Friday, July 28, 2006

Everything I Love: Country Music

"Buddy never understood why I made my living as a country musician when I probably could have worked steady with hotel dance bands in New Orleans or tried the jazz scene on the West Coast, where I might have made it at least as a rhythm guitarist. But what he didn't understand and what most northerners don't, is that rural southern music is an attitude, a withdrawal into myths and an early agrarian dream about the promise of the new republic. " -The Lost Get-Back Boogie
George Strait sings that twin fiddles and steel guitar are the sound of the American heart. If you can't quite make it to Texas, Oklahoma, or Tennessee, then songs like West Texas Holiday or Red Dirt Road may take you pretty close. Country music is about what you know, brought to life with the perfect blend of words and instruments. It's that equity of lyrics and music that, for me, makes country music most meaningful. With "rap music", if you can keep up with it, you hear the words, but their obscure stories hardly resonate. With rock, the music is superb, but you can't always make out the words.

The Cash-mania of the last year has created "I-like-real-country" 20- and 30- somethings. These Johnny-come-lately posers would carve up country music into what they perceive as "legitimate" and "new country" based on a movie. Today's artists like Paisley, McGraw, Jackson, and Womack, are every bit the legitimate heirs to Haggard, Jones, Cash, and Lynn as those legends were to the legacies of Acuff, Wills, Wells, and Hank. Country music is a whole and, as long as there's a fiddle, steel, or banjo, it's real to me. If you've been blessed enough to find it, it's a way of life and a frame of mind.

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