I love country music. I’ve listened to it since I was a kid. Honestly, it’s my favorite genre of music. That being said, I’m stuck in an awful situation: I can’t listen to today’s country music. Why? Because modern country music — pop country — absolutely sucks.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some catchy songs out there and a few artists have produced some decent music, but overall, the music that’s come out of Nashville recently is absolute trash. Garbage. It’s honestly pathetic. Considering the great heritage of the genre, this shit is downright insulting to the legends of the past. It’s all the same, it’s not even “country” anymore, and you need to stop listening to it.
Country music used to mean something. When Hank Williams was penning songs and performing across the country, he was singing from the heart. The words that came out of his mouth had meaning. The same goes for the great legends of country music who followed in his footsteps: Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, and so on. You could relate to what they sang because they were singing something real. Can you do that with what you hear on the country stations today?
Aside from the songs being unappealing musically, as they are certainly more pop than country, lyrically, they’re just selling an idea. This whole “sitting on the tailgate with your high school sweetheart sipping moonshine by the railroad tracks” is made up. The whole “take you home from the honky tonk in my jacked up Chevy” shit is, too. Do some people do that? Sure. But is that what country music is really about? I don’t think so, and I certainly don’t think it should be.
Country music, in its most true, basic form, should be an expression of emotions, feelings, and experiences common to the average American. After all, it’s the American genre. Sure, it can have a bit of a rural slant to it, but that’s to be expected. Country music used to be like that– about love, heartbreak, life and death, joys and sorrows. It was about shit that was actually real. There were songs that told stories, true or fictional, that left the listener feeling as if he were there when it happened. Does any of that exist today? When you hear one of these “drinking Fireball in a tree stand with my girlfriend” songs, do you feel like you are a part of that story?
Of course you don’t. The pop country music that is played on the radio these days is meaningless. It’s just words and chords thrown together to be catchy. Now, I certainly understand what they’re doing, and I realize they sell out huge arenas with this crap. The performers and producers are professionals; they do what they do to make money. And if that’s what’s working for them, then good on them for using their talents to make a buck. But compared to real country music — the stuff of the past or what’s played by those few musicians who cling to the roots of this great art form — the country of today just doesn’t do anything for me, nor should it for you.
What you hear today on pop country stations is not country. It’s pop music with “country” themes thrown in, sung by a man or a woman with a forced southern accent. If that’s what you like, then who am I to tell you what to listen to? But if you truly enjoy and appreciate this classic form of American music, you need to stop listening to pop country. Listen to the legends, or listen to Red Dirt country. There were great musicians and singers in the past who could, in the words of David Allan Coe, “make folks feel what you feel inside.” If you’re not into that, then there are definitely contemporary artists who are staying true to their country roots. Some are more old-school than others, but all of them make music that is good, relatable, and meaningful. In the end, that’s what country music is supposed to be all about..
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