If someone asked me if I like country music the answer would be Yes. However, I forced myself to listen to the local country radio station and I found myself wanting to scrape my face off. I don’t like the country music they play on the radio, or anything labeled pop country music, but how exactly do I explain which type of country music I actually like?
I asked Yahoo! to see if their users could help out. I suggested that I like these artists; Robert Earl Keen, Todd Snider, Townes Van Zandt, John Prine, Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle, etc. I received a response of ‘oldies’, ‘classics’, or ‘Americana’. The first two aren’t acceptable as I’d consider half of these artists contemporary. Americana may be close but invokes images of of native Americans and fields of gold. Is it folk-country, rock-country, outlaw-country, Austin Texas-country? Those all seem acceptable (for iTunes taxonimies), but I’m not sure they all fall into one of these categories. Maybe it’s just everything except pop-country that I like.
The country music I heard over the past 24 hours was heavily over-produced with instruments taking a back seat to the polished vocals. The lyrics weren’t interesting, or quirky, and seemed more applicable to the spring break crowd… he really likes this bar, she really likes This Kiss, he always starts the fights… it’s just not interesting.
John Prine sings about waking up and dying while distributing his body parts around. Keen sings about how strangers you meet would “just assume blow you away”, but in a way that makes you smile, not sleep with a revolver under your pillow.
I am not going to come to a conclusion other than I like what I like, and of course, that what I like is better than what you like.