It is a sad day for modern country music. This is coming from a guy who loves a good banjo, steel guitar, harmonica and twang of any sort. I love the sound; I love the feel of quality country music. And that is why it saddens me so much to hear modern country music. For the last six years I have been listening to Whiskeytown, The Jayhawks, Ryan Adams, Jay Farrar, Son Volt, Wilco and others because music actually classified “country” is abhorrent to listen to. Let me explain.
Country music used to have real men like Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Lyle Lovett and Johnny Cash. These men you would actually believe grew up in the country and worked hard for a living. In the last 10 years country music has made a joke of itself, and if I were a country music artist, I would be embarrassed to be a part of it. These new country artists live in their mansions in Nashville, have never worked a day in their lives and sing about NASCAR, watermelons and women. The songs range from cheesy to cheesier, no one bothering to attempt anything that hasn’t been done before. It’s hard to tell one song from the other. The men sing in the same “speaking more than singing” voice trying to sound like they grew up on the ranch. It truly is a sad day for country music because there is no room for innovation and unfortunately the Blue Collar Comedy Tour has had a direct effect on the market all too much. Now people think it’s somehow “cool” to be a hick (which I would define as “an unintelligent man or woman with no social graces and no desire to better themselves in any way or sometimes take a shower”).
If you don’t believe me, let’s look at some chart toppers in the last few weeks of “popular country.”
“Redneck Yacht Club,” Craig Morgan
“Do You Want Fries with That,” Tim McGraw
“Alcohol,” Brad Paisley
“Play Something Country,” Brooks & Dunn
“Fast Cars and Freedom,” Rascal Flatt
“If French Fries Were Fat Free,” Alan Jackson
“Burnin’ the Honky Tonks Down,” Burning the Honky Tonks Down
“Honky Tonk U,” Toby Keith
“Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),” Big & Rich
And last but not least: “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” Trace Adkins
Go ahead and say that one out loud. Better yet, go say this to a friend, “Hey, man, you should check out ‘Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,’” and see if he doesn’t punch you in the face.
How can the country music industry continually put out such ridiculous garbage? It makes me wonder who they are marketing to and selling CDs to. Where is this insane market of bad music lovers coming from? I am unable to find an answer.
Even the CD covers lack creativity. Look at the front of any CD—I seriously mean ANY CD—and it will be a picture of the artist with some country scenery in the background. Come on, guys, can’t you do better than that? That’s a serious question! This is getting ridiculous.
So for all of you who love country music but can’t seem to find any worth listening to, or for those who aspire to be country music artists, here are a few suggestions for the country music industry.
How can country become “true country” once again?
Enough with the white trash clichés.
People are tired of hearing about trailers, French fries, NASCAR, cooking on your grill, drinking alcohol and sleazy honky tonk women. Start writing songs about semi-intelligent subjects, anything but what you’re doing now.
Get creative! Start innovating, trying new instruments, trying new voices.
Country music is not limited to a man or woman with a Southern accent who can’t really sing but only speak on the record. It is also not limited to a CD cover with the artist on front. Try a new mix in the studio. Bring down the vocals and put more attention on the music. Let’s try new things!
We need young blood in the market that can change the identity of this music. Someday, sadly enough, Keith Urban, Tim McGraw and thankfully Alan Jackson are going to die. We need young stars (not Dierks Bentley) to fill the shoes, to be young country innovators that change the scene of country music as we know it and take it to a place it’s never been.
Shut down CMT.
Don’t move to Nashville.
This is where things usually go wrong. You start to look a certain way, sing a certain way and do anything else it takes to get a record deal in Nashville. If you have to move somewhere, go to Austin, New York City, L.A. Good country music can and does come out of these places.
Who are some country music artists worth listening to? I don’t even know anymore. Why don’t you tell me? Post some good artists so we can all check them out.
[Dustin Bagby resides in Tampa, Fla., and blogs at www.dustball.blogspot.com. That’s all he does. Seriously.]