“How Country Are You”
I understand that popular music moves in waves and every several years something new comes along and is the hot thing for the moment. It’s just the way things go.
We’ve had punk, disco, reggae, grunge, electronic, girl groups, boy bands and everything in between. I’m as OK with this as I am with the fact that Aerosmith was cutting edge in the 70’s but now are considered mainstream and old.
What really bothers me about the current influx of country music into popular music is how bastardized the genre has become. Unlike other trends, popular tastes didn’t simply shift to country and industry followed. Country switched to a more ‘poppy’ sound and is nearly unrecognizable. “Boys Round Here” by Blake Shelton contains a few decent slide licks but is not much different from any other pop song. Hunter Hayes could easily be Justin Beiber with a little banjo mixed in.
Don’t even get me started on Taylor Swift. Sure, her early stuff had some nice acoustics and heartbreak lyrics, but now she’s just as pop as Katy Perry or Lady Gaga.
The biggest problem I have is that there is no steel guitar. I love the steel guitar and now I never hear it. All I get on the radio is a bunch of AC/DC ripoff riffs and hillbillies singing about bonfires and drunken driving.
I suppose it’s good that the new country artist always have lyrics telling us how country they are. Were it not for this we’d have no way to discern them from any other pop artists.
I thought it would be fun to see how some of my favorite musicians rate on the scale of “How Country”
I’m a huge fan of the closest thing England has ever produced to a country musician and a few weeks ago I did a post on him and his songwriting partner called The Greatest Power Duo. People often forget Tumbleweed Connection was filled with songs about the old west, the Civil War and old soldiers. “Tiny Dancer” featured some very beautiful steel guitar. Yes, Elton John is more country than a pipe bomb at a gay pride rally.
One of my favorite steel guitar scenes comes in Ministry’s video for “Jesus Built My Hotrod” where Al Jourgenson is playing one. I’m not sure if that’s what’s really playing on the record but I still have to give Uncle Al some props. He may be the father of industrial-thrash but he’s more country than a Vietnam vet cooking meth in a mobile home.
I love the instrumental records of Rob Zombie guitarist John 5. On the song “Behind the Nut Love” he does some weird guitar licks trying to mimic the steel guitar on his custom Telecaster. His awesome instrumental renditions of “Sugar Foot Rag” and “Sweet Georgia Brown” convince me that John 5 is more country than a Norman Rockwell painting of a Klan meeting.
Let’s not forget the country-rock band Dr Hook and The Medicine Show. They were famous for their songs “Cover of the Rolling Stone” and “Sylvia’s Mother” written by Shel Silverstein who also wrote Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue.” Dr. Hook is more country
I love Social Distortions songs of heartbreak, sadness and hard times. I’m sure a lot of people would call this SoCal band ‘rockabilly’ or ‘punk.’ but I think Social D is more country than a dead hooker lying face down in the gutter.
There’s a plethora of musicians out there that have country leanings and play good, truthful music without trying to jump on the bandwagon of what’s popular. I enjoy Volbeat, Hank III and Alannah Myles; all of whom are more country than incest.
Kinda makes me wonder dear reader: How Country are you?
To hear the greatest steel guitar lick EVER check out this link: