Editorial: Country ain’t country no more

Published 2:35 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2023

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Watching the Country Music Association awards show reminded me of why I pretty much quit listening to what folks from Nashville call country music.

Country music ain’t country music no more.

I barely made it past the pitiful rendition of Charlie Daniel’s “Long Haired Country Boy.” Charlie Daniels sang real country music when he wrote that one. It was his right to change his original lyrics, but seeing others do the same is just wrong. It wasn’t a hit because he told a joke or had a cup of coffee.

What I find interesting is that country music artists are usually the first to criticize their own genre.

Take this one, called “Trashville,” from Hank Williams III (Yes, Bocephus’ son and the real Hank’s grandson.):

Well, I used to think that country

Was out of Nashville Tennessee

But all I see in Nashville,

Is a bunch of backstabbers takin’ you and me

They don’t care about the music ya see

Sticking with the Hank Williams theme, how about this one from Waylon Jennings, “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Away,” who along with his co-horts back in the day, turned Nashville upside down and iinside out.

Lord it’s the same old tune, fiddle and guitar

Where do we take it from here?

Rhinestone suits and new shiny cars

It’s been the same way for years

We need a change.

And this one from the great George Jones, whose shoes will never be filled.

Who’s gonna fill their shoes?

Who’s gonna stand that tall?

Who’s gonna play the Opry

And the Wabash Cannonball?

Who’s gonna give their heart and soul

To get to me and you?

Lord I wonder, who’s gonna fill their shoes?

As long as there are still folks in the Nashville music scene willing to step out of the box, country music has a chance.

After all, it ain’t that difficult.

Willie Nelson wrote: “Three chords and the truth. That’s what a country song is.”

Willie’s right. Country music should be made for the sake of country music, not decided on by someone counting the dollars. If the song is good, the money will come. Whether Nashville approves or not.

Just ask Willie.

– Mike Barnhardt