People always ask "What sort of music do you like?" And I'm pretty broad minded. I like most things from ABBA to ZZ Top. Amadeus Mozart , opera and Medieval Baebes to the Ramones, Pink Floyd and Elton John. I love the Blues and the B-52s. Even Lady Gaga and Ke$ha have some tunes I like. It would probably be easier to answer with what don't I like. Country music is one of them.
My dad used to listen to country music a lot and one day while listening to CBC I heard Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues.
Wow, that's pretty good I thought.
Soon I had amassed a pile of Johnny Cash CDs. Enough that I can load up my CD player for 5 hours of listening and still have a few discs in reserve.
I love his gravelly voice and thumping guitar rhythm. His cover of Hurt is amazing and The Man Comes Around is haunting. I think an argument could be made that he was the original Punk. He was certainly an iconoclast and walked his own line.
That being said, I hate Country Music.
And I've been wondering why. I like Johnny Cash. I like Blue Grass and American Roots music. I like KD Lang and Patsy Cline. I play the Oh Brother Where Art Thou? sound track a lot.
Man of Constant Sorrow is my personal theme some days.
And yet, some evenings when one particular cashier and one particular grocery clerk are together in the Buy Food they switch the music to country. She usually switches back before she locks the office and goes home. But one night she forgot, leaving me to listen to broken hearts and pick up trucks all night. Drove me nuts. Worse than the Adult Contemporary or the 50s Teen Angst stations.
The Blues are full of what could be called hurtin' music. So it can't be the content.
Then as I listened I realized; it's the pitch.
That nasal twang they all sing in. And all the male singers in the 8 hours play list all sounded exactly the same.
Country music has found a template that works and pleases the audience and they repeat it ad nauseum . Probably more so than Top 40 Pop, where some lip service is sometimes paid towards the mythos of Rock 'n Roll and having a unique voice. Sometimes. Teeny bopper bands are pretty interchangeable. But they don't have any pretence to artistic integrity or anything other than this is a lot of fun.
Of course, repeating what works ad infinitum makes Country music insanely profitable. But it really pisses me off to have some rich rhinestone encrusted hillbilly wannabe driving about in his $60K pickup singing about how great it is to grow up poor. Complete with an electric guitar, smoke machines and laser show now.
It sucks to be poor. It sucks to have pain and loss and struggle, but there's also hope too. Johnny Cash knew that, and it comes out in his songs.
So give me the Man in Black and the guys playing Blue Grass and not making any money. You can keep the rest in Hashville.
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