What is “Country?” A Longwinded Rant

Photo: http://i142.photobucket.com/albums/r96/thisdayinmusic/keep-calm-and-listen-to-country-music-43.pngWhat is “country?” When listening to songs like “Take a Back Road” or “Boys Round Here”, people tend to get the impression that “country” means small town, trucks, and beer drinking. However, with global warming occurring as well as the increased urbanization of America, trucks and small towns will begin going away. No, small towns will never disappear, but they will become less isolated as the large cities expand. I sit here thinking about what that this means for the future of “country” and country music. Could it be that “country” is really more of a way of life? If so, what is that way of life? Having grown up in Houston, a big city with a huge sports and business culture, I never considered myself “country.” That said, I always envied the lives of people who grew up in small towns and always loved listening to country music. I think Easton Corbin sang about this concept when he sang “A Little More Country Than That.” He sang about being a little more country than “a dirt road full of pot holes with a creek bank and some cane poles.” Either this guy literally lives in the middle of nowhere, or he is talking about his culture. He also sang about not two-timing and playing games because he understands that there is more to “country” than farming and roping cattle.

When I think of “country”, I think of someone with Southern values. I think of someone who works hard for his or her family, but never compromises his or her core morals. I think of someone who, when the times get tough, will fight through the obstacles and will never waiver. In that regard, “country” people live everywhere, regardless of if they grew up in a trailer or drive a pickup. No, I’m not writing this post to make myself feel better or to include more people in the “country” tent. I’m doing this because I see country music moving in the wrong direction regarding lyrics. I grew up listening to country songs, partly because I love the sound, but also because of the for which they stand. When I turn on the radio and “Home Alone Tonight” comes on, I can’t help thinking how this could easily be a song that any pop artist could sing. Sure, many recent songs have featured small towns, but they seem to lack the values that made country music so special to me. I grew up listing to songs that, even if they were a little pop sounding, at least they differed in that I could identify with their messages. “If You’re Going Through Hell” is a favorite of mine to listen to when I experience failure. No, George Strait would have never sung it, but at least it has a message behind it that demonstrates the values my parents tried to instill in me.

I cannot explain why I felt the need to rant about the state of country music, but I hope it shed some light onto why I care so deeply when Sam Hunt’s songs reach the top of the charts. I don’t care about other people’s song preferences, but I do care about the future of the genre I love the most. I think its time we reevaluate what the word “country” means, because once we lose trucks, country music singers will have a hard time differentiating themselves from other musicians.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Country Pop, New Country

7 Responses to What is “Country?” A Longwinded Rant

  1. Erin McWilliams

    Great post. Love the title! I don’t think you’re alone in your belief that country music is losing its fervor. Many people would love to read this as a kind of catharsis, for sure. I don’t necessarily think that trucks are the main qualifier for a country song, but I get what you’re saying. Some would argue that pop country is most definitely a subgenre and part of country, but I agree with you that people like Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton are bringing shame to the name of country in a lot of ways (even though I’ll admit I can jam to Country Girl) haha.

  2. Mackenzi McAfee

    I love this post and think you brought up a really interesting and valid point about where country music is headed. That is something that I haven’t really thought about before but its very true! I agree with you that country is something that seems to be all about those stereotypes but it definitely is a way of life/culture as well. I have mixed emotions about the new country pop that is emerging, some is really really bad and some I enjoy listening too. I really enjoyed your post and you did an awesome job bringing up some very important topics about country music and its future.

  3. Adrian Ortiz

    Very interesting read. I can definitely see where you are coming from. Although I don’t quite know as much about country music as you do, I have gained some knowledge since I started taking this class. And one of the things that I’ve learned and that I keep hearing is that people are not very happy with what country music is about nowadays. Sure, a lot of the newer, pop country songs still have some of those themes that you mentioned, they still lack that special something that makes it actual country.

  4. Great article Kevin. I have never thought of analyzing country music in the way that you did here. I completely agree that country is not where your from, but how you live your life. People often get caught up in the image that they give off, and country artist feel the pressure to give off a stereotypical country lifestyle. When I think of country I think of hard working men and women that would give the shirt of their back to a friend. I hope must country music fans understand this and are not caught up in their image. I hope we still have small towns around like you said.

  5. Max Holter

    This was a really interesting idea for a blog post. I thought I was from a fairly big city, but then I moved to Austin, and I couldn’t even imagine living in Huston, that place is such a big city. I like how big of topics you bring up regarding small towns. It was a really unique take on the effects of global warming. I like that you covered a lot of possible arguments in this post, and I think a rant may have been the perfect thing to call this post because you got so many good thoughts out into a short post. I like that you included some personal facts and opinions, I could really see this being a conversation had on a lazy Sunday afternoon. This post was very unique and very interesting to read. Great Job.

  6. Julie Kleberg

    Really great post. I agree I see the county music genre starting to stray away from what it used to be. It used to be all about simple living, love stories, and things that were more meaningful and now it seems to be pick up songs, chewin tobacco, and other cheesy topics that just help stereotype the genre as a whole. I wish there was a way to get back to what it used to be because those are the artists and songs that I enjoy the most. If you think about it, the old style country songs are the ones you never get sick of, but the ones on the radio today get so old and annoying. We’ve got to get back to the heart of the genre! great post overall!

  7. Brittney Haynes

    I love this post. I really enjoy the way you describe what it means to be country. I agree with you that it’s so much than the stereotypes that the media portrays. It truly is a way of life, it’s about what you hold close when it comes to values and morals. The Easton Corbin song does a great job in explaining that. I with you when it comes to worrying about where country music is heading, we don’t need anymore nonsense that other genres are putting out there. Hopefully the next generation of country artists will get it, and but the heart and soul back into country music. If not, I’m glad I have the older songs on my playlist!

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