The musical protest song has a long and storied history in country music, as the traditional-pop cycles have gone on through the years, going back at least to 1975 and “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way.” They come about every few years still, even now as new duo Maddie and Tae are making a splash with their debut single “Girl In A Country Song.” While songs like “Girl…” have their place (and make no mistake, lyrically speaking, the tune is absolutely brilliant), I’ve always thought a protest song works a lot better when it decries what seem to be longer-term trends. “Murder on Music Row” was one, and the song featured below is another.
“Hank Williams Wouldn’t Make It Now In Nashville, Tennessee” was written by Aaron Wynne, steel guitar player for Texas country band Eleven Hundred Springs, and originally recorded by that band on their 2004 album Bandwagon:
“What happened to the music I loved so long ago? It seems it’s been forgotten on our country radio, where steel guitar and fiddle have become a novelty. What I’d give to make things like the way they used to be.”
The song also showed up later that year as the opening song on Jason Boland and the Stragglers’ Somewhere in the Middle; it was Boland’s version that I first heard, but both of them are great:
To hear that song, you’d never guess that it had been recorded when it was. Seems even more timely and relevant now, and that really is a damned shame.