I don’t think country music needs saving from anything. Whether you like modern incarnations of what country radio hits are, or you like what I’m doing, or you like something really off in folk, poetry Americana land, it’s all just music, man. If you like one of them, great, go buy it….I’m connected to all kinds of things in that way, and I like all kinds of music. But I would rather people stop caring about lines. Nothing gets on my nerves more than somebody else spending all their energy and time talking about something that they don’t like, and trying to convince you [that] you shouldn’t like it, and this thing over here is better. … I don’t like sushi. In fact, I kind of loathe sushi. But I don’t go around trying to convince my wife or any of my friends, “Oh, you shouldn’t eat sushi, it’s terrible.” It’s the dumbest thing ever. It doesn’t make sense to me why we do that with music.
Well, he’s not too smart then, is he?
I’ve already been over the utility of genres, so we won’t go over that again, but you know what this sounds like? It sounds suspiciously like, “If you don’t like what they play on the radio, don’t listen to it.”
Which in most cases I’d do. I’m not a fan of hip-hop, so I don’t listen to the hip-hop station. I’m not a fan of most of the stuff that the Contemporary Hit Radio stations ran into the ground 20-30 years ago, so I don’t listen to JACK-FM. But I do like country music. You see the problem there?
I don’t necessarily mind having to look elsewhere to find Real Country Music or at least some approximation of it, but it’d be nice if we could turn on the radio and actually hear country music, or at least a better representation of it than the likes of Sam Hunt or Luke Bryan. His stupid analogy doesn’t even hold up. The issue is not that sushi haters are going around telling people they shouldn’t like it; it’s that sushi lovers object to, say, chicken spaghetti being marketed as sushi. I am reminded of the old question asked of gun people, slightly rephrased:
“Why don’t you traditional country fans go off and start your own genre?”
“We did. Who let you in?”
Seriously, I’ve tried to be objective and pragmatic about the whole thing. I’m not a fan of Stapleton’s own music and definitely not a fan of all the dreck on the radio with his name on it. But I thought, better that he win the awards and get the recognition than all the hacks that have taken over the mainstream. Theoretically, that may well be true. But none of this takes place in a vacuum. Here we are, with so many fans of Real Country Music pinning their hopes on this guy for getting substance and identity back into mainstream country, and here he is prominently and publicly taking the side of all the people who have turned the mainstream component of the genre into the shithole that it is. Maybe such should have been expected — after all, we all know who butters his bread, no matter how people try to rationalize that all away — but it’s still quite disappointing just the same.