There's been a lot of discussion about country music in our class lately, whether its neo-country by the likes of Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney or old school country by people like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, or Willie Nelson. In my opinion, and this probably won't surprise anybody, I like the old stuff better, but this isn't unsupported. It's not purely opinion, there's definitely some basis behind this.
Once again we're talking about pop culture ruining a class of music that can be considered classic and many ways. Country music stars today are less like their folksy forefathers and more like the terrible hairbands of the 80s. These new country stars are so overproduced and willing to define their sound by want the public wants to hear rather than being true to their art. That's why you see a team-up like Tim McGraw and Nelly. Not that I'm saying collaborations of different styles are bad, but they need to be credible artists. I mean, Nelly's not even a good rapper, but he's popular and he sells, hence the collaboration. I comes down to dollars. Now if you had someone like Willie Nelson and Mos Def team up, I'd be extremely interested because I respect both artists a lot. The music they would create would be something incredibly new and original, unlike the pre packaged popular garbage that Tim McGraw and Nelly would produce. The Nelson/Mos team up would be for artistic purpuses rather than "Hey, let's put these two huge selling artists together and see how people respond." The names and images alone sell for these artists. It honestly wouldn't matter what the music sounds like. Country musicians should stop trying to make their way into the mainstream and build upon the sounds of old school country. Theres a reason people like Hank Williams, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard are so well respected. Many like the rustic twang of songs about their woman leaving them and taking everything, or going on road trips, or songs about a dad naming his son Sue. I want the kind of country singer that killed a man in a bar fight, or at least acts like he did(like Johnny Cash). Country music isn't supposed to be shiny and overproduced. It's gritty and its the great instrumentation and stories that make it legitamite and great. Listen to a song like "I'm so Lonesome I could die" by Hank Williams. That is truly original and it sounds like he recorded it in his basement. Was Hank Williams thinking about record sales and how he can make the most money, maybe, but there's musical merit to his songs. There's no question what today's country music stars are focused on.
Often times I come down hard on things that are considered popular, and that's not fair. I'm not one of these people who think everything in the mainstream is garbage. eventhough it comes of that way sometimes. It just so happens i write about this a lot because one area I am against the mainstream in is music. I don't have any tolerance for music without susbstance. Sure it's good to hear a fun song and music that makes you feel good, but songs that are legititmate can do this as well. It doesnt have to be crap , or maybe in today's society it does.