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It was raining the day mama picked me up from prison
February 2, 2006 7:11 AM   Subscribe

So You Think You Hate Country Music? Then listen to this. The roots of American country music may surprise you. In this series of NPR programs, trace the gradual development of real country music through the first half of the 20th century. Learn how a woman's instrument of the late 1800s, the parlor guitar, became the the central symbol of country and rock; see how African-American musical forms like gospel and blues meshed with the development of country and early rock and influenced the traditional forms in turn; listen to German-Mexican hybrids of accordian style; find out why women had so many honky-tonk torch songs to sing in the late 40s. The series contains hours of content (narrative, interviews, music tracks), and a multitude of excellent links for deeper digging.
posted by Miko (111 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, modern country music is just pop music, which I hate.
posted by wakko at 7:15 AM on February 2, 2006


Just about all recorded country music is at least somewhat pop, wakko. Don't pine for a purity that hasn't existed since the dawn of recordings and radio. And much of the best country (Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Buck Owens and others) was derided as pop fluff in it's heyday by many.
posted by jonmc at 7:19 AM on February 2, 2006


Well, modern rap music, modern rock music, and modern R&B music is all pop too. So it's not like it's alone in sucking these days.
posted by wakko at 7:24 AM on February 2, 2006


wakko, what I'm saying is that it was always to some degree pop, like everything else, and that's not a bad thing neccessarilly. I like punchy choruses and emphatic melodies. But today's pop has beome so mechanisitic that there's no sense of the nuance that is of such importance, so you are correct there.

(to underscore my point about all country having pop in it: the king of gutbucket country, Merle Haggard, has cited none other than Bing Crosby as a major influence)
posted by jonmc at 7:27 AM on February 2, 2006


Most of what passes for country music on the radio today is just Britney Spears type bubblegum pop with a twang.
posted by caddis at 7:31 AM on February 2, 2006


Wow, great post. Thankyouverymuch.
posted by COBRA! at 7:33 AM on February 2, 2006


"mall country", as opposed to "alt-country". Bands like Lyle Lovett, Sun Volt, the Old 97's, etc, could all be classified as Country in a broad enough taxonomy, but they're nothing at all like Toby Keith or Shania Twain.
posted by jonson at 7:35 AM on February 2, 2006


The problem lies with the tight control the record industry seems to have over this genre. If there are good alt-country or whatever you want to call it songs that I might like please do post about them here. MeFi is a good music resource.
posted by caddis at 7:35 AM on February 2, 2006


Despite references to different influences, it seems that country music still originated from the mountains. I thought perhaps they over stated the influence of black culture on its earlier years, if only because frankly, there simply were not many african americans living in the mountains. Not enough, I would think, to make a significant influence on the music traditions. After the music came out of the mountains, then I would expect a much larger contribution.
posted by Atreides at 7:36 AM on February 2, 2006


That's what I meant by losing a sense of nuance, caddis. And Britney lacks the subtlety and sense of fun to even be good bubblegum, but that's a whole other argument. But suffice it to say that there are still some bright spots: the Dixie Chicks are often times good, Deana Carter has a few good singles, and if I listened to the radio anymore, I'm sure I could find a few more.
posted by jonmc at 7:36 AM on February 2, 2006


Why is it called country when it's roots and branches are frankly southern?
posted by IndigoJones at 7:39 AM on February 2, 2006


I hate all music. I even hate birds. Sellout tweet tweet tweet bullshit by horny hollow boned wankers just looking to score.

Nice link.
posted by srboisvert at 7:41 AM on February 2, 2006 [3 favorites]


there simply were not many african americans living in the mountains. Not enough, I would think, to make a significant influence on the music traditions

To some extent that's true, but the influence of black music on even mountain music is really underestimated. In the plantation South, musical ideas were passed back and forth between the black and white communities with great frequency, to the point that it becomes very hard to distinguish who influenced who. The Appalachian fiddle tradition is distinct from European Scottish and Irish traditions partly because of rhythmic and melodic influences from African-American fiddling and melody construction. The banjo itself was developed from a West African model often called a 'banjar'. The more you look at the pre-recorded-music period, the more the cross-pollination begins to stand out. Mountain music developed in relative isolation for a few decades after the Civil War before being revived by the early record scouts, but it would never have become country without the other influences of city, river, coast and other non-mountain culture.

(In fact, it still hasn't become country -- it continues to be performed and played today as 'old-time country'.
posted by Miko at 7:41 AM on February 2, 2006


musical ideas were passed back and forth between the black and white communities with great frequency, to the point that it becomes very hard to distinguish who influenced who.

This is true. and is still true today. People who make music generally listen to a lot of music too and absorb influences like a sponge. That's where it gets most interesting, at least to me. The whole alt.country vs. mall country stuff is just cliquish background noise to me.

(and oh yeah, good post, miko)
posted by jonmc at 7:45 AM on February 2, 2006


I hate all music. I even hate birds. Sellout tweet tweet tweet bullshit by horny hollow boned wankers just looking to score.

Yoink!

Nice post, interesting discussion. As a tip of the hat, I'll now listen to the only "country" representation in my current playlist: Barbara Mandrell's "Sleepin' Single in a Double Bed" and Juice Newton's "Playing With the Queen of Hearts." Maybe a little John Denver while I'm at it.
posted by Gator at 7:48 AM on February 2, 2006


there simply were not many african americans living in the mountains. Not enough, I would think, to make a significant influence on the music traditions

Also, there's a lot of blues in mid-century country music; I've seen an entire Hank Williams compilation dedicated to just his blues songs. And a lot of Johnny Cash's early stuff is structurally just 12-bar blues.
posted by COBRA! at 7:51 AM on February 2, 2006


thanks for the post.
some great links to explore...
posted by dan g. at 7:52 AM on February 2, 2006


The music I listen to is so indie, I don't even listen to it. Because if I listened to it and liked it, then I'd tell other people, and the band could maybe get popular. So beat that cred, mofos.

miko: Totally freaking awesome post. I'll be listening to this all day.
posted by billysumday at 7:54 AM on February 2, 2006


Best post of today, thank you!!! (just because I'm loving a bit of alt-country at the mo)

Over here Someone like Shania Twain is what the 12 year old mum listens to and her gran listens to Patsy Cline. Northern Ireland loves it's country (at least that was my experience from woring in a local record store anyway).

Music that I consider alt-Country and cool (and please correct me if I'm wrong or if you know better music in a similar vein):

Clem Snide, 16 Horsepower, Two Gallant, Jim White, Broken Family Band, Golden Smog, The Gourds, iron and Wine
posted by twistedonion at 7:55 AM on February 2, 2006


country = hick emo

Zing!
posted by slimepuppy at 7:58 AM on February 2, 2006


country = hick emo

no, country guys can actually write hooks. and they dress better.
posted by jonmc at 7:59 AM on February 2, 2006


If there are good alt-country or whatever you want to call it songs that I might like please do post about them here. MeFi is a good music resource.
posted by caddis at 10:35 AM EST on February 2 [!]

Except for the fact that I love alt-country, I hate alt-country. Don't listen to that crap (except that some of it is great and you should listen to it). Listen to this crap, and get ready to have your balls rocked off.

On a non-ridiculous note, this was a great post Miko, and I will spend a lot of time exploring it today. Thank you.
posted by ND¢ at 8:01 AM on February 2, 2006


Sorry: this crap. I have really been losing at Metafilter lately.
posted by ND¢ at 8:04 AM on February 2, 2006


Bob Luman's original of "Lonely Women Make Good Lovers" is a masterpiece and should not be covered, ND¢.
posted by jonmc at 8:06 AM on February 2, 2006


As long as the kids are getting the message that:

Once a woman's tasted love, she can't do without
She'll search for something more
When she gets cold
And if her lips are wet with wine
When it comes to lovin' time
She'll trade her pride for something
Warm to hold


then my work is done.
posted by ND¢ at 8:09 AM on February 2, 2006


The country apple fell FAR from the folk tree.

Country : folk
as
Velveeta : milk.
posted by basilwhite at 8:14 AM on February 2, 2006


basilwhite: there is no such thing as 'folk' music. Quite frankly, there's no such thing as 'folks.'
posted by jonmc at 8:15 AM on February 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


there simply were not many african americans living in the mountains. Not enough, I would think, to make a significant influence on the music traditions

Also, there's a lot of blues in mid-century country music;


I remember reading an article somewhere once that asserted the "distinction" between blues (trad blues, mainly performed by black people) and country (mainly performed by white people) was artificially imposed, representing yet another manifestation of racism. (No miscegenation, please, we're Americans.) Like how record promoters of the 1930s (?) felt the need to invent this category called "race records."
posted by scratch at 8:15 AM on February 2, 2006


I like both kinds of music, country AND western.
posted by keswick at 8:16 AM on February 2, 2006


I was drunk the day my Mom got out of prison,
And I went to pick her up in the rain,
But before I could get to the station in my pickup truck
She got run over by a damned old train.


-- Steve Goodman, "You Never Even Called Me By My Name", the Perfect Country and Western song, as performed by David Allan Coe
posted by ivey at 8:16 AM on February 2, 2006


Awesome! I just sent this to my favorite country-influenced irish-style bluegrass punk band, Lonesome Jack!
posted by jrb223 at 8:27 AM on February 2, 2006


Anyone that likes the roots of country should check out the Anthology of American Folk Music if they haven't already. Great post! I love early country music.
posted by Falconetti at 8:33 AM on February 2, 2006


Alt country these days seems to refer back to roots music. I think real country fans are sickened by what passes for country these days. Real country old time music still exists though. Try some Slim Cessna's Auto Club on for size. Gospel influenced down the road yodeling and smart lyrics about God, Self and nary a mention of trucks. And believe it or not they are being promoted by none other than Jello Biafra!
posted by Gungho at 8:52 AM on February 2, 2006


"I hate all music. I even hate birds. Sellout tweet tweet tweet bullshit by horny hollow boned wankers just looking to score."

Well, I hate all sounds. All that longitudinal rarefaction and expansion of packets of air molecules getting off on each others collisions touching each other and compressing our eardums . where have they been? those molecules were touching each other in an unclean way. I tell ya. I feel dirty.....when I was a lad, we diddnt have this filthy longitudinal stuff: oh no. we were too poor. we could only afford transverse waves. and we were happy. kids these days. bah!
posted by lalochezia at 9:01 AM on February 2, 2006


Jonmc you are so right " People who make music generally listen to a lot of music too and absorb influences like a sponge"
Seeing the Chieftans jamming with Chinese folk musicians or the incredible semi-deaf percussionist Evelyn Glendinning, there is clearly a language at work here that is instinctive.
One of the more bizarre things about Ireland is how popular country has always been, but so much early country is influenced by Irish and Scottish music that I think it is almost a rebound effect or a recognition of similarity. When it wasn't hip or cool to listen to the old Sean Nos singers or fiddlers (cos that just meant poverty) the weekly ballrooms of romance echoed to Johnny Cash sound alikes.
Cattle feed in Ireland was marketed with country music!
posted by Wilder at 9:10 AM on February 2, 2006


miko-

An excellent, excellent post! Thanks.

I actually think that the cross-fertalization between black and white musicians in even the mountains is the thing that is under-represented. In part because social history has a hard time tracking very poor whites and very poor blacks, and in part because a musical generation can be quite short. Bill Monroe was quite clear about the essential contributions of black music to bluegrass, and yet he was very much from the mountains and his exposure to African-American musicians wasn't all that extensive.

I guess my point is that quantity=/=importance. For someone who cares about music and has been hearing the same songs played much the same way by the same people in the same hollow, one novel method or treatment may open up a whole world of possibilities.

Also, where is realcountrymusic (I know he still lurks occasionally.)
posted by OmieWise at 9:14 AM on February 2, 2006


From a musician's point of view, nothing beats country, old AND new. The ability displayed in this type of music is incredible to say the least. I spent years playing nothing but blues, R&B and the like. For the last three years, our band has been playing straight country with a focus on "new" country. As far as I can tell, we're one of a few bands in the city who don't feel like we're "selling out" when we cover a Gretchen Wilson or Brooks and Dunn song.

There is definately a warped sense of pride in bands that tout themselves as "authentic" country. What the hell does that even mean? Anything recorded after the year ______ isn't authentic? If you're not wearing a alcala cowboy shirt and a bolo tie, it's somehow isn't keepin' it real? Give me a fucking break.

Granted; some new country is complete shite (as is the case with any genre) but if you look beyond the tree and wander the forest for awhile, there's some incredible music being made, right now, that is just as valid as your daddy's old Merle Travis 78s'
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:24 AM on February 2, 2006


I was drunk the day my Mom got out of prison

I knew I should have looked that up. My haphazard memory grows more unreliable by the year.
posted by Miko at 9:28 AM on February 2, 2006


BTW, Miko - Thanks for the post. Everytime a country thread pops up on Mefi, I always remember my first run-in with Jonmc. Good times.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:32 AM on February 2, 2006


The term "country" music is really so broad to almost not signify anything except for race. After being the white version of the blues, it also became the white version of rock and roll, at least until a bunch of English teenagers (and Buddy Holly) came along. It's always sounded to me like a lot of the early George Jones and Hank Sr. songs are just the white versions of Fats Domino and Little Richard songs.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 9:46 AM on February 2, 2006


The story of Maddox Brothers and Rose is great.
posted by destro at 9:48 AM on February 2, 2006


I also remember from some Elvis documentary about the early radio stations in Memphis (and apparently throughout the South), how they would play old-time country and blues and gospel music back to back without regard to any particular format.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 9:55 AM on February 2, 2006


jonmc reminds me of the fading drunk punk outside every dive bar in the Lower East ranting about 1982. Get over it, man. Hank Williams was never Gene Autry.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 9:59 AM on February 2, 2006


I do believe that listening to country music is undisputable evidence that you need to be on Prozac.
posted by spock at 10:07 AM on February 2, 2006


I’ve got bizarre country tastes. I think the only artist I consistiently like is Johnny Cash. Although his live Ghost Riders with Willie Nelson is fan-f’ing-tastic.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:07 AM on February 2, 2006


Hank Williams was never Gene Autry.

And Gene Autry was never Hank Williams either. I'm the one saying get over the labeling and just enjoy the music. It's all the "I only listen to old/authentic country," qualifiers that bug me by fetishizing some vague notion of 'authenticity,' that somehow results in (admittedly very talented) oil heir Townes Van Zant getting higher points that genuine rednecks Lynyrd Skynyrd. And plenty of country artists who are embraced by self-styled in-the-know audiences (Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn) today were rejected in their prime by their historical counterparts.
posted by jonmc at 10:07 AM on February 2, 2006


I'll admit Patsy Cline can belt out a tune too.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:08 AM on February 2, 2006


And Loretta, Dolly, Patsy, Tammy and Kitty Wells can outsing (and are more feminist) than any of the sorority sob sisters of the lillith fair/womyns music/indie chanteuse brigade.
posted by jonmc at 10:09 AM on February 2, 2006


Fuck all them stupid hat acts.

Here's where it's at: (or a good place to start)

BOB WILLS & THE TEXAS PLAYBOYS
LEON MCAULIFFE
JOHNNY CASH
WILLIE NELSON
HANK WILLIAMS SR.
CHET ATKINS
WAYLON JENNINGS
ERNEST TUBB
MERLE HAGGARD
BUCK OWENS
GRAM PARSONS
LORETTA LYNN
PATSY CLINE
ROGER MILLER

That is all.
posted by stenseng at 10:10 AM on February 2, 2006


I do believe that listening to country music is undisputable evidence that you need to be on Prozac.

Country music, the music of pain.

/ObBuffyRef
posted by Gator at 10:11 AM on February 2, 2006


fuck chet atkins and his nashville sound :)
posted by The Jesse Helms at 10:14 AM on February 2, 2006


but godamn if he wasn't a snazzy dresser
posted by The Jesse Helms at 10:14 AM on February 2, 2006


Yeah, I get tired of 'hipsters' saying they listen to "some country", meaning Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, etc. because they are supposedly 'authentic', or country that you can listen to and still be cool, while all other country is just pop for rednecks. Those artists are all great, but I will personally fight anyone that disputes the fact that Dolly Parton is the greatest mind of our generation or any other. Also: Don Williams. Look it up kids. Don Williams.
posted by ND¢ at 10:14 AM on February 2, 2006


The country apple fell FAR from the folk tree.

/Listens: to the Carter Family
/Listens: to Alison Strauss

Funny, it doesn't actually *sound* like it fell very far at all.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:19 AM on February 2, 2006


Chet Atkins was a guitar GOD.



AND a snazzy dresser.
posted by stenseng at 10:19 AM on February 2, 2006


Right on, ND¢. Dolly has more charisma is her little toe than most artists have in their whole family lineage.

I should clarify what I mean by saying that country was 'always pop.' I mean that the artists didn't fret about authenticity or false stanadards nearly as much as some people here are. They wanted to be popular and sell records for people to listen to and enjoy not become dusty museum peices for people to scratch their chins thoughtfully over. That dosen't mean that I don't recognize that there are differences in the level of commitment and quality between musicians. It's just that some of the statements here are eerily similar to those of the folkies who went apeshit on Bob Dylan for plugging in his guitar.
posted by jonmc at 10:20 AM on February 2, 2006


Chet's a hell of a guitar player, THJ. Listen to the stuff he did with Les Paul.
posted by jonmc at 10:20 AM on February 2, 2006


If nothing else, Dolly Parton gets eternal love for being hilarious (and there's actually plenty else; I love a lot of her music). Just the other day, I saw some interview with her where she talked about how she was up "making grits like a hillbilly" or something along those lines when she heard a song of hers had gotten an Oscar nomination this year,
posted by COBRA! at 10:21 AM on February 2, 2006


ROGER MILLER

Roger Miller?

En-ger-land swings like a pendulum do?

How the fuck did he get in there?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:22 AM on February 2, 2006


PeterMc, Roger Miller is a brilliant songwriter with a great laconic voice. and is funny as hell. "Where Have All The Average People Gone," and "You Can't Roller Skate In A Buffalo Herd," are among the funniest tunes I know.
posted by jonmc at 10:23 AM on February 2, 2006


YEAH ROGER MILLER. ROGER FUCKIN' MILLER.





ROGER FUCKIN' "OH YOU CAIN'T ROOLER SKATE IN A BUFFALO HERD" MILLER


You got a problem with that?
posted by stenseng at 10:24 AM on February 2, 2006


Fuck all them stupid hat acts.

Hey! Now you're gettin' on the fightin' side of me. You can drink my beer and kick my mule, but lay offn my hat, dammit.

Also, where is realcountrymusic

Seconded. C'mon, rcm, you know you can't resist this!

Anyone that likes the roots of country should check out the Anthology of American Folk Music


Also seconded. And that reminds me of one of y2karl's great musical posts: Race/Music: Corrine Corrina, Bo Chatmon, and the Excluded Middle. Oh, and—duh—here's his equally great Harry Smith post.

When I first moved to NYC, my best friend was a guy who grew up in Bed-Stuy and was always getting annoyed because people expected him to like Motown/soul/rap when all he wanted to listen to was Hank Williams and the other country greats; his mother was from South Carolina and played that music all the time. He was pissed when WHN switched to a sports format in 1987 and became WFAN (I, on the other hand, was thrilled, because it broadcast all the Mets games).

Magnificent post, Miko.
*doffs wide-brimmed hat with sweeping gesture*
posted by languagehat at 10:26 AM on February 2, 2006


But look at that list, jonmc.

Would you really put him alongside Hank Williams, Bob Wills, Patsy Cline, Ernest Tubb, etc?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:26 AM on February 2, 2006


You got a problem with that?

Yup. He sucks.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:27 AM on February 2, 2006


Or rather, he sucks if England Swings and Rollerskate are representative examples of his work. I can't admit to having heard anything else.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:29 AM on February 2, 2006


So you've never heard King of the Road?
posted by stenseng at 10:31 AM on February 2, 2006


If you dis Roger Miller, you dis yourself. That man could do things with his voice that no human being should be able to do. It's like he had a distortion pedal built into his voicebox.
posted by COBRA! at 10:32 AM on February 2, 2006


PeterMc, are you the last person on earth who hasn't heard "King Of The Road?"

When I first moved to NYC, my best friend was a guy who grew up in Bed-Stuy

I was at an Ozzy signing in manhattan, and met these two young black girls who told a similar story related to their metal fandom. Sever R&B/Blues musicians have admitted growing up watching and listening to the Grand Old Opry. Radio and TV waves cross regional and neighborhood boundaries especially for people who are simply passionate about music.
posted by jonmc at 10:33 AM on February 2, 2006


Indeed. And you, Peter McDermott, merely have a do-wacka do-wacka do-wacka do.
posted by stenseng at 10:33 AM on February 2, 2006


He's a man a means, by no means
posted by InfidelZombie at 10:36 AM on February 2, 2006


but he can be happy if he's a mind to. ;>
posted by jonmc at 10:37 AM on February 2, 2006


Chicken ain't chicken till it's lickin-good fried.
posted by COBRA! at 10:38 AM on February 2, 2006


Believe it or not.....for the past 2 weeks when I'm DJ'ng.
I've been playing Country music side-by-side with some old
Reggae music...and it works.
posted by doctorschlock at 10:38 AM on February 2, 2006


I'm not surprised.
posted by ND¢ at 10:43 AM on February 2, 2006


OK, I've heard King of the Road as well.

Still sucks.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:45 AM on February 2, 2006


I can't believe no one's mentioned George Jones. His voice just runs up your spine and grabs the part of your brain devoted to loss and longing and squeezes it until you take a shot of whiskey just to make it let go.

Also, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings and anything they touch or even just think about are pure magic.

(jonmc- if emo kids can't write hooks, why has the chorus from Sugar We're Going Down by Fallout Boy been fighting it out in my head with the chorus from Helena by My Chemical Romance for, like, a year? It's still making me completely insane. That's the definition of a hook if I ever heard one.)
posted by cilantro at 10:55 AM on February 2, 2006


There is plenty of good country music still being made as has been noted in this thread. The problem is that Nashville pop has usurped the name country and pushed other acts, which would are closer to the original country sound, into other categories. So if you look in folk or "alt country" you find good country acts still carrying the banners.

Go listen to Townes van Zandt, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, Lucinda Williams, Bruce Robinson, and the like. Most of time these acts are still playing and putting out great authentic country music. But these acts are often not classified as such. They are given modifier names.

In my opinion, the best country-influenced music coming out these days is coming out of the Texas-Oklahoma corridor where the music is more along the lines of "outlaw country' that blends in rock elements. Bands like Mike McClure, Reckless Kelly, and Jack Ingram.

In the end, you can classify country music however you want to include (or exclude) different sounds. In my opinion, there is much vitality and authenticity in Country music. It's just that none of it is coming out of Nashville.
posted by dios at 10:55 AM on February 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


I should clarify what I mean by saying that country was 'always pop.' I mean that the artists didn't fret about authenticity or false stanadards nearly as much as some people here are.

I don't think anyone fretted much about "authenticity" until the folk/blues revival of the early 60s. Sure, it was a good time if you consider how many old blues musicians were "rediscovered" and introduced to wider (white, record-buying) audiences, but that I think is when the modern snob concept of "authenticity" was born.
posted by scratch at 10:56 AM on February 2, 2006


I will personally fight anyone that disputes the fact that Dolly Parton is the greatest mind of our generation

uh oh
posted by caddis at 11:00 AM on February 2, 2006


I can't believe no one's mentioned George Jones. His voice just runs up your spine and grabs the part of your brain devoted to loss and longing and squeezes it until you take a shot of whiskey just to make it let go.

I wouldn't recommend that as a permanent solution. It sure as hell didn't work for George.
posted by scratch at 11:00 AM on February 2, 2006


cilantro - I've never heard either of the tunes you mentioned, so I can't really comment on them, but from the emo I've heard, they can't even approach the hook-writing of the Brill Building guys or Nashville Tunesmiths, whatever other mysterious charms they might hold.

And country singers do dress better than emo kids. Maybe if the emo kids started wearing cowboy shirts and stetsons and boots, they'd get laid more and have less to emo about.
posted by jonmc at 11:01 AM on February 2, 2006


and George Jones is one of the great voices of our time. or any other. anyone who disagrees has no soul.
posted by jonmc at 11:02 AM on February 2, 2006


You guys already kind of went there, but the thing I liked most about country, when I used to listen to it years ago, was it didn't take itself very seriously. A lot of it was downright funny.

That's something I think we could use a lot more of in music. Mainstream pop in particular takes itself so damn seriously... and without much reason.

I dunno about Dolly Parton being the greatest mind of her generation, but she's really funny, which obviously makes big points with me. My favorite quote of hers:

"I'm not offended by dumb blonde jokes because I know that I'm not dumb. I also know I'm not blonde."
posted by Malor at 11:03 AM on February 2, 2006


Thank you dios.
posted by caddis at 11:04 AM on February 2, 2006


I'm glad to find that Dios and I have *something* to agree on. =)
posted by stenseng at 11:09 AM on February 2, 2006


My favorite Dolly Parton quote was something she said to Johnny Carson when he asked if her breasts were really hers:

People always ask me if they're mine. Yes, they are...all bought and paid for.

And people say she's just a big pair of tits.
posted by ND¢ at 11:30 AM on February 2, 2006


Psst, cilantro - jonmc doesn't like any music produced after 1980, including emo, which makes for a poor accompaniment to his daily meals of Meat, Potatoes and Budweiser.
posted by you just lost the game at 11:30 AM on February 2, 2006


Thanks for mentioning 9 of my favorite artists, dios. They are all truly extraordinary musicians.
posted by green herring at 11:31 AM on February 2, 2006


actually, it's 1994, you just lost the game. (I've heard some occasional new stuff that's not too bad, belive it or not). Emo is still lame, though. I also had neither meat nor Budweiser (sadly) with my lunch. I did have some potato chips, though. ;>
posted by jonmc at 11:36 AM on February 2, 2006


green herring: your welcome! Of course, you live in Austin, so that doesn't suprise me that you would like those artists. I'm sure you get as much (if not more) opportunities to enjoy them live down in Austin... yet another reason why I love that city.
posted by dios at 11:37 AM on February 2, 2006


dios-yes, I am very spoiled and cherish every moment of it!
posted by green herring at 11:40 AM on February 2, 2006


I'm just busting your balls, jonmc. But I think you're missing out on some good music, some of which you'd probably even like. That said, there is way more music out there than any of us can possibly consume, and we all draw the line somewhere.

/ great post and discussion, btw
posted by you just lost the game at 11:42 AM on February 2, 2006


I'm just busting your balls, jonmc. But I think you're missing out on some good music, some of which you'd probably even like.

I know. People on MeCha who know my tastes have been pointing me towards new stuff. And in return I shower them with stuff from the depths of my vaults.
posted by jonmc at 11:46 AM on February 2, 2006


jonmc, you should listen to reckless kelly or Ray Wylie Hubbard's last several albums. Take a little Townes, add in some Lightnin' Hopkins and a little Waylon Jennings and then a touch of good hard rock and roll (13th Floor Elevators!) and you get their sounds. It's not ground-breaking or original. But its just damn good music.

Though, I will agree with your comment about nothing good coming out since 1994 on the Billboard charts. I haven't heard much I like there either. But I think the artists like James McMurtury, Steve Earle, and the others I have mentioned in this thread have been putting out some quality music (even if it isn't timeless or successful).
posted by dios at 11:46 AM on February 2, 2006


I saw McMurtry live just a few months ago, dios and I've got stuff from most of the people you mention. I'll keep an eye peeled for the Hubbard.
posted by jonmc at 11:48 AM on February 2, 2006


Let me throw my hat into the ring and say that Johnny Dowd is well worth checking out, both live and on record. Not exactly "country" music, but often similarly-themed, and he rawks.
posted by you just lost the game at 11:52 AM on February 2, 2006


Fyi - On Ray Wylie's very odd website, you can listen to some of his music off of one of his recent albums that had a strong dirty backwater blues influence. It's all flash-y and weird, but the jukebox thing is cool, in my opinion.
posted by dios at 11:53 AM on February 2, 2006


And for one point: to listen to the jukebox on that site, you need to turn off the background music and click on the radio link on the right. It is buggy, but you can get it to work and listen to a whole album.
posted by dios at 11:54 AM on February 2, 2006


A friend gave me a copy of Too Long in the Wasteland years ago-- I was very impressed with how McMurty puts his songs together. Great stories. I need to catch him live sometime.
posted by InfidelZombie at 11:55 AM on February 2, 2006


He is at his best live, in my opinion. I don't find him as compelling in the studio.
posted by dios at 11:56 AM on February 2, 2006


Also check out americanroutes.org as they do weekly shows based on this premise.
posted by green herring at 12:07 PM on February 2, 2006


It's just that none of it is coming out of Nashville.

Then you're just not listening very well. While I'd agree with 98% of your earlier mentions, you kinda shot yourself in the foot with that statement.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:11 PM on February 2, 2006


Modern country is more rock than modern rock. Go figure.

Though rock should just die already any which way.
posted by HTuttle at 12:41 PM on February 2, 2006


(Although if you don't like Dwight Yoakum, you're a pinko commie loser with no taste.)
posted by HTuttle at 12:43 PM on February 2, 2006


/Still waiting for dog, wife, and house to come back.
posted by bardic at 12:57 PM on February 2, 2006


Backside Of Thirty
By John Conlee

Makin' money at 30 with a wife and a son
Then a short 5 years later, it all comes undone
She's gone back to mama with the boy by her side
Now I'm wine drunk and runnin' with them on my mind

I'm on the backside of thirty and back on my own
An empty apartment don't feel like a home
On the backside of thirty, the short side of time
Back on the bottom with no will to climb

It's dawn Monday mornin' and I just called in sick
I skipped work last Friday to drink this month's rent
And when my friends ask me I tell 'em I'm fine
But my eyes tell the story that my lies can't hide

I'm on the backside of thirty and back on my own
An empty apartment don't feel like a home
On the backside of thirty, the short side of time
Back on the bottom with no will to climb

posted by ND¢ at 1:06 PM on February 2, 2006


Anyone who'd like to learn more about the cultural history and origins of country music would do well to check out any of the books by Bill C. Malone, especially Country Music USA and Don't Get Above Your Raisin'. Also good, and covering more of the alt.country spectrum, is Reid's The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock.

A lot of country fans and some country musicians get hung up on "authenticity." But that's true in any genre. I've heard plenty of rants about who's punk and who isn't, who's a poser/lover of false metal and who isn't. I think the only people imune from the authenticity trap are those who only like pure pop music.

I rock, jazz, and country (some old, some new, and a lot of alt). You really have to take it on an artist-by-artist basis. I'm happy to finally be at the point, at least with respect to music, where I like things just because I happen to like them, w/o the need for some justification based on authenticity or whatever. 90% of everything is crap. But you can't sift the crap from the non-crap just by choosing one genre over another.
posted by wheat at 1:30 PM on February 2, 2006


I second the Dwight Yoakam and would like to throw Emmy Lou Harris in the discussion. I love her voice and her music.
posted by whatever at 2:01 PM on February 2, 2006


Gotta admit a weakness for Nanci Griffith. And Allison Krauss cannot be a mere human.

I like some of Lyle Lovett's stuff too. (You gotta love a song with a chorus that goes "To the Lord let praises be. It's time for dinner now, let's go eat! We got some beans and some good cornbread, now listen to what the preacher said."
posted by spock at 2:39 PM on February 2, 2006


"Though rock should just die already any which way."


Them's fightin words. Rock and Roll will NEVER DIE.
posted by stenseng at 2:49 PM on February 2, 2006


Go listen to Townes van Zandt, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, Lucinda Williams, Bruce Robinson, and the like.

Bruce Robinson! Yes! But don't hate on Charlie Robison just because he's managed to break into the CMT Top 20. "Sunset Boulevard" and "My Hometown" are good country beyond words, and Charlie's live shows just flat out rock (and if you ever get a chance to see him do a solo acoustic show, don't pass it up.)

Also, Mando Saenz.
posted by Cyrano at 6:31 PM on February 2, 2006


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