Is There Hope For County Music?

margoI hate most country music right now. That’s a bad thing because I work at a big county radio station that I love. I make my living on county music. But most of it just sucks right now and doesn’t work for anyone over thirty five cause we aren’t hot girls any more, most of us don’t wear Daisy Dukes and dance in the back of pickup trucks in corn fields. Most country music right now is horribly over produced, predictable, commercial oatmeal. I’m not sure how it got so far away from it’s original sincere story telling roots.

I’ve had a long life with country music. When I was five and  my mom was listening to Fiddler On The Roof in the living room I stayed locked in my room listening to How Highs the Water Mama? by Johnny Cash. In the eighties, when my friends finally got out of my car I’d take out the Talking Heads or Cheap Trick tape and listen to Waylon, Merle and John Prine.

But there’s hope!  For months my oldest son, Jack, has been telling me about this girl in Nashville. Margo Price. At first he just talked about how good she was. Then, when she got signed by a real record label he was really encouraged and I started paying attention.  When her first album, Midwest Farmers Daughter came out and I saw her on a news program I started telling the country DJs in the building about her. I stood behind them and forced them to watch videos and I said stuff like, “Look, she’s a real musician, and check out her band. It’s freaking awesome.”

Then Margo was interviewed on NPR and appeared on Saturday Night Live. For the first time I started to think there was a little hope for country music.  If you haven’t heard her she’s a lovely mashup of old school, traditional, twangy country with a brilliant modern twist. She’s honest and smart with a killer steel guitar player. And this womanl has actually lived, she’s suffered and sinned, loved and lost…. so she  has something to write about. This is so much better than the vacuous frat boy stuff we’re listening to now.

And today it happened. Tom Duke a legendary country music DJ, walked past and said, “Well, I noticed that girl charted today.”

Maybe the crappy country tide is turning. Maybe Margo was the necessary stone on the country music scale that will start the tipping.

Yaaaahhhh. Thank you Margo Price. You’ve given something to me that I loved and lost. And for the first time in five years I might start listening to our station again, and I’ll even listen to the music, not just the commercial breaks to make sure my clients are taken care of.

Here’s one of my favorites:

The Double Standard In Country Music

gun  Maybe there is a glass ceiling for girls. Maybe women don’t get paid what men are paid. Maybe sexism is alive and kicking in America.

But in the world of country music women get away with murder, literally. They get to say and do things that would get men  deep fried by Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz, in People Magazine and probably by a judge.

If Toby Keith released a song called, “I’m Gonna Make Her Pay” then sang about keying his girlfriend’s car, slitting her tires and smashing her headlights with a baseball bat…. Nashville would implode … Johnny Cash would come back from the dead to kick Toby’s ass, guitar strings across the South would suddenly snap. Law suits would be filed and his records would stop selling.

But that’s exactly what Carrie Underwood did in “Before He Cheats”.

” I dug my key into the side
of his pretty little souped up 4 wheel drive,
carved my name into his leather seats,
I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights,
slashed a hole in all 4 tires…
Maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats.”

The lead singer with Little Big Town pretends to be a Tornado when she sings

“Yeah, I’m gonna lift this house, spin it all around
Toss it in the air and put it in the ground
Make sure you’re never found”

Yeah, she’s gonna kill him and bury the body. Nice.

What would happen if Brad Paisley said he was going to murder his honey and make sure the corpse was well hidden? Girls can say anything, boys can’t. there’s a clear double standard. In the world of country music I can kill my husband with a kitchen knife and food processor then sing about it.  But he better not lay a hand on me. there’s only one place that’s acceptable for men…in the world of rap.

How about the troubled and always dangerous Miranda Lambert? In Gun Powder and Lead she sings,

” I’m goin’ home, gonna load my shotgun
Wait by the door and light a cigarette
He wants a fight, well now he’s got one
And he ain’t seen me crazy yet”

Miranda, you know smoking is no longer politically correct.  Shooting your husband is just fine but put that smoke down.

Weird thing, these are some of my very favorite country songs.

In the business and political arena women sometimes get a raw deal. But karma is a booger in the world of country music. We have women with bad intentions and fire arms.  So next time a man decides to screw over a woman, he better make sure she’s not a country music fan.


Rap Vs Country…Who Wins?

Last Sunday Andy Rooney said something like this, “writers rarely say anything new, we generally write the things you already know.” These observations about music fall under that category.

I recently realized something very obvious. Rap music, for the most part, focuses on money, drugs, parties and women. The goal of most rap is to get more money and sex and to brag about the expensive stuff they own. Over and over that’s what I hear. Rappers bragging and bragging and bragging about money, drugs and sex. They get more money so they can party more and get laid, then buy more jewlery, more cars, more big homes. Also rappers seem to get mad a lot, so many of the songs are infused with anger.

It’s a pretty simple formula that leaves me envious because I don’t have the stuff they have. I probably wouldn’t actually wear a diamond encrusted necklace shaped like  the Washington Monument but it would be nice to have the money to buy one.

Country music on the other hand spends a great deal of time glorifying the simple life, the dirt road, front porch, beat up pick up, blue jean reality where money is a rarety but there are always catfish in the pond. Country music makes me feel good about my life becasue  poor country people like me still enjoy their lives, their kids, their dogs, their girl friends and a six pack of beer. 

Rappers are mad at this country. Country music loves America. Rappers bounce from woman to woman to woman (every night), country music guys love their honey until her hair is gray and her teeth fall out. Rappers want more sports cars, country dudes want new tires for their old pick-up. Rappers sing about cognac, cocaine and pot. Country singers like long neck bottles of beer (except for Jamie Johnson).

Ok, here’s the weird part.  According to Forbes Magazine the top ten money makers in American music don’t include any country guys or rappers. Number 10 Dave Matthews(with his receding hairline), 9. Justin Bieber, 8. The Eagles (all gray headed or bald now), 7, Black Eyed Peas (they do not count as rap), 6 Paul McCartney, 5 Michael Buble (not old but he is loved by old ladies), 4. Lady GaGa (at least we got one girl on the list) 3. Elton John (I ould make another girl joke here, but I won’t) 2. Jon bon Jovi and the #1 money making act?  U2 pulled in a whopping 195 million last year.

So, who has the most money? Not country dudes or rappers, it’s the old white guys. Things never change, huh?