Thursday, January 22, 2009

Soapbox: Country Music

I suppose it is because I'm at a stage where I meet lots of new people every week, but I tend to be carrying on small talk in very high quantities. Music always seems to come up in these small talk sessions because it is generally a safe subject. I have heard the phrase "I listen to everything but country music" dozens of times, and I have to say, it irritates me every time. (I've also heard "...everything but hip hop", but for the purpose of argument, I will focus only on country.)

First and foremost, this statement is always a lie. I'm sure these people are unlike Marie Osmond, in that they are not a little bit country (they also probably hate porcelain dolls, which is something I can fully support) but I doubt that they are listening to EVERYTHING. Everything would mean film scores, show tunes, Chinese opera, Carnatic music, Sidney Bechet, Olivier Messiaen, and well, everything else. I am not buying that someone who can branch outside of the solf├Ęge syllables all the way to Chinese opera cannot tolerate country music. So when these people are saying "I listen to everything but country" what I hear is, "I listen to pop and alternative rock."

Secondly, country music has been influenced by and has influenced every other kind of American music. I am not sure how people can write off an entire genre of music, especially one that gave the world Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Ryan Adams and Chris Gains (86 that last one). I am also not sure how people can write off the musical expression of an entire culture. So when these people are saying "I listen to everything but country" what I hear is, "I am closed-minded." Come on, dip a toe in!

(At this point, I'd like to give a shout out to country for employing some of the coolest instruments around - steel guitars, dobros or banjos anyone? Sure there's rarely a theremin on the track, but come on.
What's that? You don't think banjos are cool?

Seriously? Do have to make a case for steel guitars too?

If you don't like Dire Straits, Steve Martin or the Muppets, well I just don't know where to take this conversation.)

(And although I could write about this all night... but no one would read it) Lastly, I feel like it is such a negative way of communicating not only musical tastes, but an outlook on life. These people, probably subconsciously, are being defined by what they hate. I don't care what people listen to. If you feel like it, go buy all of the Creed or Kenny G cds you want, but next time, let's try to say "I chiefly listen to bad post-grunge bands" or "I dig pseudo jazz soprano saxophonists A LOT!"

By no means am I a country girl, but there is room in my life for all sorts of songs. I am not asking you to like, or listen to country, although there are some super great countrified songs out there, (Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Carrie Underwood, along with all of the old school singers - sans Conway Twitty who is more than a little creepy - like Dolly, Garth, Trisha, Merle, the list goes on and on) but if you are someone who says, "I listen to everything but..." please, consider that there is more than one way to mow the music lawn.

“Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it." -- Confucius


errin julkunen-pedersen said...

oh molly, let's not be so dismissive of chris gaines...

Britt said...

i would have kept reading had you kept writing all night. just saying. oh, and i totally agree with you. phrases like that have become so popular...people aren't willing to think about what they're actually saying. whatevs.

KaitlinE said...


whitney allison said...

hahaha, I love the Chris Gaines reference. You Molly are very silly!

deanna said...

I try to appreciate every genre. Is that better?

haylie said...

I love all things Muppets. All things. Even country music.