I grew up in a town called The Woodlands where listening to country music wasn’t exactly the norm, and most of those who did listen to country mainly listened to the more pop oriented and modern songs. My relationship with the town was different than most. Typically Woodlanders live in suburban neighborhoods with small backyards and with neighbors on the other side of the fence. I on the other hand live on the same thirty acre property in the woods that my dad grew up on, and over the years The Woodlands has grown around us.
The Woodlands is now a very different place than it was when I was young.
The population has more than doubled and as you can see in the photo the woods surrounding my property have become apartments and office buildings and construction sites – the times they are a-changin’. Country music has gone through lots of changes as well. The tried and tested steel guitar, bass, and drum kit has been replaced with a highly processed sound, sections of rap, and electronic beat makers.
While the feeling nostalgia for the “good ole’ days” is powerful, I also really like that there is now a Whole Foods just down the road and that there’s more than three restaurants by my house. The growth of the town around me might has meant change, which is scary, but not inherently bad. The country music I grew up with listening to in the truck with my dad sure was the best, and it hearkens back to better days, but the new wave of country music is not inherently bad either. New artists have the unique opportunity to be more relevant to the current times, as well as use popular techniques and practices from modern genres.
Merle Haggard’s song “Are the Good Times Really Over” speaks to the anxiety that, “the good times [are] over for good,” and spends most of the song remembering how things used to be. What sets this song apart and what really draws me to it is the final two verses that break the mold. Haggard goes on to sing, “The best of the free life is still yet to come\The good times ‘aint over for good.” This change at the end of the song, I think, is the best way to deal with change in general. It is important to remember where things came from but it doesn’t do well to dwell on the past. Country music may be changing, and as long as my old time favorites aren’t forgotten I think new potential favorites will be made, and who knows what great and unexpected things change may bring.