I am very much a rock and jazz fan and I must admit an aversion to most country western music. As a child, I was subjected to Jim Reeves and Charley Pride, as my Mother was a keen fan. I blame the fact that she was raised in Scotland. For some reason, it seems to be popular there. So, ever since childhood I have avoided country western music like the plague.
There are many objections surrounding the genre. The fashions for one. Fringed jackets, rhinestones and Stetsons are a little over the top. It doesn’t matter how you dress it up, it doesn’t make the song any better. That yodel type twang when the voice cracks with emotion makes me want to weep. Crying is a constant theme thru country western music. It’s not surprising when you consider the lyrics usually involve the death of a pet dog, the failure of the crops and cheating men / women. Where is the joy? Sitting thru a whole album of this is enough to make you drown yourself in a jug of hooch.
Feminism, I think, kind of passed this country western music by. Standing by your man is all very well but I’m more inclined towards sisters doing it for themselves. Anyway, what sort of man lets the crops fail and the dog die? Get out of there sister. As for a blanket on the ground, is he too mean to spring for a motel room?
There are exceptions to every rule and I do have a liking and respect for the late Johnny Cash, especially those recordings just before he died. Something about that gravel voice full of emotion and experience moves me. I like a lot of country rock too. I guess it’s the real twangy stuff I can’t stand. Dilute country western music with rock or blues and I’m singing along. The Byrds, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers were all excellent bands. I like Bob Dylan doing country western music too, but then, he is a genius.
One of my favorite singers is Leonard Cohen and he wrote a song in tribute to country western music star Hank Williams. Williams even died a rock star death, dying from booze aged twenty nine. I gave him a spin, wanting to like what my hero Leonard likes. I like some of the songs, he definitely had a certain quality that marks him out from the rest.
Fusion was all the rage at one time. Perhaps it’s time for a new sub genre, something to rekindle the spark of country western music. How about a crossover of sitar music and country? Reggae and country? Anything as long as it’s not Jim Reeves and country.