Life as it unfolds... by country music song writer Ben Krahne

Country Music Just Ain’t What It Used To Be

I'm no musician, but you might say that I was country before country was cool. Mostly via enforcement by the king of the roost who made me listen to it even before I was born. At least that was how I saw things before I reached an age where I could leave the nest and control the radio or television channels. Before that,  if the Grand Ole Opry was on the screen or on the air, that's what you'd be listening to or watching - like it or not. It wasn't an option where I lived. So you could easily say I cut my teeth on country music.

I remember when Mick Jagger walked onto the stage on the Ed Sullivan Show one Sunday night and instantly made quite an impression on my father... the undesirable kind. For weeks he was sharing his opinion with anyone who would listen that this hippie who went on national TV wearing blue eye shadow, oughta be put out of his misery. Many times it was a captive audience, but he was intent of forming young minds properly. (And they wonder why we needed 'a revolution' as the Beetles would say it.)

Those were the days before country was cool. When 4 hours of Saturday night's Grand Ole Opry on AM radio while trapped in the back seat on the way home from Gramma's house was an unpleasant experience. Naturally, I was one of those doggone rock and rollers. (This segment did not include Elvis Presley who never wore blue eye shadow or had hair like girls and Jesus.) Who wouldn't be after having been forced to listen to those country songs they had back then?

Okay, so they weren't all bad. Johnny Cash was always awesome, for one. We had Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline and some others whose names escape me at the moment. I don't think it was so much the lyrics as it was the way it sounded... something akin to a cow caught in the fence. It was what the sound of the songs played in between these people we still consider great country singers today that caused a whole generation of long haired hippie-types to run hell bent towards rock and roll.

Today, country music is for the most part contemporary, not just for rednecks or people living in the sticks and crosses many boundaries. Not long ago they called it, 'Crossover Country.' Now we have songs that are classed as Country Rock, Country Blues, Country Pop, Country Jazz and even songs that sound a lot like Country Rap. It's interesting when you think about it. Society today seems to have taken grandly to erasing old boundaries and classifications have become relaxed as one mixes with the other. Our listening pleasure is now homogenized.

What we don't have this blend happening with is Hard Rock. It is what it is. Likewise, those old fashioned, twangy guitar and whining style country songs could easily be classified as Hard Country. Both are only truly enjoyed by distinct groups of people, where today's contemporary country music has a voice and a sound that speaks volumes to the majority.

Guest Author

This post was contributed by Tammy from eBasix, who never wished to become a big Nashville star, though she has managed to wear out two guitars... so far.

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