Why I resist saying I play country

I’m laid back in the dentist chair having my teeth cleaned.  The radio is on the PA system.  It’s country music.  After several songs  I realize: 1) I can’t tell who any of the singers are; 2) they are all male; 3) they all sound alike, and 4) it’s the same song, if not the words, the melodies and rhythm.  Over and Over.

Entertainment Weekly has done a  nice job (complete with music videos) of chronicling the brouhaha that broke out this year over country music.  What it is.  What it ain’t.  And who’s finally saying something about the sorry state of country music.

I think it’s Alan Jackson who observed:  there aren’t any country radio stations anymore.  They play country-pop (Taylor Swift and Keith Urban) or bro-country (Florida Georgia Line) or what I call truck-country. But they don’t play Alan Jackson.

I have no problem with Swift’s and Urban’s talent.  Or their music.  Just don’t call it country. Call if pop.

I’m not sure what to call the ditties that spew forth from the drink-beer drive- trucks pick-up girls-in-cutoffs songwriting machine other than embarrassing. Really.  In reading the article and viewing/listening to the clips, I was embarrassed for these men:  Jason Aldean singing “1994.” Blake Shelton’s  “Boys ‘Round Here.” Montgomery Gentry’s “Titty’s Beer.”  If that one doesn’t say it all, then nothing does.

My new favorite Kacey Musgraves said what I’m saying:

It’s a little embarrassing when people outside of the genre ask what I sing and I say country. You automatically get a negative response, a cheese factor… My favorite compliment ever is when someone says, “I hate country music but I love your music.”

So, yeah, when asked what kind of music I play, I often hem and haw and say: real country, or Americana, or country folk.  Or all of the above.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the designation, “Americana,” came about because artists like Kacey didn’t want to be associated with the country of radio.

Read the article and view the clips.


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4 comments for “Why I resist saying I play country

  1. October 20, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    When ever I am in one of those holes with no Cell phone coverage, I am forced to listen to either Pop, Pop Country, or talk radio. All three are great motivators to write music… Thank the lord for Pandora,, and Americana…

  2. October 20, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    It use to be music was just that, music. You could buy a Beatles album and here rock, pop, and Ringo singing Buck Owens. Then the suits took over and you had to be classified. On my last CD part of the process was what kind of muisic was this? I yearned for a category that just said “Good”. Oh well…. It is what it is. I think your response should be “Music people like”.

    • Thomas
      October 20, 2013 at 8:35 pm

      that’s perfect: Music people like

    • Dan Dunnagan
      October 22, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      Yep, nothing’s worse than someone playing in the Buffett, Zeppelin, or Yes genre. (I know, I know–the example’s pointless if you’re not a Buffett-Zeppelin-Yes fan.)

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