Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Modern country radio

Hank Williams, Jr. said in one of his more recent songs that everybody's got a butt and a point of view. I think Bocephus might agree with my point of view-when country radio won't play a living legend such as him, there is a problem. We are talking country music royalty here. His dad turned the country music world topsy-turvy with his proto-rockabilly flavored country in the late 40's and early 50's and Bocephus played the outlaw card pretty well infusing Southern Rock into his music and helping to fuel the outlaw movement. While I'm not the biggest fan of Hank III, he can sing country with the best of them when he's not busy doing some variation of punk rock. I guess country radio has no place for those who do genre-bending, either.

I don't wish to knock those who like the new stuff. I simply have an issue with someone who has to TELL me how country he is. When you have to fake a twang and talk about getting on the hood of your daddy's tractor or you have to beg a girl to "shake it for me," well, there's a problem. The thing is that anytime I've brought it up to friends (particularly female), there's no defense of the lack of talent, it's always about how "hot" the singer is or how they'd drink their bathwater (yes, really!).

When I was growing up in the 70's and 80's, it was nothing to hear a new song by an old artist. You had George Jones and Johnny Cash who had been around since the 50's and they were still charting well into the 1980's and were getting air time even when country radio was in its pop phase. You also got to hear "oldies" from time to time juxtaposed with the new stuff.

Country radio used to not be afraid to focus attention off the mainstream and play something different. I'm too young to have been around for The Bakersfield Sound but I do know when Countrypolitan/Nashville Sound was all the rage, Buck Owens was doing edgy, gritty, Telecaster driven music that got tons of exposure. Would that happen today? Probably not.

Something changed in the mid-1990's. All of a sudden the older artists were pushed off the radio dial. There's quite a bit of 90's country I like but absent from the dial were George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and many others who put out albums in that era. Johnny Cash's American recordings were considered some of his best work in years and even resulted in a Grammy for one of them but country radio wouldn't touch him. Even Neil Diamond put out a country album (Tennessee Moon) and even he couldn't get airplay.

I know my music isn't mainstream anymore and isn't everyone's cup of tea. I'm not here to bash new country fans. All I'm saying is to expand your horizons. Check out some non-mainstream artists like David Church, Hank III, Shooter Jennings or others. You might find you like it!

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