When people ask me the question, “What kind of music do you like?”, I have found it pretty difficult to answer. I want to say “Country”, but my fear is that they will confuse “my kind of country” with the version that Nashville is currently manufacturing. Then I think to myself, “How do I define ‘my kind of country?'”.
I started this blog, in part, to answer this question. Country is primarily influenced by roots music like bluegrass, folk, and blues. However, there is a lot of good country that is fused with Rock and Roll, as well as other influences from across the country, and the world. This is why I have chosen the name “Roots Revival”. I believe that there is currently a revival happening that is taking country (as well as other roots genres) back to the roots.
Currently, there are writers in Nashville putting their heart and soul into writing music for other people. These writers are taking jobs at bars, construction companies, and non-profit organizations, because being a writer simply does not pay the bills. The performer, on the other hand, can afford the most expensive pair of boots on music row. But country music has traded their Cowboy hat for a brand-name, flat-bill, ball cap, and their boots for a new pair of Yeezy’s every other day.
Now, I’m not saying that in order to be Country, you have to be a cowboy; But one of the most important aspects of Country music (since Hank Williams) has been authenticity. Singing someone else’s songs is one thing (think Willie Nelson singing Frank Sinatra), but using someone else’s songs as a means to an end is a whole different ball game. Don’t even get me started on how many of the songs sound like they are the EXACT same song.
I love what comedian Bo Burnham says about today’s Country music: “It’s pandering.”
To the teenage girls, it’s a tall handsome man dancing around on stage, singing about an ideal date night that if any average Joe tried to pull-off would be considered creepy as hell. For guys it’s the constant referencing beer, farm party’s, trucks, small towns, and much more stereotypical country themes.
If it’s not pandering then its posing. There a many artists who belong in a completely different genre, but they go on tour as a “country artist” and people buy it because of the attractiveness of the show, or artist[s]. Thanks a lot Garth Brooks.
What I’m seeking in music is the truth. I want to know I’m not alone in the world. Roger Miller’s “Where Have All the Average People Gone” is one of my favorites because of how it speaks to me personally. In this song he says “country folks all say I’m citified”. This is a big deal, because He is being honest that there are aspects of him as a person that people view as not country. While he begins with “The people in this city call me country, because of how I walk and talk and smile.”: He is revealing himself by showing the diversity of his character. This is authenticity at its finest.
I truly believe that the best definition of “Country” can be found in the lyrics of Tom T. Hall’s “Country Is”. In this song, he sings that, “Country is what you make it. Country is all in your mind.” Throughout the song, Hall brings up different ideas of what he believes country is. His point is that country is personal. I don’t agree with everything he says in the song, but I do agree that country is a fluid word. Country is “twin fiddles and a steel guitar”, but it’s so much more. Country is authentic expression of true emotion that is prevalent among hard working people everywhere. High class or low class. Black or white. Christian or Atheist. Country was meant for everyone. There is no mold. It’s raw, and reckless.
So to answer the question. I like whatever kind of music speaks to me. I don’t relate to factory made, hip-hop beat, stadium packing, bro country; and I know there are many others that agree. So here’s to the “Roots Revival”!