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Some Notes on Country Music
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Driving around rural and small town America, Christian talk and Country Music fill the airwaves. In my entire record collection, I have maybe two bona fide Country albums, a greatest hits collection of Hank Williams and one by Dolly Parton. My interest in Williams was by way of Rock Music as he was a key influence on early Rock n Roll. And Dolly Parton’s album got high marks in the Rolling Stone Record Guide. I might have listened to Williams album once and Parton’s album a few times. And, I’m not counting the works of Bob Dylan & the Band, the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, the Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Grateful Dead, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Seger, Crosby-Stills-and-Nash, and many others who drew inspiration from Country Music(or even played it straight). The fact remains the Country Music community never embraced those acts as part of its own, though the relations between Nashville and the Rock community was generally respectful, at least at the professional level.

Though the inertia of Country Music has never been my thing — even Country Rock is best when country-inflected than full-blown country, which is why Dylans’ NASHVILLE SKYLINE is rather lightweight apart from “Lay Lady Lay” — , it’s not a bad way to pass the time when you have nothing else to do, which is usually the case when you’re driving for hours on end through rural areas. The scenery is nice, and the Country Music, at the very least, is generally unobtrusive, much like Mexican music(which I prefer to Punk, Heavy Metal, Rap, and Grunge). You can listen to it or ignore it, and it doesn’t make much difference either way, even to the singer as a ‘country boy can survive’. Granted, rural isn’t to be confused with natural. Despite the proximity, rurality is nature tamed and rendered accessible. You can take it easy out in the country but not in nature, best represented by Classical Music of the Romantic Period.

Last year, two Country songs played regularly on the radio as I drove across Tennessee. Neither is great but hit the mark and remained with me. One is an easy-going feel-good song, an affirmation of family and community. It’s called “We Didn’t Have Much” by Justin Moore. The other, Blake Shelton’s “God’s Country” is Biblical in tone, a testament about man’s ties to his roots and land and duty to God above. And, duty to country, meaning both the soil beneath one’s feet and the flag of one’s tribe. It feels righteous and judgmental, harking back to basics from the distractions of modernity. Even though most of the political, economic, and cultural power is concentrated in the city, it’s telling that the synonym for nation is ‘country’, implying that a true nation is about land and roots(or blood and soil) than about ideas and fashions aired in cafes and clubs.

These songs aren’t exactly my cup of tea(or swill of moonshine or glass of beer), but the hokum has the feel of sincerity and heart. It sure beats Country music gone ‘hipster'(or hickster), like this silly song about having a beer with Jesus.

Growing up, no one in my circle, or any other circle for that matter, showed any sign of interest in Country Music. And even my minimal interest was ‘academic’, an acknowledgement of the roots of Rock and Pop, the only music that mattered for most of us. And by ‘Country’, I mean real Country Music(not stuff like the Eagles), though some may contest that what goes by Country is essentially an urban distillation of twang by Nashville, much like Hollywood Americana isn’t real Americana.
Given that generations of Americans have been born and raised in cities and nearby suburbs, the great majority don’t even have country roots to speak of. Also, whereas the great majority of early Anglo, Germanic, and Irish immigrants first settled on farms and then moved to the cities, the later immigrant groups settled in cities around heavy industry and the service sector. As their country roots were entirely in the Old World, they lacked a connection to the American Heartland that old stock white Americans(and blacks) maintained over generations, even in cities.

Besides, for various reasons, Country Music is associated with West Virginia, the South, and the West(with its related cowboy music, leading to ‘Country and Western’, though ‘country’ connotes remaining on the land and putting down roots, like Southern whites who could trace their ancestry on the ground they standing, whereas ‘western’ implies restless wanderlust, the life of the nomad as searcher or exile). Country Music always had a moral component, but its charm and appeal owes to a certain looseness, being a country slacker than a city slicker. Twang can’t be too ‘anal’. Yet, despite the natural(and even a bit vulgar) side to Country(once even set against urban bourgeois repression), it’s Christian elements prevent it from going over the cliff into full-blown pagan barbarism, which later came with Heavy Metal, the favored music of rural kids who just about had enough of Jesus talk(though there are also Metal Jesus bands). The anarcho-chastity contradiction of Country, its appreciation of spontaneity(uninhibited by excessive learning and ‘culture’) and anxiety about coarseness, was perfectly illustrated in the first radio interview scene in COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER.

Paradoxically, it is this very ‘innocence’ that makes rural and small-town girls so easy to prey on by the increasingly depraved and sexualized industry. Whether the authority is moral or immoral, simple childlike minds have fewer defenses against its manipulations. Similarly, the male counterparts make ideal cannon fodder for the War Industry and Neocons. Make country girls shake the ass and make country boys wave the flag.

Country Music as a brand isn’t synonymous with rural music. New England Folk Tradition is relatively prim, sung with head held high and controlled breath, closer to the English ballad tradition. Besides, the religions up north were less colorful than Baptist denominations in the South with a higher proportion of hillbillies, bumpkins, hicks, and the like, the sort of people with lower class backgrounds in the Old World. The hierarchy inherent in the system maintained by the Southern gentry also meant more stringent class divisions between high culture and low culture, and Country arose from the latter. People who liked to take their time and were never in no hurry. Still, Country culture is intertwined with work and getting things done, even if not at breakneck pace, because farm work sure ain’t easy. It’s what distinguishes Country culture from Hippie culture that pined for the country and nature(as if they were interchangeable) and had little idea as to how much work country-living entailed; for starters, you have to grow your own food, which doesn’t fall from the sky or sit on supermarket shelves. Hippies, raised mostly in cities and suburbs, had this notion that nature, sprinkled with a bit of good vibes, would produce all that one needed. Most hippie communes depended on food brought from the outside than grown on the land. It was hard to grow much when too many were stoned, talking with trees, or diddling one another.

Country Music couldn’t have developed in a world of New England ‘Grammar Nazis’ and sticklers for detail as drawl could only have thrived in a world of relative linguistic laxness and ‘creativity’, making it sound more ‘ignorant and stupid’ but also more ‘colorful’, like Southern cooking. This also goes for Cajun French Hillbillies in the Louisiana bayou, like in the film SOUTHERN COMFORT. Even though whites in the North also developed different ‘dialects’, especially among the Italians, the greater centralization of education and media reach led to greater standardization. Indeed, Canadian whites and Northern American whites sound more alike than do the latter and Southern whites.
Rurality alone doesn’t make for ‘Country’. It’s no wonder it didn’t emerge from Mormons and the Amish. Mormons, ever status conscious, were eager to emulate their ‘betters’, the respectable and educated folks, and the Amish have always been wary of fun and good times.
Country Music isn’t tolerant on themes but is so on form and expression. God is truth but you need not be too ‘dignified’ in showing your love and devotion. It’s less embarrassed about being ignorant, down-to-earth, and even a bit vulgar as long as one hits the proper thematic notes. Amish folks could farm for a thousand years but never warm to someone like Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, or Tammy Wynette sharing their stories and feelings with an open heart.

And if the North embarked on rapid industrialization, the South remained agricultural with more of its rural and small town cultures intact. Though Folk Music Movement in the late 50s and early 60s drew influence from all across America, the themes were often intertwined with issues of labor, struggle, and social justice. A key difference between the North and South, roughly speaking at least, was the rural traditions transitioned into urban idioms in the North whereas rurality clung to Southern music. But then, northern folk styles were less ‘musical’, more about making a point than making noise. Compare “The Battle Cry of Freedom” by a Massachusetts composer to “I’m a Good Ole Rebel(or should it be Revel)”. Compare Neil Young’s preening “Southern Man” with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama”. Puritanical censure vs down-to-earth celebration. Interesting that the looser and more freewheeling style of the South developed in proximity to slavery.

Unfortunately, much of what came to be Country Music was sanitized into Family Music, much like Disney bowdlerized the darker and juicier elements of Fairy Tales to make it kid-friendly, thereby smoothing the edges of authentic folk idioms in the South. Then, no wonder that Country Music had to wait for Rockers to pump some blood back into it.
It’s also telling that some of the finest songs about small town or rural folks aren’t Country. Take Bruce Springsteen’s “The River”, the themes of which touch on issues familiar to rural and small town folks: Economic uncertainty, making do with less, a sense of being left behind. Yet, “The River” isn’t Country because of the stark element of angst and bitterness, with nothing to fall back on but the memory of youth, whereas Country is for all ages and in honor of the dead as well as the living. Though “The River” begins with a son doing like his father done, there’s little sense of connection or gratitude, just a grim sense of being caught in a socio-economic trap with no way out. One feels chained than rooted. Having a Union card simply means a steady job at best(and also implies class struggle along the lines of the documentary HARLAN COUNTRY U.S.A), but even that’s threatened by looming economic changes. The man has no sense of roots, family, or community. The only part of town with any meaning for him is a stretch of river as solace, which however is private, his alone. It’s a place of nostalgia, bittersweet in recalling what once was but also reminding of what was lost.
A genuine country song could list the same troubles but with a sense of refuge in community, tradition, and God & Country. So, even with facing tough times ahead, a man would feel whole, a part of a folk than a bundle of emotions wound up tight and haunted by betrayal. A Country song would offer some honey; it’d be tough but tough love. There would be room for grace and comfort along with anxiety and sadness. But Springsteen’s tale pares it down to dark and depressing. To be sure, it is a great song, a work of art, which can’t be said of most Country Songs, even good ones. Dark and brooding, it has the courage to stare into the abyss of alienation in a community gone stale. (Still, one wonders if it was Springsteen’s penetrating empathy or knack for soulful kitsch. Even as a faker, the Boss was a master forger at portraying the lonely side of Americana. A song in somewhat similar vein on the same album is “Point Blank”, but that’s pure soap. For wider appeal, Springsteen let in more sunshine in BORN IN THE U.S.A., wrapped in Reaganesque patriotism despite his partisan hackery for the Democratic Party. The later album THE GHOST OF TOM JOAD returned to darker themes, but the personal element was gone, along with shades of psychology, and what remained was humorless Peter-Seegerian secular sermonizing, this time in favor of open borders that have done much to undercut blue collar America, the concerns of which, as it turns out, was secondary to hobnobbing and globe-trotting with the globo-billionaire jet-set crowd as far Boss was concerned. Despite all his real talents and artistry, he proved to be industrial hype than working class hero. Since the 90s, he’s been playing blue-collar music for yuppies, the only people who can afford his ticket prices.)

Though more industrialized than the South by several magnitudes, the majority of people in the North were also country folks through most of the 19th century. But due to rapid transformation from agrarian to industrial economy, elements of rural culture either quickly adapted to urban settings or were abandoned altogether. Much simply faded away, known only to musicologists, ethnologists, and cultists. Also, due to mass immigration that had much greater impact on the North than the South, Anglo folk traditions merged with those of various ethnic groups. One tendency was to meld the diverse styles into one, but another was to reject the particularities of each in favor of a generic pop style(as ‘consensus’) that would serve as a cultural unifier of Melting Pot America. Another unifying element, paradoxically enough, was the ‘Jazz Singer’ effect whereupon whites of various backgrounds gravitated toward black-inflected music, e.g. the rival ethnic gangsters in THE COTTON CLUB(directed by Francis Ford Coppola) who frequent a musical venue of tap-dancing Negroes. Minstrel shows also united various white groups in black face. How do you tell a Jew from an Irishman from an Anglo in black face?

Essentially, rural culture in the North has faded and now exists mostly as museum pieces or cultural curiosities(usually as quaint reminders of some interest to outsiders), like a cultural center with exhibitions or dance troupe for the visitors, not much different from what American Indians do for tourists. But it’s not a living culture or a ‘vibrant’ part of national expression.

Indeed, it’s often the case that rural and small town folks even in the North look to Country Music(with southern hillbilly roots) as an expression of their cultural character than dig into their own ethnic pasts with their distinct themes and expressions. (And a Northern or West Coast urbanite is more likely to show interest in southern black blues, like with the Steve Buscemi character in GHOST WORLD, than regain knowledge and appreciation for their own distinct ethnic roots.) Whereas Northern folks either abandoned their rural culture(as irrelevant, simple-minded, or embarrassing) or profoundly adapted it to urbanity though distillation(to the point where the rural roots were hardly discernible), the element of rurality remained with Southern folks even when they caught up with industrialization and modernity.

Then, it’s hardly surprising that a rural type in Wisconsin, Ohio, or New York is more likely to identify with Nashville music than with, say, Scandinavian or German musical roots. Among Southerners, even urbanized ones, rurality came to be regarded as more than a historical phase or economic status. It became woven into the very culture of the South regardless of one’s social place. (In a similar way, even though rural life is mostly associated with grinding poverty and hardship in Northern Europe, something gratefully overcome and relegated to the past, it has richer cultural associations in Southern Europe, with tropes about cheese & wine-making and sunbaked hills. It’s telling that even though Vito Corleone dies in the megapolis of New York in THE GODFATHER, it is in a garden that could be an Edenic microcosm of Old Sicily; and Francis Ford Coppola went from film-making to wine-making as his main passion. Similarly, part of the appeal of Jewish Aliyah to Israel is cultural and historical, one where the past co-exists with modernity. The South exerts a similar appeal to whites in the North and West. Until recently(before its total collapse in 2020), it was the one part of White America that, despite transformation into modernity however belatedly, still retained its sense of heritage. It’s also why Jews were so committed to impugning Southern Heritage because they want whites severed from any sense of roots, which apparently only Jews deserve.)

Several reasons accounted for white southern culture becoming more distinct than one up north. (This is also why the Confederate Flag has gained a certain currency among Northern Folks, spreading even to some parts Europe. When Lynyrd Skynyrd sings about the ‘Southland’, it’s more than an economic community of union members of Bruce Springsteen or the small town nostalgia of John Mellencamp. It’s deeper than political or personal; it’s cultural and historical, so peculiar and pungent in the southern-themed songs of The Band, especially “The Night They Drove Ole Dixie Down.”) The pilgrim-ish culture that emanated out of New England tended to be colorless, bloodless, and moralistic. Them folks not only spoke but sang properly(if they sang at all, usually limited to hymns), making for a less musical culture. It’s like the British later drew inspiration from the Negroes because their own clipped cultural norms were fenced within manners and proprieties. Imitating the Negro, they could let things slip and slide and get loose.

Besides, a cultural bargain was necessary between the Anglos and the vast numbers of Germanic and non-Anglo immigrants. Both sides had to surrender a certain degree of cultural distinctness to merge into a ‘more perfect union’. In contrast, Southern white culture fermented in its own love/hate interpretation of America. As James Baldwin wrote, white Southerners, especially after the Civil War, developed a dual identity: A proud victorious one as part of the USA, the biggest, richest, and most powerful country in the world, and a sore victimological one as a people betrayed and defeated by them Yankees. Irish were similar as both participants/profiteers and the conquered/colonized by the British Empire.

For a long time, some observers characterized the South as hopelessly mired in backwardness and nostalgia, unable to grow or move forward, but it also implied the present was haunted by the past, which added an element of mysticism to the culture — no wonder so much of great American literature, popular and serious(Mark Twain to Margaret Mitchell and William Faulkner) is associated with the South —, much like Latin America, with its ‘magic realism’ where time is psychological and subjective than historical and objective. No wonder then the evil husband in VERTIGO uses a Latin trope of ‘Carlotta’ to draw Scotty(James Stewart) into the web.

As newly arrived European immigrants arrived in the Northeast and spread out mainly through the Midwest to the West, the White South was less impacted by demographic transformations — the biggest change prior to post-60s mass immigration was the great black migration OUT of the South — , that is until recently when the South too became inundated with browns and yellows who’ve tipped much of the region in favor of the Democrats, made worse by the newly minted Southern elites being the products of the same globalist Ivy League education(and of course anti-white Jewish Influence). Southern Whites used to stand firm against the black threat and foreign/radical elements, but they dare not go against anything protected or promoted by Jews and, like Lindsey Graham, prefer to bark at Russia, which is now more the bastion of tradition, what the White South used to stand for. Yes, care more about Ukraine(and ‘Muh Israel’) while hiding one’s head in the sand as BLM and Antifa scum desecrate Southern heritage and monuments.

White Southern music had less reason to be self-righteous and priggish because white Southerners were worried about them Negroes. After all, the moralism that ended racial discrimination made Southern Whites vulnerable to waves of black violence, no longer able to be restrained the old way. White Southern music was more about being home and feeling good than doing ‘good’ and feeling self-righteous. There was a lot of talk about God but as a figure of fear and force for tradition than an agent of social reform and salvation. The message was more about moral restraint than moral crusade, more about piety than equality, though given the backwardness of the South, many white rural white folks, the hicks, supported the Democratic Party and its more egalitarian and pro-labor agendas as long as they didn’t interfere with the racial eco-system built up after the Civil War.

And unlike Northern white folk music, white southern music had to be consciously white because the larger presence of blacks in the South. In the overwhelmingly white North, whiteness was simply a given, not something that needed identification and demarcation. In the South, anxiety about the Negroes(and their rambunctious rhythms) informed the development of white music uneasy with musical miscegenation(though, Country Music was influenced by black music, and black Rock-n-Rollers like Chuck Berry took a thing or two from Country rhythms). If Rock n Roll arose from the South as a form of musical miscegenation, with Berry duckwalking to country licks and Elvis shaking to black rhythm, Country Music marked the borders between white culture and black culture(though there were black country singers, and Nashville got increasingly more rhythmic as time went on).

Of course, Country Music had its bad boy camp, the honky-tonk wing, with roots in folk songs of rebels and outlaws, especially following the defeat of the Confederacy. But, as Country Music came to commercial viability as decent music for good white Christian folks, the edge was smoothed, and even the bad boys of Country were more like bad ole boys, or good boys playing a bit bad. Still, the success and survival of Country could not have rested on Family Values alone. If so, polka music too would have been a great success across America. Country music offered just enough leeway for individuality, personality, and maverick posturing to give it some flavor.

Though Country and Western often merged in their shared mythos of the outdoors, the ‛country‛ element proved to be more resilient. Even though rural society has long been eclipsed culturally and demographically, heritage and tradition have more generic value than adventure and movement. The cowboy theme was exciting as long as the Wild West lasted, which wasn’t for long. Western spirit developed as a moment in time, whereas ‘country’ sentiment is timeless. You can have ‘country’ without doing anything and just staying put, whereas ‘western’ material feeds on motion and drama. Country is about down-to-earth values of rural folks who don’t mind keeping it simple and loose(or a heartful reminder to any urbanite who pines for the cornfields and haystacks as the place where his folks, indeed all folks, came from).

Mexican music has a similarly lasting appeal(and limitation). It has changed far less than other musical genres/styles over the years and failed to generate interest among the fashionistas and/or the ‘cool’ crowd, but that’s precisely the recipe for its longevity. It offers a sense of assurance, familiarity, and continuity. It’s like the scene in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S where the salesman at the haute jewelry store remarks about the toy from the Crackerjack box, “That’s nice to know… It gives one a feeling of solidarity, almost of continuity with the past, that sort of thing.” Holly Golightly(Audrey Hepburn) herself was a country girl who took flight for the bright lights, but her sentimentality about her brother and ultimate wish to find the right man to take care of her suggests she isn’t as independent as she lets out.

One thing about current Mexican music(which I sometimes hear on the road) is its remarkable similarity to what it was ten, twenty, or thirty years ago. It doesn’t strive to be original, outstanding, or awesome, and that is precisely the appeal for those who seek in music a sense of ‘home’. While plenty of modern Mexicans are into all sorts of music, from heavy metal to rap to techno to whatnot, they’ve also maintained a musical village of their own, and its lack of global import guarantees a certain insularity — unlike certain genres of Black Music(and even American Country to some extent), there’s been far less ‘appropriation’ of Mexican music by non-Mexicans, except as comical effect.
Mexicans, not a very literary people, can always find a piece of ‘home’ wherever they are with their music. There certainly are lots of ‘Mexican’-language radio stations all across America, even in areas where the prevailing culture, demographic or popular, is overwhelmingly un-Mexican. Most Americans probably regard it as the stuff that lawn-mowers and dish-washers(and plenty of illegals) listen to in their free time. Despite being uprooted far from their country of origin, the sense-of-home may be bigger among Mexicans in the US than among whites with no similar sense of ‘home music’; they know House Music, which appeals to the young(and young-at-heart), whereas ‘home music’ is intergenerational in appeal, like the old-time Westerns on TV.

Likewise, Country is like a log that burns slow but for a long time, as opposed to the funeral pyres of Rock music that grabs at the moment. Greatness and/or excitement on the level of, say, the Doors “Light My Fire” is hard to sustain, whereas the generally accepted mediocrity of Country Music can be to its advantage, a Christian acceptance of nobodies than an infatuation with the great somebody. Whereas people in Country Music take pride in their humble roots and place with common folks(and often sing about it), Rock musicians replace biography with mythology, as if they were created by the gods. Some Country Music stars are huge, but the soul of Country puts them on the same plane as the fans; indeed, not forgetting where you came from is at the very heart of Country, whereas Rock stardom is about standing atop the pedestal above the masses who are less fans than worshipers.
Rock devotees are eager for the next great song or next great act, but Country fans rarely anticipate greatness and rather appreciate their music’s sense of cultural boundary, a world to call their own oblivious to the whims of fashion and the pressures of the dog-eat-dog world. In a way, one might say it’s more like baseball, rarely exciting and without awesome athletics but something one can take in as a pastime than merely a spectacle.

And Rock is often outrageous or over-the-top, like a storm or tidal wave, it’s not something one can take in stride, like fishing on a boat with friends or family in a pond or lake. Steadiness is intrinsic to Country. Dolly Parton has been a perfect embodiment of Nashville but also something more. Though one of the biggest stars of the industry, she’s the real thing than a fabrication, like so many stars, pop and country, over the years. And even though none of her songs count as great, almost all of them are solid and enjoyable. Though generally mocked as the big-boobed lady among the sophistos and urbanites, her cheerful affability is irresistible. It isn’t often that talent and personality come in one package, and Parton is one of the fortunate few. And even though some of her songs are a bit racy, they flirt with than flounder in the issues. Usually, there’s an element of regret and pathos, like in Tammy Wynette’s song “D.I.V.O.R.C.E”, more about lamentation than liberation. And immorality is often a roundabout morality to teach a lesson for the one who initiated the trouble. So, Wynette’s “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad” is as much about setting a man straight as about a woman going crooked.

Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette make an interesting pair. Wynette was the natural aristocrat of Country, just by physiognomy alone. The queen of the castle made of haystacks. Dolly Parton, for all her fame-and-fortune(and worldliness that came with it), always had about her the earthiness of a peasant girl, as if she couldn’t help saying what came naturally, with just enough manners(and wits) to keep it safe and proper, if not exactly wholesome(especially as plenty of fans were as fixated on her rack as on her act). In movies like 9 to 5 and THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS, Hollywood tried to turn her into a hayseed Marilyn Monroe(or Mae West or Judy Holliday), but her core persona was such that it just wasn’t in her to be anything more than a Country Girl. Still, her hairdo and makeup were so over-the-top, approaching a camp vision of Country, that it makes one wonder. Was she genuinely simpleminded to believe it was so very glamorous or was it a conscious exaggeration of a country girl’s idea of beauty, playing up the ‘innocence’ as a schtick, even a shameless display of pride against all the well-bred women with ‘finer’ taste? Let them laugh at her behind her back because she doesn’t care and doesn’t mind being what she is: Nouveau Riche Country Star who came from poverty. Like Don King showing off his blings. Maybe she was savvier than she let on, with a sensibility in some ways similar to the post-modernism of Andy Warhol , Michael Jackson, and madonna.

Wynette and Parton had similar socio-economic backgrounds, but their divergent developments as cultural icons demonstrate the power of personality and its relations to physical attributes. One senses Parton was born into an ideal environment, whereas Wynette was born into the wrong one, with her career serving as a subconscious way of rectifying the ‘unjust’ circumstances by infusing Country with poise and regality generally unknown to the genre. Incidentally, she is the only Country star I really care for. Later, there was Emmylou Harris, but at one of her concerts she nagged on the kind of folks who use the word ‘nigger’, and I had no use for her since. What’s the point of being a redneck if you can’t even say the n-word? It’s like telling rapper he can’t say ‘faggot’.

On the downside, Country’s longevity owed to a certain complacency, a lack of urgency and rather low expectations, which doesn’t do much for creativity. (Blues, though formally limited, dealt with grittier emotions, adding to its power and depth. Jazz, passive/aggressive in its flashy elusiveness, was bound to grow in slick sophistication. Pop thrives on novelty, the hit parade, and Rock was open to all ideas. In contrast, Country was too self-contented and self-contained to lurch forward unless dragged like a mule, but then, it wouldn’t have been Country if it had committed to ‘progress’.) Under such circumstances, it generally lacked the edge and daring of other musical forms.

In a way, one could say Blues is a kind of Black Country Music as it’s also steeped in rural origins(and never lost it), what with Negroes sitting around blowing a worn harmonica and strumming a broken guitar, lamenting about picking cotton all day while da honkey done sit around sipping lemonade.
Despite its rustic and humble origins, it soon left its mark on urban culture in the way that Country did not. Once white country folks became urban denizens, many of them became embarrassed to be associated with Hee Haw music, whereas many urban Negroes stuck with the Blues and related forms. Furthermore, many whites(and Jews), especially sophisticates, who wouldn’t be caught dead with Country Music, became fascinated with the Blues, not least in Great Britain.

Blues, though clearly seedier than Country, share some similarities. Though Bluesmen often flaunted their bad boy creds like a badge, regret and pathos clung to the music. Both Country and Blues are informed by the fear of God. Much of Country Music is God-fearing, and even the blasphemous in the Blues carries the Mark of Cain, i.e. it is aware of its fallenness and the heavy price down the line of the Faustian bargain: “I done gots my bucket of chicken but Devil’s gonna burn my ass in hell.”
For reasons that may be historical and/or racial, Blues music lacks the complacency of Country, lending it greater appeal to the urbanites who relish the element of challenge. There’s an element of struggle, within and without, the stuff of tears of rage than mere sentiment. Perhaps, this owed to black history of slavery and racial discrimination(and being called ‘nigger’ by ‘crackers’), whereby Negro sensibility got packed with its share of angst, which came in handy as musical coal.

On the other hand, the black musical form that comes closest to Country in feel is Reggae, and it too has an air of complacency, but it caught on even more among many white sophistos and hipsters, even serving as the basis of some of the biggest hits for Sting(and the Police) and Men-at-Work. Then, perhaps there’s a musical quality to black raciality that is appealing to whites. (Granted, Country and Reggae are complacent about different things. The former is sure of its creed, the latter of its weed.)

It’s rather odd that, despite rural whites and rural blacks being socio-economically closer to one another than either group to wealthy white urbanites and sophisticates, the latter developed a closer cultural affinity for blacks whose musical expression, especially in Blues-Jazz-Reggae(and Afro-Pop in Europe), serves as status markers for the ‘educated’ class. Take the movie BLUES BROTHERS with John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd. There’s a scene where the band does a gig at a Country Bar but, upbraided by the local-yokels, shifts from rhythm-n-blues to country-n-western. The thing is whereas black music(and community) is treated with sympathy and respect, the white clientele and Country culture are mainly spoofed and ridiculed(though not too nastily as in our ‘woke’ era), also partly true of NASHVILLE by Robert Altman. (The Nazis are the top villains in the movie, but if any people had a powerful musical culture, it was the Germans… before the ignominious fall. By the way, where’s the lie in the statement, “The Jew is using the black as muscle against you.”)

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  1. Ramblin’ prose.

    • LOL: Tono Bungay
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    , @Ese M
  2. Unmoored, friend. Trying to explain something by virtue of relations to other (also unmoored) won’t work.

    “Country/Western” was the relation between sacred & profane keeping alive the yearning for a better place, but politely trying to avoid conflicting definitions. Texas Methodists and renegade Baptists at the German Singing Society dance hall (Lutherans or Catholics) all needed a little elbow room. Romantic love was the stand-in, but there’s not ever NOT acknowledgement of life being difficult.

    Might be more useful to trace what recordings were big since the 1920s and why. It wasn’t all rural. Move to the big city and be confronted with the non-Protestant “immigrants” (versus having been pioneers) was enough of a shock. Music crosses boundaries fairly well and “genre” is a Jew-thing (targeted marketing).

    That’s the wrong stepping-off point.

    “Country” may as well be that what’s east of the Mississippi, and “Western” that what’s from there to California. The former is inner-directed in appeal, the latter is outward-looking. Mother Maybelle ain’t really danceable, but Bob Wills (Texas Playboys) could, “take an old song, and make it swing” such that Jimmy Rodgers crosses the gap.

    As always, it’s instrumentation and arrangements. Violin (fiddle) and piano are basics, but not easy to record faithfully until the late 1950s. One has an ear for how they sound (familiarity) or not. Excitation of spirit in the lower key public (profane, versus sacred) is at heart. How “we” feel, and not the cult of performer (comes later). It’s an interlude outside time. As we’ll have to get back up, still exhausted, and carry on.

    Look to standards which thrived under new arrangements. “Under the Double Eagle” (the Austro-Hungarian Imperial March) is a case-in-point.

    1). By a military band
    2). By a symphony orchestra (Erich Kunzel at Cincinnati)
    3). By a Western Swing band (Milton Brown)
    4) By the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

    Gaiety. Being carefree. A swirl of familiar faces and strangers deemed welcome. Wills and the Playboys had a few of the greatest-selling recordings of the WWII era. “Something borrowed, something blue”, as Negro or Mexican influences to be heard.

    1). Franz Liszt, Liebestraum, by your favored pianist
    2). Wills straight big band version.

    “America” freed instruments to reach the potentials of their voice.

    But as with so-called popular music the post-1964 immanence of electricity as master versus servant (bound fatally to television) changes influences from immediate to what Hollywood says.

    The period of Merle Haggard and then the last gasp (Willie Nelson in mid-1970s) is the tail-end. Hank Williams gets a revival about that time which carrys over to his addled sons. (Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, etc., among them).

    Merle’s performance at Austin City Limits in 1978 is to the point of where old & new part ways.

    There are outliers past that (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band circa 1986 in, “Will the Circle be Unbroken”; Ricky Skaggs vocal), but the trend has long been towards teenage girls driving the market. The boys sorta follow along (same ones revere George Strait along with Jimmy Buffet).

    Voices and performance that bridge the gap have been led by Emmylou Harris since the 1970s. There’s not greater talent at work (as with Sinatra). Her collaborations with Dolly & Linda Ronstadt are an open door for anyone (“To Know Him”; or, solo, “Save the Last Dance). Girls have their own. This lady provides that voice. She has no male counterpart.

    — After the band packs up and the dancers depart, the doors get locked and the remnant congregation fire up guitar, banjo, piano or what’s at hand. Gospel and hymns become a backbone till daybreak as they’re what was earlier missing. American patriotic songs we learned in school, sang at church. Wyoming or West Virginia.

    No spark left untended till the fire is well and truly out. We know Whom it is we owe.


    • Thanks: CelestiaQuesta
    • Replies: @Greta Handel
  3. Trinity says:

    Dolly Parton is a recent inductee to the Rock and Roll hof. Her big crossover hit was in 1977/1978, “Here You Come Again.” Like another crossover artist and Rock hof inductee, Linda Ronstadt, the later Dolly appealed to all kinds of music lovers. “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You”, two of Parton’s classic hits have been covers by several artists. And don’t forget Elvis could do country music as well. Areas in upstate New York like Port Jervis, Middletown, Newburgh, etc., had plenty of juke joint honky tonk bars. I saw one of the worst barroom brawls ever break out when a Hank Williams Jr song broke out. Also biker gangs like the Outlaws and Hells Angels like old school country like Johnny Paycheck & David Allen Coe.

  4. Now, I like Flyover Country Deplorables, and am almost kind of one myself. But here’s a country song from about 30 years ago by Charlie Daniels that kind of illustrates why they are easily misled. Lyrics are in italics.

    What this world needs is a few more rednecks
    So people ain’t afraid to take a stand

    When did Heartland whites take a stand in the past 30 years? I must have missed that. But, from Channon Christian to Ashli Babbitt, I wished that they would have.

    What this world needs is a little more respect
    For the Lord and the law and the workin’ man
    We could use a little peace and satisfaction
    Some good people up front to take the lead

    Good people up front? Like Linsey Graham, Dick Cheney, and Tom Cotton?

    A little less talk and a little more action
    And a few more rednecks is what we need

    That’s about all the white working class has received is talk, lip service, empty promises. And that was 20 years ago. In the past five years it hasn’t even been that, just scorn.

    I was raised on beans and cornbread
    And I like my chicken fried

    See, these people aren’t rootless cosmopolitans. They have a heritage and culture. That’s a good thing.

    Yes, I drive a pickup truck
    And I’m full of American pride

    They have been so damn proud of America while the federal government has been shitting on them all along.

    I keep a Bible on my table

    Reading the Bible is good. Just not the Scofield bible that has given America the Israel-centric foreign policy that it has been saddled with.

    I got a flag out on my lawn

    You can’t think clearly when your mind is burdened by mindless patriotism.

    And I don’t believe in mindin’
    No one’s business but my own

    Deplorables aren’t busy bodies on a personal level. But they sure have supported America sticking in nose in everyone’s business around the world.

    And I love them Rambo movies
    I think they make a lot of sense

    More military worship that enables the MIC and bi-coastal foreign policy “experts”. And heartland conservatives don’t have much to feel good about themselves, so I guess they comfort themselves in their “service to their” country. That and the Vietnam vets don’t want to admit that the whole thing was a folly with nothing to show for it.

    And it’s a shame ole John Wayne
    Didn’t live to run for president
    And I don’t care what nobody says
    I don’t trust ole Gorbachev
    And I don’t know who turned him on
    But it’s time to turn him off

    This kind of thinking has caused problems all over the earth – unnecessary deaths and wasted treasure. Life is not a western movie. You don’t really need to have bad guys in black hats. And now billions of American dollars and too many Ukrainian lives are being wasted because of “goddamned Russians.” And don’t the Hollywood movies glorifying war just perpetuate the war machine? As does the endless “tribute to the troops” and other military worship.

    Now they’re tryin’ to take my guns away
    And that would be just fine
    If you take ’em away from the criminals first
    I’ll gladly give ya mine

    No arguments here.

    And I don’t mind payin’ taxes
    But it makes my temper itch
    When my hard earned money goes
    To make some politician rich

    Then why did so many people from Tennessee to Texas support the waste of tax dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Syria and …

    What most people call a redneck
    Ain’t nothin’ but a workin’ man
    And he makes his livin’
    By the sweat of his brow
    And the calluses on his hands

    And there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Now you intellectuals may not like it
    But there ain’t nothin’ that you can do
    ‘Cause there’s a whole lot more of us common-folks
    Then there ever will be of you

    What good did rednecks’ critical mass do them? Subversive Jewish “intellectuals” (and self-loathing white “intellectuals”) did take over the positions of power. And they appear to be out to crush the white working class rednecks. And, do you know what these so-called intellectuals would say to us here in flyover country? “There ain’t nothin’ you can do.”

    And I don’t even know if Charlie Daniels believed the words that he sang.

    • Agree: Black Maggot
    • Thanks: CelestiaQuesta
    • Replies: @Trinity
    , @CelestiaQuesta
    , @Mac_
  5. Trinity says:

    Mexicans are the rednecks of Hispanics. Shout out to the late Freddy Fender. Old school country was great, this new shit sucks ass.

  6. bwuce wee says:

    well, that’s 15 minutes of my life i will never get back. if this was printed, it would be a BIG waste of paper!

    • Replies: @Ese M
  7. @SteeringWheelHolder

    You’ve outlined a good, provocative essay.

    Has any columnist here known so little about so much – and shown as tin an ear for music – as Jung-Freud?

    • Agree: Chris Mallory
  8. Trinity says:
    @Sir Launcelot Canning

    The South is full of pretentious soft hand twits who never did a days work in their life like Bill Clinton and Lindsey Graham. Hell, Atlanta probably has as many gay bars as San Francisco. A white traitor trash Southerner is even more repulsive and phony than the Yankee version and almost as slimy as the serpent Jew.

    Rich upper crust White Southerners are more often than not ashamed of their Southern roots and will put on an over the top ass kissing bonanza when a Jew Yawk or Bastard, Masshole Yankee comes to visit their plantation. Rich White Southerners have exploited the poor, both Black and White almost as much as the carpet bagging Yankee shyster or reptilian Jew.

    Poor and working class Southerners for the most part are some of the most ignorant people on earth when it comes to the White Christian hating Khazar/Jews unfortunately. The Jew hates White Southerners probably worse than anyone with the exception of Russkies, Germans, and Arabs/Persians, and yet these poor Southerners have been brainwashed to love and fight and die for anti Christ Khazar/ Jews. Talk about pathetic.

    • Agree: Black Maggot
    • Troll: Chris Mallory
    • Replies: @CelestiaQuesta
  9. He left out the modern sub-genre of country music, the country rap, in which white trash rap about their country values (drinkin’, muddin’, grillin’, wavin’ flags, oglin’ the fillies, smokin’ weed) while tattooed whores twerk, dance, and present themselves for mounting as they sport string bikinis in a rural setting. Might as well be their urban counterparts with a little whitewashing, courtesy of our benevolent culture (whore) masters in the music industry and media at large.

  10. Trinity says:

    Wild Horses by the Stoooooones was definitely “country.” Leon Russell and Wet Willie both had a country vibe as well.

    John Denver was another crossover artist who I considered a country artist.

    Cue: Country Roads. Love that tune.

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
    , @G. Poulin
  11. Completely ignorant and wrong about everything. I don’t know–read a book.

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  12. Trinity says:

    Patsy Cline was probably the first country artist who had crossover appeal to different audiences. What a voice for the ages.

  13. @Sir Launcelot Canning

    There hasn’t been a real protest song in a long while, especially a song that called out (((real enemies and criminals))), and God forbid you mention anything against GlobalHomo.
    Should someone one day write this song, and make it heartfelt, and make it strong, would anyone listen? would anyone care?

  14. Trinity says:

    Cue: The Night They Drove Ole Dixie Down by Joan Baez

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  15. @Trinity

    This is what happens when Jews infiltrate American society using white aryan culture to make fun of us, pushing their image of dumb American rednecks.


    • Agree: Trinity
  16. anon[216] • Disclaimer says:
    @Greta Handel

    Under-rated comment.

  17. @obwandiyag

    Ignorance is true to the spirit of country.

    • Replies: @obwandiyag
  18. @Trinity

    Interesting it was a time when a leftist could sing that was sympathetic to the South. But then, it was a time when not all Germans in Hollywood WWII movies were total villains and monsters.
    Back then, a leftist could disagree with some view but still empathize with it. Or, it could appreciate something as fine music or great art even in ideological disagreement.

    Things are different now. Even Lynyrd Skynyrd decided to scrap the Confederate flag at their concerts. Such pussies.

    • Replies: @Trinity
  19. @Trinity

    Wild Horses by the Stoooooones was definitely “country.” Leon Russell and Wet Willie both had a country vibe as well.

    It is Country in form and style but not in feel. It was clearly influenced by Country, which was becoming somewhat vogue with Dylan, Byrds, and others going rustic around 1968 with the hangover from psychedelic excesses. But Stones being Stones, there’s nothing simplistic, let alone ‘innocent’, about their expression. The spirit is closer to hipster bluesy(or beatnik).
    Likewise, Janis Joplin also took from Country, but her soul, like that of Eric Burdon of the Animals, was too possessed of the daemonic to do Country straight. Her finest song(by Kris Kristofferson) “Me and Bobby McGee” is Country in rhythm but bluesy in feel. Or at least, it’s more an outlaw song than about community. (As such, it is closer in spirit to American folk music before Country became formulated by Nashville. Raw and gritty.)

    Both “Wild Horses” and “Bobby McGee” are almost post-(personal)-apocalyptic in feel. They convey defeat with pangs of despair but bordering on nihilism that promises a new kind of liberty without duties and responsibility. Perhaps influenced by Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”.

  20. 6000 words, just to show you know nothing about Country Music or the Rural South.

  21. @CelestiaQuesta

    Jews infiltrate American society using white aryan culture


  22. Well as much as I would like to read a good essay on music here, a six thousand word treatise is not what I’m looking for.

    Anyway, The Ghost of Tom Joad is the best album that Springsteen has made so far. However that is more folk than country. And even though pure country is too goddam pop I am not a fan of, there are some nice ballads but the only country I listen to are the Country Funk records of the late sixties – early seventies.

    Listen to this – Hip Hop was invented by a white dude!

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  23. Lynard Skynard is a greater country band than 95% of today’s carefully groomed pop country artists. Which as an earlier poster mentioned is about promoting a rural rap equivalent lifestyle of drinking, trucks, and hoes.

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  24. @Here Be Dragon

    Listen to this – Hip Hop was invented by a white dude!

    If we wanna go that route:

    • Replies: @Here Be Dragon
  25. Trinity says:
    @Priss Factor

    I doubt the original lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd would have caved like lil’ brother.

    Interesting that Billy Idol was always seen sporting the Confederate flag back in the day. The Confederate flag is a beautifully designed flag indeed. Was always a Billy Idol fan so cue a double shot on two for Tuesday.

    Cue: Eyes Without A Face & Flesh For Fantasy by Billy Idol

  26. G. Poulin says:

    Love it, too — but it was written by a Yank from Massachusetts who was ignorant of the fact that the Blue Ridge Mountains aren’t in West Virginia.

    • LOL: Trinity
    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  27. I always like that video of Hank floating down the Cumberland River on a coal barge. And did you know that he has reworked it for the BLM era?

    I finally learned how to tell time
    But it don’t matter cause I live a life of crime
    My hair be black and my skin be brown
    And I mug old ladies when I go downtown.
    I live up in the hood you see
    Wit my granny and my mammy but no daddy.
    I got a 40 ounce of Colt and some Newport Lights
    cause a colored boy can survive.

    I play baxetball all day long
    Then I sell heroin from dusk to dawn
    We pimp our little sisters and our babymamas too
    Dey only be a few thangs these homeboys can do.
    We drink Thunderbird and Night Train wine
    and a colored boy can survive.

    Cause you can’t starve us out and you can’t take our food
    Cause we just got our EBT card reloaded, dude.
    We say “bitch” and we say “ho”
    If you like dat shit just axe fo some mo.

    We come from Detroit and Flint, Michigan
    and East St. Louis, and out in Compton.
    Yo baby dindunuffin so don’t start cryin
    cause a colored boy can survive.

    I met a white girl from Salt Lake City
    She had a big booty and itty bitty titties.
    She was lost in the hood and needed directions
    But my homey just wanted to give her affection.
    Den she shouted and screamed and made too much noise
    and said, “Sorry but I don’t go for colored boys.”
    So she was killed by my friend and his switchblade knife.
    Cause she wouldn’t give it up dat gal lost her life.
    I spit some grape pop in my friend’s eyes
    and took of runnin when the police arrive
    cause a colored boy can survive.

    We’re from Camden, New Jersey and West Birmingham
    and bad ghettos all around this land.
    And we would like to skin yo cracka hide
    cause colored people can survive!!!

    • Thanks: profnasty
  28. @Priss Factor

    Haven’t heard that one.

    Yes it has rap but it doesn’t have a beat, so it ain’t Hip Hop. On the other hand, it is eight years older than my track. So alright.

    We can take it into account.

  29. @G. Poulin

    John Denver looks like Kermit the Frog. ‘Country Road’ is a nice song but country pop than real Country. Still, very nice.

    Still, I prefer Bread and America to Denver. Open guitar licks of ‘Ventura Highway’ is real special.

    • Replies: @Hacienda
  30. Ese M says:
    @bwuce wee

    Agree. That was 5,000 words about music he doesn’t listen to.

    • LOL: JimDandy
  31. I could only bear to skim this grossly overweight mess, but it looked to me like our erstwhile author is living about 2 generations of country ago. He also apparently thinks that you can’t be country if you moved to the city, or something.

    Maybe I missed it but he missed the obvious essence of country music: it’s folk wisdoms. That’s where it comes from and where it still is. And, just like its black counterpart: r&b, country’s got a lot of heartbreak stuff in it.

    You know? Just like r&b? Because those themes are common and of interest to regular white and black people. They are universal not outdated and not any different really than they always were 100 years ago.

    You are very effete. It’s an affliction.

  32. Trinity says:

    My personal top 10 country songs
    1. Kentucky Rain by Elvis (believe it was written by Eddie Rabbit, so damn it, it makes it country enuff.)

    2. Crazy by LeAnn Rimes cover is even better than original by legendary Patsy Cline

    3. If Loving You Is Wrong by LeAnn Rimes, yes this chick does covers as good as Linda Ronstadt. This song has been covered by just about everyone from Luther Ingraham to Barbara Mandrell to Rod Stewart.

    4. Jolene by Dolly Parton

    5. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry by Hank Williams

    6. Amanda by Waylon Jennings

    7.Suspicious Minds by Dwight Yoakum, Dwight goes country with one of Elvis’ classics

    8. Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues by Elvis, again covered by many and written by Willie Nelson, so if this ain’t country I’ll kiss your ass.

    9. Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver, again country enuff.

    10. I Never Promised You A Rose Garden by Lynn Anderson

  33. the white clientele and Country culture are mainly spoofed and ridiculed(though not too nastily as in our ‘woke’ era), also partly true of NASHVILLE by Robert Altman. (The Nazis are the top villains in the movie,

    Here’s where I’d put an endnote about Henry Gibson being both the Illinois Nazi leader and the unctuous country music “star” in Nashville.

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  34. @James J O'Meara

    Still, following the shooting, he is shown to be a man of steely spine and not just hot air. He stands with pride and grit when so many are panicked. At his best, Altman could be an artist. He dealt with caricatures but could unpeel the humanity within.

  35. @Priss Factor

    No it isn’t. You’re ignorant and wrong, too.

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  36. Here is all ye need to know:

    Hank Williams Senior, good.
    Hank Williams Junior, bad.

    And the grandson isn’t bad, considering.

    • Replies: @Pat Kittle
  37. My top ten of Real Country would probably be all Tammy Wynette.

    But I prefer the country-ish songs by rockers.

    Lay Lady Lay, Everybody’s Talkin’, Sugar Magnolia, Brown Eyed Woman, The Weight, Landslide.

    URBAN COWBOY tried to do for the honky tonk scene what SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER did for disco. Not a bad movie and good use of music, especially ‘Looking for Love’. (Italian Travolta and Jewess Debra Winger were terrific in it. So the was menacing Scott Glenn.) And the songs of Cady Groves. What a pity she died so young.

    Are mechanical bulls still around?

    • Replies: @A. Hipster
  38. @obwandiyag

    Does bongo music require much fancy book-reading?

    • LOL: Trinity
  39. A little history lesson for you rubes:

    Once upon a time in the early 20th century, there was no “country music.” There was no “blues music.” There was just music. American music. It was folk music, but nobody called it that, least of all its practitioners. Then the phonograph arrived. Record companies formed. For demographic marketing purposes, they needed to compartmentalize and distinguish between black and white markets. And so they called the American music they marketed to whites “hillbilly,” and later, “country and western,” and they called the American music they marketed to blacks, “blues.” Both were the exact same music. Don’t think so? Listen to the Memphis Jug Band fiddlin and banjo-in and yodelin, and listen to Dock Boggs sing “Country Blues.”

    You rubes get paid to write such drivel? I could write you under the table with a bellyful of corn and you with a headstart and a thesaurus.

  40. saggy says: • Website

    Couldn’t read the article because it seemed dismissive of ‘country music’, so as an antidote to that nonsense here’s some real country music, course, I’m from WV ….

    • Replies: @Pat Kittle
  41. JimDandy says:

    Hank Williams, Sr. is an absolute giant. In a category all by himself. This is a non-controversial statement of fact.

    I said to Hank Williams, how lonely does it get?
    Hank Williams hasn’t answered yet
    But I hear him coughing all night long
    Oh, a hundred floors above me in the Tower of Song

    L. Cohen

    • Replies: @anon
  42. Mac_ says:
    @Sir Launcelot Canning

    In my perspective the question is less whether people would listen or care, it’s the practical in that people make mistake of allowing monopoly, and feeding it, including factions of supposed government such as ‘fcc’ dictating who uses the airwaves or not, and also those in control of web, and people over-relying on web, or tevee, or now phones, as the only means of communicating, so monopolists direct what is seen or not.

    The longer this has gone on, people are influenced with oppression whether they know it or not. Even seemingly ‘good’ or supposed expose ‘shows’ are oppressing because it’s putting energy into their plastic boxes, so keep ‘watching’ instead of put our energy around us, focus where we live. For instance could write a song, play it on street corner, have the words on small paper notes to share if people if they like it, or sell a cd for a few dollars. Or just sing to share and give notes to remember and pass along. There are ways to get around their mass media choke hold schemes. At some point even basic sharing may not be an option, so is good to think of things while able which shares energy, and because it cycles back to us, meeting and sharing between real people, in real life, instead of wasting it on plastic box cons steering us down their hole.
    – Also spot on comment Sir Launcelot.

  43. @Priss Factor

    Are mechanical bulls still around?

    loooks like they are …. song/video from a country artist, the song is not exactly country but the artist has a legit background

    Cauthen grew up in a religious household. His father was a song leader in the conservative Christian Church of Christ, and his father’s twin brother was the preacher there. Cauthen’s father and uncle sang as a musical duo in church. Cauthen has said that the church he grew up in did not allow instruments, so the focus was on a capella singing of what he called “heavenly highway hymns, the old hymnals”, but that if he was active in the church, he would be a fifth-generation song leader/preacher.

    Cauthen has said that his family is from Texas on both sides. His grandmother’s family was from West Texas as well as part of New Mexico because her father sold drill bits for oil wells. Cauthen’s father is a fifth-generation Texan via Montgomery, Alabama, where Cauthen’s paternal grandfather went to school with Hank Williams

    Cauthen has sung duets with this masked gay cowboy country artist

    well maybe that ain’t country either, reminds me Lana Del Rey in that the videos might be more interesting than the music.

  44. dimples says:

    Jung-Fried seems to have left out Old Timey, although it isn’t a singin’ genre. And what about them Texas Jew Boys? Don’t this classy band rate a mention?

  45. @CelestiaQuesta

    Baron Cohen was actually funny during his Ali G days, also coincidentally the time he would never mention being Jewish. Then he became a bitter fundamentalist who seemed to believe himself being persecuted and bearing the pain of his poor persecuted people, and he ran out of ideas. My how they grow up so fast.

    • Replies: @James J O'Meara
  46. Southie says:

    Music is like candy it tastes better without the (w)rappers.

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  47. I grew up with country music, it was very popular amongst South African whites. There was even an Afrikaans country scene during the 1980’s. I was off course too cool for country during the run-up to my teens. I did get bowled over by Cowboy Junkies, a Canadian group who had a hit in 1989 with the Lou Reed song Sweet Jane. They did a lot of traditional music, and had the eccentricity of always recording their albums in churches. I was surprised that one of their earlier albums was called whites off the earth, sounds kind of social justice like, oh well. I remember in my first job after school, I was the only white guy. Imagine my surprise when the blacks played music on a boom box at work and the first tape they played was a greatest hits album by Dolly Parton, that was about 1994.

  48. Have mom or another trusted grown-up edit these pieces.

  49. Trinity says:

    Country like rock turned to shit sometime after the early 2000s.

    The 1990s and early naughts had some good tunes particularly by female country singers.

    Post 2005-2006 most music is pure shit.

    Cue: My Maria by Brooks and Dunn

  50. It’s possible Country Music produced better movies that most music genres. Maybe it’s because Country Music is so much about storytelling, It has one-on-one rapport with life, like musical soap opera, or Grand Ole Soap Opry.


    A borderline Rocker who took Country elements and made it real personal, the stuff of cold-sweat dreams is Roy Orbison.

    And Ricky Nelson was adept at turning country-and-western idioms into pop. His ‘Teen Idol’ is one of my all time favs. ‘Travelin Man’ is fine too.

  51. Some songs are Country, and some songs are Countric. It’s really pop with with notable Country flavor.

    “Kings of the Road” is countric.

    “Rainy Night in Georgia” is like countric soul. Oddly enough, the hit version by Brook Benton the Negro makes it more countric than soully than the original version by white guy.

    For some reason, “Rhinestone Cowboy” makes me think of LBJ and Bill Clinton’s sexual peccadillos. (It sort of sounds like Sloop John B.)

    • Replies: @Trinity
  52. “…despite the natural(and even a bit vulgar) side to Country(once even set against urban bourgeois repression)…”

    This hurts my eyes. Please add a space before (and not just after) your parentheses.

  53. Trinity says:
    @Priss Factor

    Rhinestone Cowboy always makes me think about the movie, “Midnight Cowboy.” Cowboy heads to New Yawk and struggles in both song and movie.

    Cue: Everybody’s Talkin’ by Harry Nilsson

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  54. “North to Alaska”
    — (Johnny Horton, 1960 – with lyrics)

    — (

  55. @Trinity

    I read Bob Dylan approached John Schlesinger to offer “Lay Lady Lay” for MIDNIGHT COWBOY. It is a greater song than “Everybody’s Talkin’” but it’s hard to imagine a better tune for that movie than Nilsson’s wonder.

  56. @saggy

    Damn me for witnessing such heartfelt lamentations and wondering if those are her nipples.

    Anyway here’s more in the same dark vein:

    “Dark As A Dungeon” – Merle Travis:

    — (

  57. anon[147] • Disclaimer says:

    just what we all need,
    lines of cohen rubbish.

    • Replies: @JimDandy
  58. Sparkon says:

    Here’s a delightful blast from the past with a country edge, because I don’t just cue ’em, I play ’em.

    Jeannie C. Riley – Harper Valley P.T.A. – 1968

    Riley was the first woman to hold the Number 1 spot on the pop and country charts at the same time.

    You talk about a gorgeous woman with a great voice –
    Jeannie C. Riley (b. 1945).

  59. JimDandy says:

    To show how even people like him lick his boots. Idiot.

  60. nsa says:

    Country mostly sucks, so dive deeper into the white trash pool. Rockabilly: anything by Carl Perkins. Try Matchbox for some raucous uptempo white trash soul. Another rockabilly classic: Johnny Burnette’s pounding Train Kept A Rolling was covered by the mod Yardbirds for the arty movie Blowup. Bluegrass: try Roy Acuff’s Great Specled Bird for some ethereal hill country white trash soul.

    • Replies: @anon
  61. Chet Atkins, Bobby Bare and Anita Kerr Singers in Oslo, Norway in 1964


  62. First-rate countric pop:

    “Poor Side of Town” is one of me favs.

  63. @obwandiyag

    “The Log Train” — Hank Williams Sr. (with lyrics):

    — (

  64. Hacienda says:
    @Priss Factor

    Ventura Highway is a special highway. It’s the one that the great California musicians in 60s must have taken. Laurel Canyon, Studio City to the coast.

    I’ve got a lot of great memories of that stretch. And that’s just by driving on it.

  65. A great countrickish song

    • Replies: @Trinity
  66. Trinity says:
    @Priss Factor

    On The Road Again by Bob “Sea-gar” is another “countrickish” song.

    Had a roomie from Michigan while stationed on Governors Island in lower Manhattan. We picked up two broads at The White Horse Tavern and they couldn’t decide if my gypsy ass was a local or a “foreigner” but they claimed my Michigan drinking buddy stuck out as a country bumpkin.

    Cue: Streets Of Baltimore by Bobby Bare

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldlan
  67. Trinity says:

    Oops my bad. The Seger tune is, ” Turn The Page”, not ” On The Road Again”, right lyrics, wrong title or is that right plane wrong airport.

    Cue: Keep On Smiling by Wet Willie

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  68. @obwandiyag

    “The Old, Weird America.” This of course was Harry Smith’s thesis, which he assembled his Anthology of American Music to demonstrate, mixing “white” and “black” 78 recordings. This kicked off the “folk music” fad, whose lasting contribution was Bob Dylan, though songs from Smith’s anthology continue to be covered by a wide variety of acts — eg., Nirvana.

    Add to that the Depression, which wiped out the record companies and thus the careers — such as they were — of all these black and white artists. The only economically viable music was, ironically, big band jazz, broadcast over the radio from hotel ballrooms, which thus became “America’s Pop(ular) Music” by default. Postwar inflation then wiped out big bands, leaving only small combos — hence, R&B and R&R. Just like dinosaurs and mammals.

    Unemployed big band arrangers switched from piano to the new Hammond organ, added drums and one other instrument, and went on the road: the “organ trios” people mock in lounges across America in the 50s-70s. Add a singer, and you have Bill Murray’s SNL lounge lizard character. Fun Fact: what was the last big organ trio? The Doors.

    It’s almost as if economics is an important factor.

  69. @James of Africa

    It seems genetic, like the various stages of the Xenomorph in Alien. They all eventually “discover” their roots and become raging, ranting Zionists. Perhaps it’s really an act all along?

  70. @obwandiyag

    One reason “black” music became popular with White kids is that recordings intended for the “black” market were less regulated; no one cared what they sang about. So there were lots of songs — actual recordings, released and sold — about sex, drugs and guns. Sort of like the filthy “comedy” records of Red Foxx, Moms Mabley, Pigmeat Markham and others who re-emerged in sanitized forms in the 70s. (Laugh In, etc.)

    It’s like in The Godfather, where they decide to let drugs be sold, but only “in the darker parts of town”, since the bleks “are just animals, let them lose their souls.” That’s also how Greenwich Village became the HQ of degeneracy: Italian widows would rent apartments to anyone, and didn’t care what you did, since non-Italians were just animals.

    It’s funny to hear public or college radio hosts lament “America’s racist past” as exampled in “race records,” since that was in fact the only reason black culture, such as it is, survived; otherwise it would have been amalgamated into pop in general and disappeared.

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  71. @Trinity

    Kenny Rogers went from hard rock to pop. He countrified some pop songs.

    His ‘Lady’, composed by Lionel Rich, was a hit.

    Milsap wasn’t much but ‘Any Day Now’ is irrestible.

    A Spanish-lingo song that became a country standard

    • Replies: @Trinity
  72. Sparkon says:

    Country, C&W and Western Swing formed a significant part of the music of my youth, and now that I’ve started, I’ll restrict myself to just one year, way back when, and focus once again on that amazing, Upside-Down Year of 1961, the year of our host’s birth, and many other strange and exciting events, along with some really great music.

    Leroy Van Dyke – Walk On By

    Patsy Cline – I Fall To Pieces

    Johnny Horton – North To Alaska

    Each of these songs hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs in 1961, and “I Fall To Pieces” was the #1 C&W hit for the entire year, with Horton and Van Dyke scoring #17 and #18, respectively.

  73. Trinity says:
    @Priss Factor

    Lionel Richie wrote a few of Kenny Rogers hits. I think he also wrote, “She Believes In Me”, which was always a favorite of mine. Rogers/Ritchie collaborated on some real belly rubbing music in the early 80s that probably helped more than a few cowboys get lucky for the night. Last call for alcohol and the girls get prettier at closing time.

    Cue: Last Dance by Donna Summer & Take Me Home Tonight by Eddie Money rip.

    Milsap? Always liked Smoky Mountain Rain

  74. @James J O'Meara

    One reason “black” music became popular with White kids is that recordings intended for the “black” market were less regulated; no one cared what they sang about.

    But even clean black music was plenty popular, like Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole, Platters, Ben E. King, etc.

    Blacks have a certain voice and rhythm.

    In the 70s, some of the gentlest music was black but huge hits.

    And even though Sam Cooke died like a crazyass Negro, his music was pretty clean.

  75. I really enjoyed Blake Shelton’s tribute to Gwen Stefani,” That Bitch Pussy Sure Do Stink!”😊

  76. @Trinity

    The later you found out they had dicks?

    • Replies: @Trinity
  77. Trinity says:
    @Bardon Kaldlan

    Cue: Dude Looks Like A Lady
    This was the eighties friend and Tee Tee was only down with the ladies.
    Cue: Wild Thing by Tone Loc

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldlan
  78. Sparkon says:

    Well, this is weaving a little off topic and into some swampy territory, so I’ll take the opportunity to play another set, go way back, and get this ghost herd back on track.

    Stan Jones and The Death Valley Rangers – Ghost Riders in the Sky -1948

    If that didn’t raise goosebumps, this might tug on some heartstrings…

    Jim Reeves – Welcome To My World – 1963

    “Johnny Get Angry” is a different song, and a good one, but not country. Now check Cash checking out.

    Johnny Cash – Understand Your Man – 1964

  79. anon[305] • Disclaimer says:

    Mean Mary on video. The greatest Country treasure ever. I guess she wouldn’t play ball with the satanists who make decisions in the musice industry.

  80. TLDR. I grew up country but prefer classic rock to this day. Still, anybody who cannot appreciate Merle or Old Possum is suspicious to me. All the best country music was made by the mid 80s. Anybody who still wants to listen to country should track down where the Bluegrass festivals are being held.

    Step right up. Come on in.

  81. @Trinity

    Just kidding.
    Cue: “He Ain’t Heavy,He’s My Brother”!😉

    • Replies: @Trinity
  82. Trinity says:
    @Bardon Kaldlan

    Cue: I Was Only Joking by Rod Stewart

  83. Sparkon says:

    There’s a whole raft of great country tunes I could spin up right now for your enjoyment and edification, and once again nudge things back on topic, which is one we don’t have many chances to talk about and enjoy here at Unz Review.

    Since there’s obviously a lot of keen fascination with Baby Boomers at UR, I sometimes call it envy, along with Boomer Bashing, and certainly a lot of self-proclaimed Boomer experts these days, who (think they) know more about Baby Boomers than the Boomers themselves, I will start this set with one of the first Real Big Things that were a shared experience for many Baby Boomers in the ’50s – the Davy Crocket Craze in 1955, sparked by the TV show with Fess Parker, and the worldwide smash hit “The Ballad of Davy Crockett”.

    Bill Hayes – The Ballad of Davy Crockett – 1955

    I never got nor even wanted one of those coonskin caps but plenty of my pals did. I thought they looked goofy on everybody but Crockett himself, and I know what he looked like because I saw him on TV, doncha know. Uh huh. Keeping with the theme of country story-telling…

    Hank Williams – Kaw-Liga – 1953

    And let’s close it out with a shoot ’em up…

    “To the town of Agua Fria
    Rode a stranger one fine day…”

    Marty Robbins – Big Iron – 1960

  84. dude, why did u write this ignorant article as it’s obvious u hv no idea what’s good or bad in country music? Geez!!!!

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  85. Tertius says:

    “Besides, for various reasons, Country Music is associated with West Virginia,” ??

    I’m a Mountaineer born and raised. I’d love to claim the crown of country music, but I know Kentucky and Tennessee are at the head of the line.

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