I think it's funny (huh?, not haha) that people argue whether new country is actually real country. I'm laughing inside because when I wrote that, I instantly thought of the scene from The Blues Brothers..."Oh we got both kinds. We got country and western." I also just YouTubed that scene because it is hilarious. Internet is awesome. Anyway, if you don't know the scene (which would be incredibly sad for you), a blues band walks into a bar (not the start of a joke) and first bombs, then starts playing the stuff people want to hear and the crowd goes crazy and the band kicks ass.
I appreciate the dedication of the singer/songwriter who, in angst or exuberance, attempts to unload their emotional baggage through verse. I personally can't relate because I've never actually tried to write a song (yet). But, it seems to me that spilling your guts really isn't cathartic if no one is listening. So wouldn't it make sense to share your thoughts in ways people want to hear? Today's country artists like Taylor Swift and Luke Bryan are doing that. If you listen to what they are saying as much as how they're saying it, you'll hear connections to old school country. It's still about pretty girls, trucks, pretty girls in trucks, cheating and heartbreak, and drinking. Yep, same stuff as Hank and Patsy. Don't misunderstand. I'm NOT comparing them to Hank and Patsy. We have this need to compare generations of artists and athletes as if to say one is greater than the other. It's like comparing Tom Brady to Otto Graham. They're both pretty good but how can anyone say head to head, one is better? Virtually everything is different between them; the game, players, training, medicine, technology, crowds. There's such an incredible difference of what it took /takes to be great at the time and there's no way to say either would make it in the other's era.
I've been thinking about this conversation because my wife and I just finished our first trip to Nashville, the mecca for country music. I'm not revealing some hidden secret, but one of the best things about Nashville is there's something for everyone. On our first night to the city,
we walked down Broadway and hit a few of the more touristy bars (you can't hit 'em all, too many and you'll die if you drink at all of them - PSA). Clearly, people in Nashville don't know, or care, whether it's Saturday or Tuesday. It's about partying, drinking, eating and listening to live music...and there's a ton of live music. It must be part of the lease agreement - if you serve alcohol, you have live musicians. People moved/stumbled from Kid Rock's to the Honkey Tonk to Layla's and danced to songs from Queen to the Beatles to George Jones to Luke Bryant.
Getting back to my point...some of you read the last sentence and thought, "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong." Ahhh Luke. I've heard him described as "country lite" or "pop country"...but seldom "real country". Poor guy even had to write a song defending himself as a country boy. For me, artists like Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line were the reason I started listening to country music. I was always a classic rock guy. AC/DC is still one of my favorite bands of all time. It wasn't until I won tickets from a local radio station to see Eric Church (amazing show) that I even heard a current country song. Songs like Huntin, Fishin, Lovin and Cruise, exposed me to other country artists and made me a fan. And those of you that follow know country music is now a big part of my show. For the most part, we don't get to decide what we like. I wish I liked drinking water as much as a glass of bourbon whiskey. Not gonna change just because I want it to. Music is the same. Some people like country, others prefer western...I happen to think both kinds are pretty good.