The genre of country music is, generally speaking, a path less travelled. It is a genre of music the regular Joe/Jill blow wouldn’t go out of their way to listen to. Many people view it as a genre of music that is difficult to get behind.
“Most young people don’t like to conform with society. In country towns like mine, country music is a big thing, but for every adult who likes country music, you’ll have 10 younger people who don’t,” Matthew Winter said when asked why he thought country was difficult to like.
As a country music fan and enthusiast, I can say that country music is probably the easiest genre of music to listen to because of its easy, uplifting sound and solidly-written lyrics.
The general stereotype of country music that is enforced in today’s culture is that of a toothless redneck strumming on a banjo on the front verandah of his outback residence singing about how fun it is to ride tractors, wear blue jeans and twirl around a lasso. This cringeworthy stereotype could not be further from the truth as the genre tackles a lot of different issues and angles other than horse riding and hat wearing.
Eric Gunderson and Stephen Barker Liles of Love and Theft (SOURCE: Taste of Country website)
Love and Theft, an American based country duo consisting of Eric Gunderson and Stephen Barker Liles, sing about a range of topics, none of which include “Yee-haw” or “Giddy up, cowgirl”. The song “Town Drunk” which can be heard on their self-titled album, is about the singer’s relationship with a girl “whose Daddy was the town drunk” and how both the singer and girl dealt with him. This song had even reportedly brought Stephen to tears when he first heard it.
Living in the city of Sydney, it’d be easier to find a purple tree sprouting pink leaves than it would be to find a dedicated country music fan in the ‘burbs, however I asked a friend of mine who is passionate about both metal and country (polar opposites on the music genre spectrum) why he loved country.
“Country music is more than just music. It’s a connection to life for many people out there, and not only does it relax the mind, but it puts a smile on your face, whether it be wanting to hang out with the guys and skull a couple of drinks, or just working hard in the backyard; country sets the mood for a hard working person who really does love life, family, friends, and country tradition. In many ways, I believe country music is the most influential genre out there today,’ Marcel Wehbe said.
I couldn’t have explained it better myself. Country music always sets the intended mood, whether that be happiness and a good time (‘Save Water, Drink Beer’ by Chris Young), sadness and grief (‘Over You’ by Miranda Lambert) or just plain country silliness (‘Honky Tonk Badonkadonk’ by Trace Adkins), country has no trouble eliciting any response from the listener and it does a damn good job of it as the listener can truly empathise with the mood being set by the music and lyrics.
I was born in a country town named Bathurst in New South Wales which is, unfortunately, not known for country music but for its car racing. Regardless, I asked one of my old Bathurst friends Heidi Luther what she liked about country music and what she thought set it apart from every other genre of music.
“I love that I can relate to a lot of country music. Whether it be love, heartbreak, loss, hard work, drinking, or being a proud woman.. I’ve been there! Nothing sets the dancer inside of us off, like a strong country beat! There is nothing quite like it in any other music,” she said.
While I am openly a “country head”, I am open to most genres of music and find myself listening to all kinds of songs, from old school RnB to alternative rock and even house. These popular contemporary songs can generally be found on the mainstream channels of music, if I may make a pay TV reference, while country has its own channel neatly tucked away in the form of the Country Music Channel. If I switch on one of the other generic channels, I could listen to a few songs in a row but then eventually one song will pop up that I’m not too fond of which will make me switch channels.
That isn’t the case with country music, or the CMC more specifically. I can leave that on and I am pretty much guaranteed that every song that will come on in a row, I will like and not have an issue listening to. Country is so dang easy to listen to; there is nothing too hardcore or too extreme about the genre that’ll turn off the more conservative and it’s not dull and bland to turn off the less conservative. If given a chance, country can appeal to most people out there because of its infectious nature.
The sad, unfortunate truth is just that, though: the general young adult will not give country the time of day because of the stereotypes enforced for the genre.
I’d like to think I’ve broken these stereotypes, put them back together just to break them again with a running bicycle kick by explaining the truth behind country music and why people should give it a chance. It’s really some great listening and the artists themselves are so damn loveable. I dare you to not like someone as down to earth as Lady Antebellum or as outrageously funny like Blake Shelton.
- by Noah La’ulu