The Trouble with Country Music

Why is it that so many people detest Country music? Country music has even been used as a torture device in prisons and in assaults on hostile combatants. How did Country sink this low? Before we can answer that question, though let's clearly differentiate what we're talking about. Popular Country music is not the same as Bluegrass or even Ole Tyme music (you know, like "Man of Constant Sorrows" from the movie Oh Brother Where Art Thou? - which is a truly great song). Pop Country has become its own unique medium, seemingly becoming further and further divorced from it Appalachian and Western roots.

Among Hee Haw's other achievements was the "Daisy Maefication" of Southern women

In contrast, the Beverly Hillbillies theme was in fact true Bluegrass - although they did have an Elly Mae on that show who looked a lot like the Hee Haw gals

We think the slow decline of Country Music began in the 1970's  with weekly variety show "Hee Haw." That's when somehow Country Music started becoming sexy. It was a strange transformation indeed - before that Country was associated with mountain folk and cowboys and maybe dust bowl immigrants. Then came the Beverly Hillbillies, Hee Haw and the Dukes of Hazard in relatively quick succession. Add to that some Cannonball Run and the CB Radio craze - all of sudden - Country was cool. The less than spectacular Grand Ole Opry moved from its old digs in downtown Nashville to a Lavish theater built next to what would become one of the largest hotels in the world (outside of Vegas). Dolly Parton had a big role in helping to make that transition and she now rules over a Country Music themed empire in Pigeon Forge Tennessee (which by the way is one of our favorite places).

Country Music has gone from the above to the below

Dolly is visiting the same doctors that have mummified Joan Rivers

What's happened to Dolly is a sad but apt parallel to what's occurred to the world of Country music and the actual music they now produce. Dolly went from being an authentic girl of the Smokies - with songs like "Rocky Top" to a Hollywood Botox junkie. Country music has taken a similar path  - moving away from the true sounds of Kentucky and Tennessee to adopt some sort of amorphous popular sound that is often now indistinguishable from the rest of popular music. We've got semi-Country singers now with $ signs in their names and who knows maybe Justin Bieber will start singing Country ballads soon - would anyone notice the difference?

Many have rightfully accused Nashville of producing Mickey Mouse music... 

Country Music is now a mix of tired cliches and familiar popular melodies with only remnants and symbolism to remind us that there is any connection at all left to the musical traditions that launched their industry. The following parody video ("America and Beer") works because it illustrates just how formulaic and hollow most Pop Country is today.

How many Country Music cliches can you pick out in this song?

So what happened? Did sex and commercialism kill Country music? Country and Folk music represented a unique and important American art-form - something that we could truly call our own. Artiest like Johnny Cash showed what it could be. Folk Music has largely disappeared though, and Pop Country has sucked in all the earlier variations of the genre and tossed them into a giant cultural blender - coming out with something hardly recognizable. 

The 10 Most Common Country Music Cliches
  1. I love to drink (usually beer but I'll drink whisky 'cause it's cool)
  2. I love my pickup truck (most often an F-150)
  3. I love to drink while driving my pickup truck
  4. Country girls (who love pickup trucks) are sexier than city girls
  5. My sexy pickup truck-loving girlfriend left because I drink too much
  6. Oh yeah, she took everything I own with her (except the pickup, got to draw the line somewhere)
  7. Living in the middle of nowhere is actually a lot of fun, except when you're drunk and alone.
  8. Saying "Hell Yeah" about things in general is important
  9. Wearing Cowboy hats makes you country strong, even when you're drunk, broke and alone.
  10. God loves me, because I live in the middle of nowhere, I'm broke, alone and drunk - but hey I've still got my pickup truck with a rebel flag in the back window - but I still love America even though I signed that petition for my state to secede from the union after them Democrats stole the election.
We live in region very close to where Country Music was born. The Appalachian culture is so much richer than the Tinseltown Hollywood crap Nashville has decided to mimic - there's still stories and great music out there - waiting to be heard. All that's needed is for Nashville to get real and remember what's its like to be unique. Tennessee ain't California !

Man of constant sorrows - a mix of authentic Bluegrass and Ole Tyme music

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