Mar 262021

I’m going to keep this simple. Below, you’ll find a brief selection from the couple-hundred country music 45s I chose to rip after my west Texas storage shed discovery a few years ago. In order to foster healing, understanding, and general RTH good vibes, I’m asking Mod to listen to each of these trackssss, and explain to all of us why he thinks they suck. Here we go:

Sure, a lot of classic country music is pretty sad stuff. But when you can put over a lyric like this one without a whiff of pretense… man, I dunno. Freakin’ George Jones can make me goddamn cry.

I used to have a problem with the “same-ness” of much classic country. Over time, I grew to appreciate the genius of the songwriters who were able to work within that same-ness to produce music that still moved me. BUT: here’s a track produced and co-written by the great Billy Sherrill that expands the traditional country music form to include pop-ish elements like bridges, turnarounds, and so forth. If nothing else, you should appreciate the fact that your precious Elvis Costello is a huge Billy Sherrill fan.

Okay, so country music doesn’t feature too many sick bass and drum breaks. But holy shit, the stuff they give the guitar player! And the pedal steel guy, and the piano man. Anyhow, this Bob Wills track pretty much blew my guitar-pickin’ mind.

… and of course, the fact that our precious rock and roll descended so directly from country music’s demon seed ought to count for something — right?

Anyhow, those are four tracks pulled out of my west Texas haul that — just maybe — might convince you that country music is worth listening to. But if you’re still in the naysayers column, at least do us the courtesy of dissecting these trackssss so we all can better understand the source of your anti-country-music bias.

I look forward to your response.



  5 Responses to “Mod, Please Explain Your Hatred/Disdain/Fear of These Country Music Trackssss”

  1. BigSteve

    I love country music, and I dig all of these tracks, but Bob Wills in kind of a ringer. Western swing is jazz more than it’s country music, so there’s lots more showoffy playing. And it may not have a ‘cool bass break’ but the acoustic bass is doing somersaults underneath the entire song. Whoever that guy is, just wow.

    The thing about old school country is that it’s very single-minded — it’s all about the singer delivering the song. The instruments are only there to point towards the singer. And as this George Jones clip proves, sometimes, when the singer is supernaturally gifted, that’s enough. Instrumental frippery would distract and detract from what’s important.

  2. Before I even listen to these tracks – and I’ll have you know that I own that Tammy Wynette hits collection (she’s one of my favorite country artists, I guess) – if you paid attention to my post about Jimmie Dale Gilmore, my issues with country music have NOTHING to do with fear, hatred, or disdain. I know the greats of that genre are great. I can tell they know how to sing, play, write basic songs, etc. I simply find most of that music BORING or, even at its most appealing, something approaching rock ‘n roll, like, “Hey, you’re getting it, guys. Now, make it a rock ‘n roll record!”

  3. George Jones track: I appreciate this guy – I have for as long as I’ve ever made an effort to like country music. His voice is really good and the songs have a pleasing structure. Did you hear that drum and bass fill at 1:47? Neither did I.

    You know what I like best about Tammy Wynette? Her records are so close to being excellent ’50s/early ’60s rock ‘n roll songs, like something The Platters would have nailed! There’s nothing at all wrong with this particular song; in fact, it’s really nice. Even the arrangement gets exciting, like someone knew they were making a record, not just pressing RECORD on a tight band that keeps things simple. Beautiful song. Did I mention that I own this hits collection?

    The Rusty McDonald song sounds like Hoagy Carmichael with a country guitar picker and some second guy hamming it up in the background. I’d probably like this better if I saw the band doing all that picking live. Or if it was a Hoagy Carmichael recording. I like Hoagy Carmichael A LOT. You know what’s one of the things I like best about him? He plays that Olde Thyme-y music while resisting getting too hokey. He’s cool.

    I don’t think I’d ever heard of Johnny Horton before. This is a GREAT example of a country song that is so good it’s almost a rock ‘n roll song. Come on, guys, a little more of EPG’s patented ANIMALITY and you’d have a single that I’d fully dig. Good song and cool guitar parts.

    See, I don’t hate or fear any of this stuff. It’s nice. I like every one of these songs better than I like most doo-wop records and way better than just about any opera recordings I’ve ever heard. It’s nice stuff. But man, to my ears it is so formalized, so buttoned up that I start to squirm. And honestly, I am offended on behalf of all country music rhythm sections. They get the shaft. They must be incredible musicians to manage to get my toes-a-tappin’ playing those same-old rhythms, but I want to hear one of those cats be allowed to break a sweat now and then. I can’t handle all that restraint. Listening to country music is like watching people do a line dance at a wedding. I’m amazed that everyone can do the same thing at the same time, but a large part of me wants to run away.

    Thanks for trying, HVB. These are fine songs and fine artists! I just don’t see myself spinning any of these artists’ records, other than Tammy’s, twice in a day, as I did with Jimmie Dale Gilmore today.

  4. BigSteve

    Mr. Mod you may have heard of Johnny Horton only because he was famous for history-based novelty songs — The Battle of New Orleans, North to Alaska, and Sink the Bismarck. That kind of material has unfortunately overshadowed his straight ahead honkytonk, which was quite good.

  5. Just curious, did anyone ever turn around and say Hey Bob Wills, I’m trying sing a song here, can you cool it with the Ah-Hahs, Oohs, and That’s Right for a minute.

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