So who killed it? Ask the people who decide what they're gonna play on the radio. Ask the guys who decide what they're gonna promote. There are thousands of other country songs available. You'll find them to be real country music, but you've got to go in search of them. They aren't about to magically pour out of your speakers without your assistance. There is a real good reason for that.
Country Music Ain't Dead
Trust me it still exists beyond the mainstream. If one song about trucks goes big, it's like everyone follows suit. The problem? Maybe it's too small of a pool of writers. Like a record stuck in one groove. Maybe country stars should cast their net wider and do some heavy trolling through the vast independent country songwriters sea. There's plenty of them out here beyond that crowd in Nashville. Just because they haven't made it big doesn't mean they aren't talented, or that the songs they create are not worthy of being hits. Apparently tunnel vision is not just alive and well, but preferred.
Country Music Was Awful In 2013?
Grady Smith at Entertainment Weekly thinks so. Who is he? Is he country? Doesn't sound like it, because...
Trucks are definitely country, though a lot of city folks drive them. Hard to haul anything in a car or minivan that is bigger than a breadbox or messy. A country truck is usually dirty though, with a bed you'd think twice about laying down in. Notice that all the songs about trucks that came out of Nashville in 2013 and mentioned a model or brand was about Chevys? It was either Chevy or Silverado in the lyrics. No one crooned about Ford, Dodge, or Toyota trucks. Which is interesting, especially because you'll find more Toyota pickups running around the South than you will Chevys - unless they're old trucks. Makes you wonder if Chevrolet bought their way into them all. What better way to keep your brand on the minds and tongues of the masses?
There are more kinds of dirt roads than red dirt. Some are sandy. Some are clay of the brown variety. Most of them have gravel on 'em. Country is bigger than the Southeast. It stretches from sea to shining sea. Smith doesn't like all the country music songs about country roads. Hmm, like isn't country what it's all about? Still there are probably a lot more asphalt and stone seal roads in the country today than there are dirt roads. Makes it easier on the county road commission to take care of them. He thinks they should be singing about subdivision streets and city boulevards?
Sorry Grady - this ain't city music.
Girls in painted on jeans - that's another one of his beefs. But tight jeans are everywhere when the sun goes down. He thinks there were too many lyrics about what goes on in the country at night. Well, out past the city limits there are no street lights. If you're gonna see much at the river it will be moonlit or observed in the glare of your headlights. The bright beam from the grill of a truck is not romantic, it's harsh.Which is no way to charm a lady out of her pants... you think he'd realize this at his age.
You want real country music? Gravitate beyond your radio limits. Hunt down the rebels not promoted in Nashville. You'll find them there too, but they won't be pop crossovers. That tactic is a strategy to increase sales by broadening the market share. If anyone is killing country music - it's Nashville. They try to push every new song writer into a pop crossover. It doesn't always work though. Some of 'em got a mind of their own. Like Miranda Lambert. And who's walking away with all the awards? Sure ain't Taylor Swift... anymore. She ain't country. She's straddling both sides, instead of upholding the roots.
There's really no reason that modern country has to depart from it's roots. It can be contemporary without loosing site of where it came from. The country ain't dead, and people are returning to family agriculture. The paradigm shift is returning to our roots, not distancing ourselves from them further. Has everyone forgotten that fans drive country music?