to this. I mean look at Sturgill Simpson, up for the Americana Grammy award for an album entitled ‘Metamodern Sounds in COUNTRY Music’.. Strange days indeed.”
“I feel like modern country is deliberately dumbing down the human race,”
“I think one of the things missing in modern Pop Country is the story telling. The Country and Folk music that I grew up to was all about the story. That’s what made the song memorable.”
“You have to get past the belly buttons and the videos and somewhere in there there’s some kind of music.”
“The recordings of our heroes, the recordings that inspire us, that we try to emulate, not one of them is perfect.”
“And somewhere along the way, it seems the lyrical content stopped being about the story and become more about “Me”.”
“Back then it was like, what the fuck is going on? This guy (Grath Borrks) is terrible. This isn’t country music. . . That means the bar has been lowered so far that we’re like, please….All the music sounds like Nickelback.” (side note: Shooter digs Garth now)
“I feel country music has drifted far from its roots. I’ve actually been told by many main stream radio programmers that they love my music but its just too country to fit their format. At the end of the day, I don’t resent or despise the pop-country artists at all. For all I know, they are good ol’ boys just like me just trying to make a living for their families. For me personally, I try not to listen to the current trend. I try to stick to my roots and write from the heart. I may not make mainstream platinum records but I promise my albums are all heart and soul.”
Til the next time…
MAKE REAL MUSIC…