That doesn’t sound quite right.

From a comment at Saving Country Music:

I can’t tell you how many people discount the opinions of younger listeners just because they had the misfortune of being born after everything supposedly went to hell for music. This, I’d say, is the crux of the “country music must evolve” argument from the mainstream: acting like the only “real” country music available stopped getting made 30 years ago in the mainstream is what causes people to backpedal the other way.

Do those younger people’s opinions get dismissed just because of their age? Or do they get dismissed because they think that everything before Garth and Shania is just “tired old stuff” (as one Hot New Country station in Houston put it back in the late 1990s) and thus no good? Based on what I’ve seen, I can’t help but think it’s the latter; you can look at Farce the Music’s recurring “Country Twitterfail” feature for perfect examples of this.

And why should these people be taken seriously? One of the defining features of country music is its reverence for its roots and heritage — respect for those who came before, if you want to put it like that. You listen to the likes of Florida-Georgia Line and Luke Bryan and none of that reverence is evident in their music; country’s just a label to them, not a genre with a history that commands and deserves respect.

And sure, country music has to evolve. If it didn’t it would become more or less a historical artifact of American culture, much like, say, jazz music. But how does that argument justify, for example, Jason Aldean being the mainstream star and getting the radio airplay instead of Jason Boland? Which song is the better representation of country music — “Burnin’ it Down” or “Ludlow”? I know my answer, and I bet you know my answer too.

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4 Responses to “That doesn’t sound quite right.”

  1. Sabra Morse Onstott Says:

    But…”Ludlow” is about union-busting and a massacre and important stuff. “Burnin’ It Down” is about sex. No one struggles with unfairness in life anymore; all they do is drink beer and fuck. Dallas Davidson said so.

    • southtexaspistolero Says:

      No one struggles with unfairness in life anymore; all they do is drink beer and fuck. Dallas Davidson said so.

      Yep, that’s about right. It’s like I’ve said before, yeah, it’s cool that you have that big bad truck with the bed full of beer on ice, but how did you afford that? Do you work? Have a home life? Or is drinking with that hawt honehh in the cutoffs on the tailgate all you do?

  2. Michael Rauch (@TheCheapSeats_) Says:

    Which article does this from?

    Anyway, what I really want to say is:

    The antithesis of this point of view is found in hard rock/metal. A perfect example is California Breed.

    Glenn Hughes is the guy. Yes, that Glenn Hughes. The iconic Glenn Hughes known as the voice of rock in Europe. With stints in Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. 60+ years old. Sounds better today than ever. Lead a band with Joe Bonamassa on guitar.

    And Jason Bonham (who has since left the band). Son of Jon Bonham. Drumming legend in his own right.

    That’s two generations right there. But then they plucked some snot-nosed, 24 year old New York kid to play guitar, Andrew Watt. That’s three generations.

    And Julian Lennon introduced Glenn to Andrew. Yes, that Julian Lennon, son of the Beatle.

    The article on SCM about country music hating itself is true. Apparently country has to “evolve” where as rock always go back to it’s roots.

    Lzzy Hale of Halestorm (love ‘em or hate ‘em, irrelevant to this) who has been performing at awards shows with Eric Church has said that when it’s time to write for an album she always goes back to Black Sabbath, et al.

    It’s not a generational problem. It’s a “country” problem.

    • southtexaspistolero Says:

      It was in comments here, Michael.

      It’s not a generational problem. It’s a “country” problem.

      For the most part I’d agree, but in the case of country music it’s also a generational problem. I pointed it out myself on SCM in comments at that same post:

      The problem isn’t that the younger fans aren’t familiar enough with the older country music; it’s that they harbor an open, extreme contempt for it. (See Farce the Music’s recurring “Country TwitterFAIL” feature, as well as the recent vitriol spewed at George Strait by Luke Bryan fans after his ACM Entertainer of the Year win, for perfect examples of this.)…I mean, it’s cool if folks don’t like at least some of the older country — I’ll freely admit that the old folks all put out stuff that I wasn’t fond of — but to not like most or even any of it? It might sound snobbish of me, but the fewer fans like that country music has, the better.

      …I mean, it’s one thing to say, “I really like country music but am not a big fan of Waylon Jennings or Sturgill Simpson,” but it’s quite another to say, “I like country music, but anything before Luke Bryan’s debut album sucks.” Not trying to say Bryan’s debut album was a turning point necessarily, but I do think that to have a proper appreciation for the genre you should at least marginally appreciate at least some of the older stuff.

      On the other hand, it might well be that the movers and shakers in the genre are attracting these people precisely because of what Sammy Kershaw said about country music hating itself, but these people are still calling themselves country music fans and they still hate all the music before the bilge that brought them to the genre, and they’re all mostly younger people, so I do still think that to a large extent it’s a generational thing. In all my years of listening to country I have never seen so many of its alleged fans having such a contempt for the genre as it existed before their current favorites.

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