Jason Aldean defends country music’s mono-dimensionality…

and sounds pretty damn one-dimensional doing it:

If there is a lot of talk about the country lifestyle on country radio today, well, “how many country singers do you find that are from way up North?” the Macon, Ga., native wonders. “I’ll wait-go ahead. The thing is, if you had a guy from the city singing about pickup trucks, hunting and fishing, whatever, that’s like me singing about being a stockbroker. I sing songs I can relate to.”

I am left quite dumbfounded at the inanity of that. (Plus, I don’t think Mr. Aldean has the brains to be a stockbroker.) I mean, you go back even as recently as to when the likes of George Strait and Alan Jackson (who’s also a Georgia native) were ruling the radio roost, and you’ll see that very few of their songs fell into that vein, let alone were that exclusive. Even the songs in that vein that were done by the likes of Alan Jackson — think “Where I Come From” or “All American Country Boy” — were more universally appealing, so much so that even the New York stockbrokers could relate to them. And really, what’s so wrong with that? I am thinking again of what AeroDillo, one of the frequent commenters on my music posts, had to say about this:

Country used to be the music of people who led those kinds of lives; hard work meaning you worked twenty years in some kind of industry to retire to a tiny house and a pension in exchange for your health and best years; a pickup and boots being a practical work investment rather than a fashion statement; drinking being the most readily-available escape from the grind rather than a hot-damn-this-is-fun filler between shows; living on a dirt road being a municipal fact instead of a source of bragging rights.

But those song were about people – well-meaning sometimes, petty, flawed, stupid, good-hearted, misguided, pig-headed hardworking people. Not caricatures in $300 jeans with strategically placed rips and wear marks who look like they’d suffer a critical meltdown if they went a couple of days without their hairdresser and stylist.

Country musicians back then lived hard. That’s how they were able to sing about fun stuff like going to prison, being addicted to drugs, two-timing on their wives, and shooting men in Reno just to watch them die. They had scars and baggage and years of accrued experience that could be turned into interesting songs, which in turn could be appreciated across a wide audience.

That’s why, in essence, you could have a ranch hand in Texas, a truck driver in Montana, a Pennsylvania steelworker, a farmer in Iowa, a longshoreman in New York, and a fisherman out of Key West listening to the the same music and thinking –

“Yeah. Damn right.”

I miss that music.

So do I. But apparently Jason Aldean and his ilk don’t. Which is a shame, because it was miles ahead of the shit they’ve been peddling.

(h/t Country California)

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9 Responses to “Jason Aldean defends country music’s mono-dimensionality…”

  1. AeroDillo Says:

    Having written a good half a telephone book’s worth of my opinions of modern pop-country, I’ll refrain from doing it again…for now.

    I will say that if you show up in my state as a frat reject with a beer gut, an earring, a drugstore cowboy hat, the aforementioned designer ripped jeans, and the pose that the intrepid Mr. Aldean is striking on the second page of that article…you probably best be careful where you tread, because that’s kind of an invitation to get your ass beat should you venture away from your fans (the ones who base their country cred on having ridden in the back of a truck on a dirt road once, capped off by drinking in a pasture that time when they stepped on a petrified cow pat).

    I do remain perplexed that this new strain of ‘country’ is supposed to be some kind of broadly shared experience for those of us who grew up in the sticks. Doesn’t ring any bells for me, that’s for sure.

    Muchos groceries for the quoting, by the way.

  2. Sabra Says:

    I grew up in an urban area, not a rural one, but once upon a time country music spoke to me, because like AeroDillo said, it was about people. You know I’ve said before that the lack of trucker songs is emblematic of Nashville’s problems. You no longer hear songs about men busting their asses to support their families, & while that does seem to reflect reality for a larger and larger proportion of folks it doesn’t mean there’s any reason to celebrate such failure.

  3. Peter Says:

    First, let me preface this by saying I’m not much of a country fan. I do like Alan Jackson and George Strait but the only country music I’ve ever bought was a Chris LeDoux CD a few years ago. But having grown up in TN I know that the music has changed quite a lot in the past 30 years or so. It is now essentially pop music played with a slight country twang.It seems especially the women sing country pop. Also, I’m not sure when Kid Rock and Jimmy Buffet became country.
    However it’s hard to fault Jason Aldean because he didn’t live the life of “Waylon, Willie, and the boys.” If he were singing that music, chances are he’d get trashed for doing songs that he couldn’t relate to himself. Unfortunately the culture has changed so much over the past 30-35 years, that other country music is probably not ever coming back.
    Secondly, I’m not sure what the current situation is in NYC but I do know that in the recent past, at least, there were no country music stations in NYC so that stockbroker probably didn’t hear that music anyway.

    • Sabra Morse Onstott Says:

      If he were singing that music, chances are he’d get trashed for doing songs that he couldn’t relate to himself.

      Quite possible. But I have a very hard time believing he’s lived the stuff he does sing about. After all, this is the dude responsible for “Amarillo Sky” (which doesn’t objectively suck but got WAY overplayed), & I somehow doubt he knows jack shit about the struggles of small farmers.

  4. southtexaspistolero Says:

    I will say that if you show up in my state as a frat reject with a beer gut, an earring, a drugstore cowboy hat, the aforementioned designer ripped jeans, and the pose that the intrepid Mr. Aldean is striking on the second page of that article…you probably best be careful where you tread, because that’s kind of an invitation to get your ass beat should you venture away from your fans

    Of course. I would imagine it’s that way in rural Georgia, too…

    I grew up in an urban area, not a rural one, but once upon a time country music spoke to me, because like AeroDillo said, it was about people.

    Yep. Truth be told, I’d probably feel the same about all these songs even if I was still living in Texarkana, because there’s only so many times you can sing the same song rewritten over and over before it starts getting tiresome.

    However it’s hard to fault Jason Aldean because he didn’t live the life of “Waylon, Willie, and the boys.”

    I don’t fault him for not living that life as much as for cranking out songs about the same crap over and over. You didn’t see Haggard and Jones doing it, nor Strait, nor Jackson. But that’s all this new bunch of hacks sings about anymore, kicking it in the sticks singing their dirt road anthems and making fun of people who can’t bait hooks.

    • Sabra Morse Onstott Says:

      By the way, “Where I Come From” is probably Alan Jackson’s weakest song not titled “Chattahoochie.” (Which I am sure I misspelled but don’t give enough of a damn about to look up.)

  5. AeroDillo Says:

    You know…the meddling bastard part of me says there’s some golden opportunities here for a David Allan Coe-esque skewering of the prototypical country song.

    Trouble is, the cynic in me says that somebody could write the Perfect County Checklist Anthem and, given the present state of things, nobody’d get the joke.

    • D. Meyer Says:

      Texas singer Aaron Watson recently wrote recorded a song called “HeyY’all (My Contribution to Ruining Country Music).” It is completely a satire with completely cliche lyrics, thumping rock guitars, and he even raps (better than Aldean even.) When he sings it live he calls it the worst country song he ever wrote to make that point. But it would probably be a smash hit if Aldean recorded it lol.

  6. D. Meyer Says:

    The problem here is that Aldean doesn’t sing about hunting and fishing (which even people from the city do). He sings about driving tractors, baling hay, and dirt roads. Being from the south does not mean that person has done those things. Research the guy. He has admitted in the past that the cloths, boots, hat, and earrings are an image he created because he was a clean cut guy from a private school and he got “razzed” for it in the “redneck” bars. I would be shocked if he ever baled hay in his life. If he sang honestly about his own life it may be less one-dimensional. I can’t believe so many people don’t see right through him…

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