I made a comment in my Randy Travis post about ‘real country music’. This started a few offline discussions that I thought I’d open up to the general population.
What I meant when I said ‘real country music’ is 98% of country music that was produced and released prior to Garth Brooks’ ‘No Fences’.
See, I blame ‘No Fences’ and in particular ‘Friends in Low Places’ for a major turning point in what we call country music. Prior to that album and that song, country was limited to roughly two stations per market, and that’s about it. There wasn’t a national appeal, and the singers really knew what they were talking about. They lived the lives they sang about. Think George Jones, Johnny Cash, George Strait, Hank Williams (Jr. and Sr.), David Allen Coe, Willie Nelson, Alabama, the Marshall Tucker Band, and Randy Travis. All incredible artists that knew their subject(s) well.
Fast forward to today. I don’t have a problem with country music that is produced today. It is good music. But I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that it is different. It’s focus is much more for mass appeal. The artists are talented musicians. But ask yourself, would you parallel their lives with the list above? Sure, there are exceptions, but generally speaking, it seems to be the case. Country music has followed NASCAR in terms of national popularity, and it’s very safe to say that it has changed quite a bit since the days of Earnhardt, Yarborough, Waltrip, Petty and Awesome Bill from Dawsonville. ‘Southern’ getting national appeal…don’t get me started on that.
Personally, I make a distinction between ‘real country’ and ‘pop country’. Am I wrong? What am I missing? Let’s hear it…