Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Lonesome, 'onry and mean

Country music was once an American art form, populated by iconic (and I don't overuse that word) figures like John Cash, Waylon, Willie, Loretta, Tammy, et al. It's been a long time coming, but country's gone pussy, or, at the very least, it's become annoyingly irrelevant.

From the moment Garth Brooks latched a wire onto his fat ass and started swinging above his audiences, I knew country music was dead. Imagine Waylon pulling that kind of stunt (how would he hold onto his Jack Daniels)? Of course, Garth is a probably a Miller Lite man ... much like the rest of his choir boy contemporaries. Nothing but lite-weights.

It used to be that country music was for everyone, though now it seems tailored towards the Wal-Mart shopping, family values crowd. It took a while for a music snob like me to appreciate the richness of, say, a Billy Joe Shaver song, but once I did I was hooked for life.

These days you've got washboard-ab'd pretty boys like Kenny Chesney writing songs based on an especially treacly line from a Tom Cruise/Cameron Crowe movie. I don't know how long ago this abomination was released, but apparently "You Had Me at Hello" is one of the former Mr. Zellweger's biggest hits. Can you imagine Merle Haggard being inspired by a Rock Hudson/Doris Day movie?

May Kenny Boy be run over by a drunken Hank Williams Sr. in some afterlife.

While I'm aware there's some quality country out there (Beachwood Sparks ain't bad), it's only found in the margins, not in the mainstream where listeners once heard lyrics like:

"Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black"

Now, it's come to this:

"Oh, Justice will be served and the battle will rage.
This big dog will fight when you rattle his cage
You'll be sorry that you messed with the US of A
'Cuz we'll put a boot in your ass
It's the American way."

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