What Is Country Music? It Is A Changing Constant
You know, we thought once we graduated from college that we had graduated from ever having someone assign us “homework” again. I mean, a degree on the wall has privileges, right? And, we were in the clear…that is until we began blogging for The New 1037 <g>. The latest “assignment” is an interesting one whose responses from our colleagues have been good reads: simply…what is country?
Country is a constant, that is always changing. We know, you’re looking at that and saying, “WHA?!” Here’s what we mean. Unlike most musical genres, the subject matter at the core of country music remains the same: God, country, home, family, Mom, drinking, cheating, women, men, trucks, love, hunting, fishing, & dogs. Hank was singing about these in the 1950s and [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Brantley Gilbert[/lastfm] is still singing about them 60 years later. Which leads me to the other part of our definition of country-that is it is always changing.
This is the hardest pill for a lot of country fans to swallow. If we hear one criticism of what we do more than any other it is this, “How come you don’t play music by ________ any more? That new stuff you’re playing ain’t country.” Our eyes rolled back in our heads just writing this. Maybe it is because the subjects of country have never changed that this is so difficult for people to understand. Our favorite way to explain it is like this. Our sister station in town is Kiss 95.1, a very successful “Top 40″ radio station. When was the last time you heard [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Elvis Presley[/lastfm] or [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]The Beatles[/lastfm] on Kiss? That would be never…AND THEIR MUSIC INVENTED Top 40 radio. See, music is an organic thing. It is ever evolving, and ever changing-just as people and society are.
That is not to say that we don’t miss playing music by [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Randy Travis[/lastfm] (“Storms of Life” saved country in the 1980s), [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Clint Black[/lastfm] (“Killin’ Time” is STILL one of the greatest debut CDs EVER), [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Restless Heart[/lastfm] (no group HAS EVER been better than these guys), [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Earl Thomas Conley[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Rodney Crowell[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Shenandoah[/lastfm], old [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Reba McEntire[/lastfm], etc. We do. And that music will always be great to us.
BUT, you know we always talk about “living in the `is’ and the `what will be’.” We always look forward to where country music goes next, and who leads it. What’s going to be the next trend? If we’re betting, keep your eyes on people like [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Jason Aldean[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Eric Church[/lastfm], & Brantley Gilbert. Those guys are onto something. Go to one of their shows, see the connection with their fans, it’s electric and undeniable. And the music they play sounds different from [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]George Strait[/lastfm] or [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Garth Brooks[/lastfm] or [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Kenny Chesney[/lastfm] (3 guys who have, arguably, led the charge in the last 30 years). However, what are they singing about? Country, drinking, and the impact of home on life are the subjects of their latest singles. Sound familiar?
With country music…the more things change, the more they stay the same. Or, the more things stay the same, the more they change. What is country? Country is a constant, that is always changing. And as fans, we can’t wait to see what’s next.
Charlie and Debbie Nance have been married for 17 years and doing a radio show together for 16. They’ve been nominated for both the ACM and CMA Personality of the Year Awards several times and won CMA in 1998. For 11 years they were on the air as a morning show, but switched to afternoons when they came to Charlotte in March of 2006, where they have consistently been ranked at or near the top of the ratings since. They have a 10-year-old son, named Hogan; and a precocious dog, Frisky.