I think this is something that has always bothered me, but I can’t stand when people dismiss country music as being automatically bad. When I hear people say things like “I listen to everything except for country,” I have to hold back smacking them across the face. No one should take this personally and I’ll be fair and say that I know most people don’t realize what they’re saying and don’t mean anything by it, but take a moment and think about this.
You don’t listen to “everything” except for country. I guarantee that there are tons of other genres and sub-genres that you aren’t into. Should I be able to assume that you like grindcore or Afro-Cuban music or traditional music from India? I’m going to go with no. What you mean is that you listen to most radio friendly rock and pop music. Maybe a little bit of the hip-hop, R&B, and dance stuff that gets played in the bars and clubs that are frequented by the 20-somethings of this country.
That’s not really the point of this though, I want to talk specifically about country music being singled out as the one genre that people feel they must openly and explicitly exclude. Maybe I just have a soft spot in my heart for country music because I spent a lot my childhood with my grandparents and they exclusively listened to country music causing me to develop a bit of a taste for it. Or maybe I just naturally like a little twang in my tunes. Either way, hating on country music doesn’t make you seem hip or cool. All I hear is that you are predisposed to hating things that you don’t know much about or that you haven’t taken the time to realize just how much country music has done for you. Yes, the mainstream country scene, as a whole, blows. There are very few good artists–I do enjoy me some Dixie Chicks–in the mainstream, I’m not ever going to deny that. However, there is an amazing amount of great stuff out there if you look beyond the mainstream. Not all country music is about pickup trucks and sung by hillbillies and ignorant southerners with annoying accents. It’s not just Billy Ray Cyrus, Garth Brooks, and Dolly Parton.
There are lot of indie and not-so-indie bands that are basically country, country-rock, southern rock, or at least heavily country influenced. Even a lot of respected indie-rock, singer/songwriter, and folk music is very close to being nothing more than country music. Much of it is only not categorized as country because it originated from the indie-underground and not Nashville. There are good punk bands that combine elements of country and southern rock into their music. And let’s not leave out all of the overlap that can exist between country and folk, a genre which is rarely crapped on.
Hell, The Beatles, yes, the band that was extremely important either directly or indirectly to pretty much all rock based music to come since their existence, were into country music and very influenced by it. And they in turn went on to be very important to the country-rock scene. I’m not saying that because a great band liked something you should too, but I am going to say that if a band very few people are going to openly hate on had such strong country ties, maybe it’s time to ease up on the country hating and give it a fair shot.
I’m not asking anyone to embrace twang and throaty vocals in their music. All I’m asking is that people ease up on the hate and realize what they’re saying. Country music has been very influential to many, many bands and other types of music. I can guarantee that without country music, your own music collection would be vastly different. This is an extremely small list that I just pulled off the top of my head without even thinking about it, but here are just a few bands that are either country or one of its sub-genres, southern-rock, full of country elements and influence, or that straight up wouldn’t even exist without country music. They may not all sound like what you think of when you hear the term country music, but trust me, country music is pretty important to all of them
I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but that’s a pretty impressive list, don’t you think? Sure I sneaked a few bands on there that you probably haven’t heard of, but you should check them out! I may not like every artist on that list, but I can say that I love at least half of them and like at least half of what’s left after that. And the ones I don’t like are pretty big names and probably well liked by many of the same people that “listen to everything except country.”
Again, all I’m saying is ease up on the hate and realize what you’re saying. Country music has done a lot for you and you don’t need to listen to the mainstream stuff if that’s not your thing. You don’t even have to listen to or like any of it. You don’t have to say you like it. Just quit singling it out like it’s the plague.