Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Country Music, 1922-2008

Category: Rant

Farewell, country music. You were much too young to die.

Kid Rock is "country" now. That means there's something seriously wrong with either country music or my hearing. Is country music so desperate for fans -- or too weak-kneed to stand up for its integrity -- to call "All Summer Long" the same genre of music as "Your Cheatin' Heart?"

Poco, whom I have loved for 30 years but always considered a rock band with country flavor, would never get airplay today because they are TCFCR (Too Country For Country Radio). John Prine's masterpiece, "Paradise," would probably be labeled TBFBR (Too Bluegrass For Bluegrass Radio) by today's standards.

Yes, I put the members of Poco and Prine's birthdays in the calendar. But you know what? "Paradise" (and a number of other Prine songs, such as "Yes I Guess They Ought to Name a Drink After You" and his superb a capella reading of the Carter Family's "Diamonds in the Rough") doesn't sound the least bit out of place after a Carl Smith song. Try playing "All Summer Long" after "Let Ol' Mother Nature Have Her Way." No one could hear the songs played back-to-back and conclude they are from the same genre of music.

Why does country music have to be the catch-all phrase anymore? Why is it not sufficient to call Kid Rock's song "pop," or "rock," or "stealing from 'Sweet Home Alabama' and 'Werewolves of London'" instead of having to insult country music?

If he were here today, "Father of Country Music" Jimmie Rodgers would be demanding paternity tests on some of these people claiming to be his "children." Meanwhile,
John Prine may have given us a good litmus test: anyone who wants to be considered "country" has to sing "Diamonds in the Rough."

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