As if Darius Rucker hasn’t been a big enough disappointment, now we have this:
…there’s this whole fashion of people who want to take back country music and make it old school and country music to those people is the only kind of music that’s not allowed to evolve. […] I mean, rock ‘n’ roll, there’s nobody sounds like The Beatles. There’s nobody sounds like Bill Haley and The Comets right now. Pop music has changed drastically over the years and keeps changing. And, you know, everybody wants country music to be the same. All the country music fans only want to listen to classic country music and the umbrella’s just much bigger now.
So — mischaracterization, or foul and malicious lie? You make the call. As for me, I would lean toward the latter.
Why? Because with Rucker’s self-professed musical heroes — Radney Foster, Nanci Griffith, and the like — there’s no way you’re going to get me to believe that he doesn’t know better than to characterize “all the country music fans” like this. I could probably write a book on it, but Deryl Dodd said it best not long after Pearl Snaps came out:
“It doesn’t have to be the actual old hits of the ‘70s or ‘60s, but a music that puts a new twist on the traditional sound, like Dwight Yoakam and Alan Jackson.”
Or, in other words, music that at least maintains some link to its roots as it moves forward. I mean, really. All those Texas, Red Dirt, and Americana people that everyone sings the praises of don’t sound like Waylon or George Jones, but you can clearly tell they were at least influenced by those folks and all the folks that came after, like Keith Whitley, George Strait, Ricky Skaggs, etc. I would argue the opposite of what Darius Rucker says, though — that is, country is the only genre, it seems, where wanting the genre to have some semblance of a signature sound with certain instruments and beats is seen as holding the genre back instead of keeping it grounded in its identity. Just as another example, metal has changed a pretty good bit between, say, 1970 and now — I mean, there’s a world of difference between Paranoid, Painkiller, and Symphony X’s Iconoclast, but I never heard anyone claim that the latter wasn’t a metal album, and they’d rightly have been laughed off the planet if they’d tried. And I’m pretty sure I never heard anyone claim that even Symphony X wasn’t metal, or that Accept was stuck in 1982 with their last three albums.
My favorite response to this, though, came in the comments at Saving Country Music back when Rucker started spouting this line of crap:
“Dude got famous for ripping off REM and has the nerve to say this? People talk about rock being dead or needing saving all the time. How many bands have been credited as saving rock? In my lifetime at least 2 (Nirvana and The Strokes). Maybe if he wasn’t in one of the most famous one shot wonder bands and had to slum it in country because fucking NO ONE bought any other Hootie albums except for the first one (which is currently clogging up the user bins and landfills near you) he wouldn’t be so defensive about his career.”
I will still say, though, that with this new talking point, Darius Rucker shows himself to be at least as big a fraud as Ryan Adams. Why? Because Rucker, just like Ryan Adams, has in a way been lying to his fans and country music fans in general. Rucker has been saying, from the beginning of his career, that he’s a fan of that kind of music and that he wanted to do more of it, but the label wouldn’t let him do it because it ostensibly wasn’t commercial enough — which implies that he believed that country music should still sound, well, country, as it evolves. This new talking point suggests that he didn’t believe any of that, and in a way, that’s even more disappointing than his actual music.
(h/t Country California)