Posted by: penpatience | October 1, 2014

COUNTRY MUSIC – IT AIN’T WHAT IT USED TO BE

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Read my latest non-fiction essay, “Throwing in the Trowel.” in the October/November 2014 issue of MaryJanesFarm Magazine; Available on some newsstands and http://www.maryjanesfarm.org.

 

Writers Words: “For me, writing is exploration; and most of the time, I’m surprised where the journey takes me.”   ~ Jack Dann

OCTOBER 2014 MONTHLY MUSING

COUNTRY MUSIC – IT AIN’T WHAT IT USED TO BE

I always loved country music. For many years when I drove back and forth to work, I tuned my car radio to the local country music station. When Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s “Islands in the Stream” duet came on during my commute, I cranked up the volume and sometimes sang along.

Country songs were filled with “lovin, dyin, whinin and cryin” and were both mournful and cheerful tunes that raised this commuter’s spirits along the route. Who could forget Patsy Cline and the girlfriend who stole her sweetheart from her in the “Tennessee Waltz?” Hank Williams, Jr. had a drinking “Family Tradition” and a bunch of “rowdy friends.” Barbara Mandrell, she was country before “Country wasn’t Cool.” Tammy Wynette lamented on her “D-I-V-O-R-C-E.” Willie Nelson, who wrote and sang many hit songs for years, advised “Mama don’t let your kids grow up to be cowboys.” Surely you all remember Charlie Pride (what a voice!), Merle Haggard, George Jones, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, The Dixie Chicks and one of my favorites: Lacy J. Dalton who was just a “Hillbilly Girl with the Blues.” And no one beats the beautiful, enduring voice of my favorite country singer of all time, Emmy Lou Harris, many times called the “Grandmother of Country Music.”

I don’t listen to country music much anymore and don’t enjoy over-amplified guitars and greasy-fried lyrics about “beer and trucks.” Today’s country songs too often are filled with monotonous, repetitive lyrics and incorporate more rock than country tales.

That said, I watched young Scotty McGreary win American Idol with his deep country voice and caught his show last summer at a country fair in Northeast Florida. He was terrific; sang some of his new country tunes, but won my heart when he said he liked “old country” songs, and sang “You are My Sunshine.”  Last Christmas I received Willie Nelson’s new CD where he sang duets with many female country and pop singers. Willie Nelson and Carrie Underwood sang a rendition of “Always on my Mind”—I thought it was beautifully done. However, when I first heard Kenny Chesney’s song about a girlfriend telling him “his trractor was sexy….” a tractor?? I can’t help laughing—someone should advise Kenny that no, his “tractor isn’t sexy.”

And these days when I’m traveling any distance, I often pull out an old CD with many of my favorite old-time country artists given to me many years ago by a good friend. I ride and hum along, relax and enjoy the music– wonder if any of today’s country singers no how to yodel………

 

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