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WTF – Country & Western Edition

Big city folk shouldn’t talk about stuff they don’t know nothin’ about.  From the Washington Post:

But the Atkins song and others of its ilk — from Jason Aldean’s “Hicktown” and Miranda Lambert’s “Famous in a Small Town” to Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried” and Josh Turner’s “Way Down South” — are narrowcasting to a specific community: the core country audience, whose roots aren’t exactly in America’s urban centers.

The symbolism and prideful sentiments of the songs are intended to create a sense of belonging among people with similar backgrounds and lifestyles, or at least people who romanticize life in the rural South. (It’s not a place; it’s a state of mind.) To some listeners, though, it might sound as if the artists are closing ranks.

“Some of these songs seem to fall into the ‘we’re from Real America, and you’re not’ camp,” says Peter Cooper, who covers country music for Nashville’s daily newspaper, the Tennessean. “Seems like being divisive while the industry around you crumbles is a poor decision.”

Divisive?  Are you kidding me?

Country & Western music is the oldest genre of music to originate in this nation.  It’s come a long way from it’s roots in the Appalachian Mountains and the rural deep South.  It’s not twangy 3-piece bands wearing sequined suits singing about cowboys anymore either.  Many rock and roll legends got their start playing C&W, including Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis.  Music legend Ray Charles covered  C&W classics in his hit albums Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music and Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music Vol. 2.

If you want to to understand how people in the red states think then don’t pay attention to the Washington Post, watch CMT or GAC.  You might be surprised to find that rednecks know more about big city life than city people know about the boondocks.

145 Responses

  1. I was looking for a topic besides NASCAR I was “qualified” to have an opinion about.

    • Hey! I just downloaded Life in a Northern Town before reading this post….good taste, M.

    • This is one of my absolute favorite songs from the ’80s. IIRC we were living in Duluth, Minnesota when it came out. It really reminds me of those cold, cold winters, coldness that made the air almost sharp and the stars the brightest I’ve ever seen. It’s strange to hear that song in such different cadences — but it is a beautiful version. Thanks!

  2. heart music..

  3. Us country folks have tv, ergo we know a lot about LA and NYC. I’ve seen so many NY cops shows I think I could ALMOST find my way around there. Unfortunately, the tv that depicts the rural lifestyle is almost always off the beam. For twenty solid years, every psycho sex killer on tv had a Southern accent, and the situation hasn’t improved much. Oh, and we sweat a lot, too. Every Southern sheriff completes complete with gross armpits and usually back sweat, too.

    Here’s a true story from the filming of Nell in our local area. They were shooting a scene at a store in a nearby town and the (art, I think) director arrived and demanded that the store owner change the sign outside the store so “tomato” was misspelled “tomatoe,” The owner protested, but she was told to either change the sign or she wouldn’t get paid.

    No wonder the locals get irked and a bust a few caps at the Feds every now and then. (Eric Rudolph is a whole other story, so I digress,)

    Personally, I like Pink Floyd over country, but to say it is pushing us apart is a far stretch indeed.

    • Lots of people from the south and west who go off to college in the north and east either lose their accents or learn to play “country dumb” (even though they breeze through Ivy League universities.)

      G-Dub may not be the sharpest knife in the utensil drawer but he went to prep school and Yale, not a one-room schoolhouse. He was never a “rancher” until he bought the spread in Crawford just before he began running for POTUS either.

      His dumb redneck act is just that, an act. (well, the redneck part anyway)

      • I don’t think George W. is dumb so much as brain-damaged. Apart from the coke and booze he did to himself, he has some of the signs of FAS.

      • G-Dub has degrees from both Harvard and Yale–one would have thought that that might have done something to tarnish the luster of an Ivy-league degree, but no such luck.

        In any case, when a big city journalist starts opining about the country music “ilk” I know it’s time to stop reading. And I say this as a proud New York City resident.

  4. Listen to John Denver music he painted pictures with words.
    Country and Western speaks to most Americans no matter where they live. If it did not there would not be so many radio stations playing the music. Record sales would not be so big.
    I was lucky enough to be a teenager during the 1950s when all kinds of music was popular, Country and Western still listen to Duane Eddy my favorite, Beginning of Rock An Roll which was spinoff of Country and Western, Big Band music, Blues.
    We had it all. By the way I lived in Philadelphia which is not a small town



  5. WaPo, NYT and all them big city newspapers think we’re just not sophisticated enough, gotta be rednecks, rightwingers, and lawdy, lack a lot of education. I’m from the northwest, live in the southwest, have lived in the midwest, and, damn, a lot of us like that hicky country music, even tho’ we went off to the big time university, grad. school,, or whatever. Can’t take the country out of us.
    In this internet/tv/twitter/blog age, gee whiz, people aren’t the rubes them WaPo and NYT people thing we are. Even tho’ we like this hicky country music.

    • As part of a college research project on Newt Gingrinch I learned that his former home district in Cobb County, GA has the highest percentage of college graduates in the nation.

    • I. Hate. Snobbism. Especially the NYTimes/WaPo kind. (Is that reverse snobbism?)

      • Me too. The irony is, the liberal elite have railed against the arrogance and paternalism of the right, and they are just as bad.

        “WE are the enlightened ones. Just let us make all the decisions, so you stupid rubes don’t interfere and mess everything up.”

  6. It has always amused me that people who think they are so smart are usually out done by people they underestimated.
    Steel Magnolias anyone?
    Off to work now. Have fun with this topic.



  7. Has the Washington Post just noticed that C&W groups sing about their roots? It’s their lives for gawd’s sake. Talk about living in another world. What else are they gonna sing about? (I’m trying to remember the line from that song…but before I could get to the station in my pickuuup truck, I got runned over by a damned ‘ole train)

    The Dixie Chicks were considered divisive too for a whole ‘nother reason. Seems freedom of speech didn’t include them. A whole lot of people (including the country music industry) owe them an apology. And money from lost revenue.

    • C&W artists sing about pretty much everything.

    • People like me bought Dixie Chicks for what they did and said. I didn’t even have them on my radar until that event. I bought everything they did since and always will.
      My daddy was a coal miner and he died at 36. From a coal mining town to here, where I am a professional in Napa Val;ley.
      When The One dissed the hard working folks from Pa, he dissed me a Northern Calif green .

    • David Allan Coe sings and it’s actually SHE got run over by a danged ol’ train. The she being, his momma.

      The verse is in response to his friend who wrote a western song and called it perfect. Coe responded that it wasn’t. There was no momma or drinking, or prison, or pick up trucks, or trains.

      The verse was added to make it the perfect country western.

      • The friend was the late, great Steve Goodman (“A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request”).

  8. I don’t know if the WP writer is that familiar with John Mellancamp. Most of his songs aren’t all that “dark.”

    But you can’t really blame the Washington Post for that quote from some Nashville journalist.

    • John did some kinda dark stuff way back in the late 80’s (was that really 20 years ago?) like Rain on the Scarecrow when Indiana farmers were losing their farms.

      • Yes, I know. But mostly he’s pretty upbeat. And his song about growing up in a small town is pretty nostalgic.

    • He might have to high-tail it out of Nashville when folks get wind of it.

  9. I grew up in several very small towns, BTW.

    • I grew up in a town of 300 in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, land of the northern rednecks.

      • “All Summer Long” by Kid Rock is set in Northern Michigan

        • Somehow I am not surprised. The only U.P. musicians I am really into are Conga Sa Menne (Finnish reggae!) and Tret Fure (wimminz-music stuff, but 30 years of playing the guitar has given her biceps WAY better than you-know-who).

  10. Darius Rucker (Hootie & the Blowfish) is a C&W star now.

  11. myiq2xu, I’m seeing a real divide growing between rural and urban areas. I’m not in the South, I’m about as far North as you can go, but it’s rural, lots of country music and not much love for the urban dwellers, many of whom come across as elitist, intellectuals, looking down on the rest of us. (Us bitter small towner’s clinging to guns and religion.) There’s some politics going on here, some lines being drawn in the sand.

  12. You find country music in the weirdest places.

    • There’s a whole lotta music that has country roots. Gospel, blues, rock

      • I dunno. I think it’s durned near impossible to trace the “roots” of American music. From the indigenous people to each and every group that immigrated here, our music is a mishmosh, artificially segregated nowadays to sell soap to particular demographics. The sixties were much more inclusive, fewer TV stations lead to music shows featuring a little bit of everybody. There’s always more crossover in the music making than people know, too. Blues, jazz, country, gospel, R&B, etc., it’s still rock and roll to me.
        I will agree that there’s a lot more country influence than most people are aware of, but there’s no “pure” musical genre in this country, imo.

    • BTW – Did you see Snoop Dogg at the last CMT awards?

      He was wearing a black leather duster and a black 10 gallon hat

  13. I think Country & Western Music is an oxymoron. If they ever wanted to torture me, I’d take the waterboarding over listening to any of it.

    • You probably listen to a lot of it without realizing it.

      They don’t always call it C&W

    • Tell ya what, d’kat. Since moving to Central TX, I’ve taken a serious liking to western swing, a whole new genre for me. A couple months ago, we got tickets to “A Ride With Bob [Wills]” up in Austin. The show was written by Ray Benson, whose group Asleep At The Wheel frequently plays New Orleans. This was one of the most infectiously enjoyable shows I’ve ever seen – it made me feel at home in TX for the very first time. I listen to all sorts of music all the time, everything from Sibelius and Gerald Finzi to “Chicago”, Smokey Robinson to The Chieftains, Leon Redbone, Dylan, Clapton, Tom Waits, Iris Dement… So give western swing a try – you might well like it! 🙂

    • I’m the opposite. I love twangy and I love how country western songs often tell a story.

  14. Going on a limb, I suspect there are more country music fans than members of the Arugala Army. And until we’re able to enact a law that says you’ve got to be able to distinguish Bucheron from Manchego before you can vote, trying to make people feel guilty just for existing doesn’t sound like the world’s greatest strategy.

  15. I like a lot of different music. I don’t like all of any one kind, but I like a little (or more) of most everything.

    • well, I actually like the old blue grass stuff (without the vocals, however) and completely acoustic. I finally got used to the Old johnny cash stuff and Patsy Kline, but it’s going to take me a a much longer time to get used to the bastardized rock stuff.

  16. Rednecks are funny too:

  17. And what the heck is the WP talking about when they say the industry is crumbling? Do they mean the music industry? It is having some problems to be sure. Or just CW? I’m not sure CW is having any issues the music industry as a whole is having. So what are they talking about anyway? Oh wait, it’s WP… never mind.

    • I always try to remember that these stories are from Pravda on the Potomac. Then they make perfect sense.

    • The music industry is having problems due to the economy and file-sharing.

      But the boom of the 90’s was due in large part to people switching over to CD which meant buying lots of old music for their personal libraries.

      But thanks to the internet the recording labels no longer control everything the way they used to either.

      • I disagree about the file sharing part. When file sharing was at its hight, music buying was also peeking. That is, file sharing is more like radio than a substitute for buying. People found music they liked, then bought it. But the music industry freaked and sued their customers into oblivion. If you see your customers as the enemy, they’ll eventually return the favor.

  18. Here’s a nice country and western song by Eric Clapton:

  19. Hey, My, you should be live blogging the white house correspondents dinner with the rest of the big name pundits.

    • After Karl Rove did that rap performance at one of them I’ve been afraid to watch, Stephen Colbert’s awesome performance notwithstanding.

  20. And while we’re doing music, this is not C&W, but it’s one of my favorite things in the universe:

  21. This is totally OT but great…I love in the comments where someone refers to the “presstitutes”


  22. Here’s a Cajun song like you never heard it before:

  23. This all comes back to the class issue. I was born poor in Brooklyn NY, moved to Washington DC for school and now live in Baltimore. The whole argument that ‘urban’ means ‘powerful sophisticate’ is silly. Powerful people, many of whom grew up in rural communities, run the world. The fact that they often move to urban areas to do so, does not make the urban people bad. I lived in Capitol Hill, with no right to vote for Congress, yet people blamed those “inside the Beltway” as the problem. The stupid and corrupt people that Americans send to Congress are the problem, not the people (many disenfranchised) living inside the Beltway.

  24. I’ll take a real mountain string band over country any day of any week of any year. Old time music is the real progenitor of both rock and modern pop country.

  25. Q: What happens if you play a C&W song backwards?

    A: You get your dog, your pick-up and your girlfriend back

  26. Sorry to be not on topic, but this is too fun to pass up:

    I love Susan Boyle. I love Susan Boyle. I love Susan Boyle.

    Susan Boyle prefers to wash her hair and be with Pebbles, than have dinner with Obama!!

    via hillbuzz

    Did I say that I love Susan Boyle??

    • I love Susan Boyle and would rather brush a cat than have dinner with Obama. or shave the cat for that matter

    • Good for her for not allowing FauxBama to co-opt the deeply appealing sincerity of her moment in the spotlight. Obama is completely shameless. Far as he’s concerned, Susan Boyle is just another hood ornament.

  27. DK complains about 30 seconds of twang? This is what I grew up on:

  28. How do you classify this:

    • I have always felt that Allison Krause has one of the loveliest voices in all the world… and Robert Plant has always been the Celtic-teutonic God of Rock-n-Roll

  29. Is this Rock & Roll or Country & Western?

  30. What about this Jessica Simpson cover of a Nancy Sinatra classic?:

    • BTW – anyone who thinks redneck women are submissive, unenlightened airheads has never met one.

      • Not a big Gretchen fan. Her low point was when she wrote a song about getting wasted and getting in a vehicle.

  31. I always liked this one… his voice is unique, and soulful I think

  32. I was mad for KD back in the 80’s!!!

  33. A great song…

  34. Can’t leave this one out either…

  35. My favorite “new” (i.e., not Patsy, Loretta, Hank, etc.) C&W:

    • Damn, that didn’t work. I was trying to embed Daryle Singletary singing “Too Much Fun.”

  36. These young Austrian guys from St. Anton am Arlberg used to come and visit us every summer, in the Gold Mining district I grew up in, and they used to make me sing country songs for them all of the time… sometimes I would try to switch words around on them, to “localize” the song, and they would all scream and yell and laugh when i did that. They knew ALL the words to every song.

  37. compelling artist…

  38. When this guy first got started they didn’t know what to make of a barefoot singer with a headband singing cowboy songs:

    • Best show ever: Willie Nelson at the Wiltern, 2004? Lucinda Williams opened. Fabulous.

  39. Nicole Kidman’s Australian baby daddy:

  40. Here’s a horribly sexist love song:

  41. Tell me how this song is “divisive”:

  42. Here is one I used to perform for my sister and our girlfriends, with a hairbrush mic…

    • Her father was Mexican-American and her boyfriend was the governor of California.

      • Jerry Brown was one of my first politician heroes… he eschewed the Governors mansion, for a humble abode in Sacramento… that made a big impression on me when I was a kid.

  43. I’d love to post “Asshole From El Paso” but don’t want to start a war….

  44. This is incredible old stuff, that defies the genres they draw from… (I feel like I am raiding my parents and aunts and uncles albums tonight…

    • I TOTALLY do not remember that song. But I DO remember that album cover from my stepfather’s collection!

  45. more Southern melange

  46. I think I would classify this as “meta-country”:

  47. Delaney and Bonnie…

    • Bonnie clocked Elvis Costello in a bar, back in the day, because he said Ray Charles was nothing but a blind ______ – Elvis C. was trying to compliment Ray… but he blew it big time, and she knocked his lights out. Boom. He was on the floor….

  48. What about his classic?:

    They called this one “Rock & Roll”:

  49. Ruh Roh… Willie and Waylon…

  50. I gotta raise ya one, MyIQ, on that Jimmy Buffett…

  51. Some young’ins”

    Age 17:

    Age 17:

    Ripe old age of 27 (she started at 13):

    • These girls are good! A lot of people tried to push me into the music biz when I was their age… and what little I saw, made me run, not walk, run, in the opposite direction. Back then, in the 80’s, they chewed up young flesh and spit it out and there being plenty more where that came from, it was no big deal…. girls would head to LA or Nashville, and within months, they were strung out has beens…

      I think it is a little healthier for young women now…. at least I hope it is.

  52. I’ll hang around as long as y’all will let me….

  53. And we cannot leave this lady out… I LOVE her so much. She knows country city both… she could teach those elitist fools a few things about who are the salt of the earth

  54. Too much rock? I loooove these guys:

    • Oops. This is what I meant to post:

      • These guys remind me of my old redneck boyfriend. He told people he was from Georgia because he was embarrassed that he was actually from Mississippi. Got to love LA.

        • Lower Alabama?

          • Ha ha. Lower Hollywood is more like it. I’m not knocking the guy — at least he had a J-O-B, AND he was the smartest guy I’ve ever met. It’s too bad that two fundamentally angry people = bad, bad match.

        • poor guy… I lived three years in Mississippi. A lot of friends get really shocked when I tell them I might retire to Mississippi… I have tried writing a few books about the South… it is the most complicated, compelling, and fascinating region of the U.S. And Mississippi is considered the most backwards of all the states in the deep south.

          • Nowhere in the US produces writers like the South though. Mississippi more than most. Something about the languid life maybe.

      • I seed ’em in concert with John Cougar Mellancamp

    • I always liked this girl… she comes from a harsh beginning. I hope she transcends it completely. I think she did a good job with this. It is her story she is telling with this song.

  55. Not youngins… THE LADIES

    Not the best audio… but it comes across just fine…

  56. My favorite Elton John song is from his foray into C & W – Tumbleweed Connection:

    Come Down in Time. Absolutely Beautiful

  57. I don’t do structured religion but I love music that puts me speaks to my soul and the essence of what I believe. Alot of country music does that for me.

    I can listen to Tim McGraw, Martina Mcbride,Garth Brooks, Mark Wills, Jimmy Wayne and Reba, Carrie Underwood all day long.

    Martina McBride- God’s Will


    Reba’s What do You Say


    Mark Wills Don’t Laugh at Me


    Jimmy Wayne’s Paper Angels

    This kind of music speaks to me.

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