The Modern Country Music Family

What is country music? From each persons’ perspective it can mean many things. To me, it means songs with a purpose and a story with a hint of rural life and values thrown into each song to remind me of farm land, family, God, and patriotism. Lots of people associate the genre of country music with a particular artist and their style/interpretation of songs. If you hear Johnny Cash it is likely that you will think about his middle finger, stomping out the stage lights and maybe his devotion to his beloved June. You wouldn’t be wrong having that image stuck in your head. However, a different life journey might make you think of Kenny Chesney and beaches, beer, and bikinis. This too, wouldn’t be wrong. Most people that say, “I don’t like Country music” usually mean they don’t like Johnny Cash-style country music, or Florida Georgia Line-style country music. Most often, if you mention the polar opposite style of Country music they will add an addendum to their statement and say “but I love Garth Brooks” or “but I love Barbara Mandrell” or “but I love Luke Bryan”, because Country music in their mind is defined by that perception. If I said I don’t like Rock music because I don’t like Nirvana that wouldn’t be fair to the entire genre and it certainly wouldn’t be true because I love Metallica! So, despite my dislike of Nirvana I LOVE ROCK -N- ROLL!!

Country music has evolved over the years. Just like most family trees there are many new branches every year. Each one has a value and a purpose. Just like our cousin the Rock-N-Roll tree we should learn to accept and nurture all of our branches and leaves as they have over the years to make that genre strong and united, and able to weather the storm. Rock-N-Roll was born of the Blues with some Gospel thrown into the mix. Over the years Rock has developed branches like Grunge, Pop, Metal, and Disco. All of which is very different, but still extremely important for that genre to evolve and thrive. At this time in history, Country music is evolving to be something foreign to most country music lovers. I too am saddened to hear the change, but I love Country music and I love the people that make that music, past and present. I support my family tree and I will continue to nourish the ground it grows in. Each branch serves a purpose, and just like my own family, I might not like all of our family members, and I might not want them to succeed to change the family unit but I will stand beside them and fight to help those branches grow because it is what is good for the whole tree. If we stand together and support each other we will weather this storm. Saying that Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan are NOT country is not helping Country music. It is dividing us. They ARE Country, just not your mom and dad’s country. You are certainly welcome to say you don’t like it. I can understand and relate to you. I hate Outlaw country with every fiber in my being. If I never hear another Waylon, Willie, and Merle song till the rest of my life ends it will be too soon. I do respect their contributions though. I do think that their songs in the late 70′s opened a door that let George Strait walk through along with Alabama into the 80′s. If you love Garth Brooks, Clint Black, and Alan Jackson you might want to give a high-five to Alabama for helping pave the way for their music in the 90′s. Just like Rock-N-Roll will never sound like Bill Haley and Buddy Holly again, Country music will never sound like Porter Wagoner and Loretta Lynn again.

There will always be songs in every genre that make me cringe when I hear them played. I will not be blaming the entire genre for those songs being a thorn in my ears. Look at it this way, socially we have become aware that you can not dislike a person simply because they are gay, black, Jewish, or ugly. That would be wrong….right? We love all of those definitions of people as long as they are good human beings. So why are you picking on Country music because you think Bro-Country and the music they are releasing sucks? In the narcissistic, selfie posting world we live in you think because you don’t agree with their version of Country music that we give a rat’s ass? They are Country. You might not like it, but we don’t get to pick our family. Merle Haggard is part of my country music family, and as much as I despise Merle Haggard music, if you come into my house and bad mouth my family, I am going to punch you in the mouth. Don’t stand outside my door and taunt him either. I will come outside and stick my foot up your @$$!!! So the next time think you want to bad mouth my family, because you don’t like one of us, or you think you know us….Step Off!!

Country music is in need of genre definition and sub-categories, especially when it comes to charts and radio…Bluegrass, Red Dirt, Western Swing, Traditional Country, Hick-Hop, Bro-Country, Country-Pop, Country/Western, Country-Rap, and Contemporary Country. The Rock genre has long been defined on the radio and on the charts. You won’t see John Legend and Paramore competing very often….and Chris Young and Allison Krauss shouldn’t be competing with Florida Georgia Line and Carrie Underwood. It is all Country, but it is not the same and making everyone compete for the same space is just as ridiculous. We need to open our minds and accept, but we also need to voice our opinion for change in the industry instead of bickering amongst each other in our own family. To those of you in my family that are out there bad mouthing your own….Shame on yourselves!!! We are only as strong as our weakest member. If you truly love Country, whatever version that may be, then stop stabbing your brothers and sisters in the back. Present a united front on social media, television, radio, and print. Keep your opinions about individual artists and songs private. Too many people outside our family are waiting and watching….ready to pounce on us and make fun of, criticize, or cancel our shows for fear and lack of interest. Don’t be part of the problem. Make the entire genre strong, even the parts you don’t like and the whole tree will grow to have a healthy, long life. And who knows, maybe someday the way that Gospel and Blues begat Rock, and Rock begat Rap and Country, maybe Country will sire a different music that we can be proud to have been part of the birth of a whole new genre. Long live Country Music…ALL OF IT!

July 14th, 2014 by admin

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