I happened to catch an article on the internet about the recent Country Music Awards. It got me thinking about a conversation I had with a local disc jockey about fifteen years ago. The station he worked for played country music, so I asked him why they never played old school country like Johnny Cash or Hank Williams on their show. Everything they put out on the airwaves sounded a lot like pop music with a slide guitar thrown in.
The DJ got a wistful look in his eye and shook his head. It quickly became obvious to me that I was preaching to the choir and
I will always remember what he told me because it was a great line and a use it every chance I get.
"Today's country music is made for people who hate country music."
Dang if he wasn't right.
Artists like Patsy Cline, Charlie Pride, Conway Twitty, and Johnny Cash crooned out the background music of my childhood. Any time I hear a snippet of one of their songs, I can't help but think of Saturday haircuts at the local barber shop, trips to the landfill with my Dad, or summer visits to Leroy and Helena's farm where the kids would play "The Devil went Down to Georgia" on the record player over and over and over again.
4-H meetings. Fire halls. The State Fair.
Although I can't get behind the songs that are making it into the Top 40, I have been able to find some new artists that are playing what I consider good old fashioned country. Guys like Bobby Bare Junior, for instance, or Justin Townes Earl and Mazzy Star. It's still out there. You just have to look for it.
In the mean time, let the CMAs worry about which "country" singer is wearing the coolest, hippest dress. My country might not make the fashion headlines, but its music is dressed to kill.