I love country music. I hate country music. Both of those statements are correct. And it all started with a band that originated not far from my childhood hometown.
During my elementary school days, there was a contest among all the PTAs in the local school system to see which PTA could get the highest membership percentage. The prize? A new band, Alabama, would play at the school. They were a country band that had wanted to make it in the rock-and-roll world but couldn't. So they shifted gears and reinvented themselves as a country band.
[Editor's disclaimer: The author knows and likes Randy Owen.]
Over the years, country music began to feel and sound less like country music and more like rock. And it all started, or so I think, with Alabama. Take away the hats and boots and most country music today would fit in just fine in L.A.
Most. Not all.
Enter the progeny of some of the greats - Shooter (Waylon) and Hank III (Hank Jr. and Hank Sr.). Add a dash of established but shunned musicians - Loretta (with Jack). Serve it up with attitude - Dolly and the Chix. And you've got what country music should have sounded like if it had stayed true to its roots.
The most recent addition to our music library was Hank III's Straight to Hell. Besides the fact that he looks and sounds just like his granddaddy, and got more of the talent than his daddy did, he hit a nerve with his indictment of pop country in "Dick in Dixie".
Just a sampling:
So I'm here to put the d*ck in Dixie
And the c*nt back in country
'Cause the kind of country I hear nowadays
Is a bunch of f*ckin' sh*t to me
And they say that I'm ill-mannered
That I'm gonna self-destruct
But if you know what I'm thinkin'
You'll know that pop country really sucks
Perhaps there's a reason you don't hear Hank III or Shooter or Loretta or Dolly on the radio. As politicians are fond of saying about why they switch parties, "I didn't leave the party; the party left me." Maybe that's what happened to real country musicians. They didn't leave country music; country music left them.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to serve myself a heapin' helpin' of some Louvin Brothers, a little June Carter Cash, plenty of The Highwaymen, a dash of David Allan Coe, a sprinkling of Johnny Paycheck, and loads and loads of Johnny and Willie. My roots need some retouching.
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