the G-man wrote:
the G-man wrote:
That's ironic. For a lot of fans of more traditional country, as well of "outlaw" or "alt" country, Garth Brooks is seen as being one of the main progenitors of the sad state of the genre since the 1990s.
Some of Brooks' songs are admittedly pleasant, but for my money, "good" country is guys like: Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams (I, II and III), Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard and, of more modern artists, Dwight Yoakam, Lyle Lovett, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle and James McMurtry (some of whom are admittedly country rock or alt country).
Well, I have never been a fan of traditional country music. I grew up in the era you describe as watered-down country...
And in ten or twenty years someone will be defending Taylor Swift to you with the same argument.
My main point is that every generation of music, including country music, thinks the new stuff tended to "ruin" the "real" stuff. Hence my mentioning it as irony.
There is also the inherent fact that rock music is ultimately a blend of country and blues created by a kid named Elvis (along with a few others). Since the rock genre is a hybrid, the line between rock and country (and rock and blues for that matter) is often blurred and will always be blurred.
I, personally, think Brooks and Swift tended to land more on the pop or rock side. That doesn't make them bad. It just makes them less "country" as a genre than stuff that harkens back to the old (sometimes pre-rock) days.
Also, it reminds me of an article I read recently (wish I could remember where), in which the author said that there is actual country being played on the radio. However, it's being put out, not by "country" artists, but by bands like Mumford and Sons
, the Head and the Heart
, the Lumineers
and other so-called "alternative" acts.
I enjoy bluegrass when mixed with country. I like what rap has done to the genre, not necessarily the synthetic beats (like with Swift) but the repetitive beats with organic instruments. Check out Sugarland's Love on the Inside album to hear some of it. It's like bluegrass, hoedown, and rock with R&B beats. It's amazing. It sounds like a whole feast for the ears. Love on the Inside
has a song "Take me as I am"
that is as rock as country gets. I would argue that The Incredible Machine
was a rock-anthem album, not purely country.
I miss the storytelling. It really has been lacking in the last 3-4 years. Unless I want to hear about Jesus Christ, there's not much in the way of telling a story anymore.
What do I mean? Listen to Sugarland's Already Gone on my list and 22 by Taylor Swift. One uses a chorus that works over two, three verses and changes meanings, where Swift is simply talking about being 22 to a general audience.
Some of the music I grew up on was pop country, Shania Twain, for instance, and it hasn't aged well. It sounds synthetic, her singing is not at all good, and I don't listen to much of it anymore. Brooks' music has aged well, whether you think he's country or not, I thought he was on the rock side as well. Too much of the music I grew up on was about wearing the belt buckle and the ten-gallon hat, going on stage with an accent, use a recording to play your song. It wasn't all good.
What has lasted, what I still listen includes Colin Raye, Clay Walker, Tim McGraw, John Michael Montgomery, George Strait, Dixie Chicks, Alabama, Blackhawk, Brooks and Dunn, and the aforementioned Garth Brooks. It's very heavy on the romantic love songs, but it also tells a story which Swift fails to do.
I don't think something that is old is necessarily better. I think country is a genre that mixes a lot of musical styles and is continuing to evolve.