I’m Scaring Myself

The TV was on when one of those Timelife commercials for a country music CD collection came on. N and I were about to switch it off because we don’t get country music but somehow ended up watching the 30-minute ad until the end because. . . we loved the music. We are staring at each other in confusion because all of a sudden we both dig stuff like “Okie from Muscogee.”

Midwest is messing with our heads something major. 


22 thoughts on “I’m Scaring Myself”

  1. You’ve got to admit that some country muisc songs have great titles that tell the whole story in a few words:

    “Don’t Come Home A-drinking with Loving on Your Mind”

    “What Made Milwaukee Famous Made a Loser Out of Me” (Schlitz Beer used to advertise itself as “the beer that made Milwaukee famous”.)

    “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed”

    “Did You Tell Her She Was Sleeping in the Bed You Made for Me?”

    “To Hell with the IRS”

    And , of course Charley Pride (about the only black singer to become a big country music star) had a hit called “I’m the Son of Hickory Holler’s Tramp.”


  2. Older country music, which was more in touch with various folk traditions, can be really good. I feel like country lost its way in the 80s and hasn’t been very good since.


    1. Me too. There’s only a few modern country singers I like, and even with them I feel like they’re not even the same genre as classic country.


  3. Every culture has music that tells stories. US country has origins in Blues, Irish, and folk music. Some of it is forgettable, some is excellent. Garth Brook’s “The Dance” became a jazz hit for Dave Koz, and there’s been a lot of cross-over between country and rock (Sheryl Crow, Shania Twain, Kid Rock). For that matter, look at the recent duets by Blake Shelton and his GF, Gwen Stefani. He’s country, she’s not, but she’s arranging and writing some of his music. And then there’s Willie Nelson . . . . and Kris Krisstoffers0n . . . and Gordon Lightfoot . . . .

    I suppose the bottom line is that if you like a piece of music, the label doesn’t matter. I have no problem professing my enjoyment of these artists, Yo Yo Ma and Placido Domingo in the same paragraph.


  4. I remember a lot of international students getting into country music (esp from Africa, the Middle East and Latin America). Not quite as common with others but not rare either

    Country lyrics are the most interesting popular music lyrics in English (the songs are built around the words rather than the rhythm or melody). At their best, they can create intense emotional reactions (not unlike the best punk or soul).

    It seems like most modern music has the emotions drained all out of it but classic country is all connecting emotionally with adults (as opposed to teenagers).


    1. If you think Merle Haggard’s 1969 song”Okie from Muskogee” expressed right-wing sentiments, try listening to his next record, “The Fighting Side of Me,” released a year later!


    2. I disagree that Okie from Muskogee is a simple right wing song, Haggard didn’t like the judgemental condescension that hippies showed everyone…. but who did?

      And he did write Irma Jackson about a doomed interracial romance..

      “I’d love to shout my feelin’s from a mountain high
      Tell the world I love her and I will till I die
      There’s no way the world will understand that love is colour blind
      That’s why Irma Jackson can’t be mine.”


      1. That song was against the peace movement, which was very respectable, and when those “support our troops” types are willing to stand up to the Republicans on the way they squeeze the VA, I will be willing to believe they have some kind of sincere solidarity with the working class.

        At the time, I was more interested in the new left, decolonization, anti-imperialism than in certain kinds of “lifestyle” experiments people had going on but I wouldn’t go so far as to say the hippies were narcissistic / childish, as many do and I see why they were trying out the things they did.

        I’m sorry you felt condescended to–I was a child and surely didn’t see everything, but the actual hippies I knew were sweet and hardly judgmental–it’s against the ethos. I do think a lot of people weren’t serious and were hangers-on, and you can tell because they became Wall Street bankers and things like that.


        1. I was a kid at the time in an area that overwhelmngly (if stupidly in retrospect) supported the Vietnam war… (it also voted for Wallace in 68 so there’s that too).
          Some local high school kids were trying very hard to be hippies but I had no contact with anything like real hippies (exotic beings like bigfoot or ufo aliens) until the early 1970s well after the peak of their cultural influence. As you remember, cultural trends moved much more slowly across the country back then.

          I’ve seen both explanations, that it was a sincere statement against the hippy movement and that it was a tongue in cheek song, whatever the truth (probably some of both – country music is a lot more ambiguous than almost anyone gives it credit for) it touched a major nerve with the public.


          1. Haggard explicitly supported the war & U.S. imperialism and militarism generally, as did your part of the country, and he said the song was about that. Much of the U.S. supports these things. Yes, lots of country music is tongue in cheek and that text can be read that way, but there was what Haggard said about it, and how the song was deployed by audiences; that was far less ambiguous.

            The hippies were, to me, the least interesting part of the movement and there were a lot of fake and flaky ones, too; more upsetting, re the draft, were all the exemptions to it. This was truly unfair.

            There was draft counseling in my high school, since lots of people who didn’t get into college were going to be mobilized after graduation, and a lot of people were involved in underground railways to Canada; my mother would hire some of them to do yard work for a day or two so they could have money as they traveled. There were also a lot of veterans. Now there is a lot of discussion about whether or not veterans were mistreated and the general myth is that they were — although I would say it was more by the V.A. and the economy; my memories correspond more to this. http://www.vvaw.org/veteran/article/?id=215


  5. Then there’s Jolene, historically very important (Dolly Parton) https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jolene_(canci%C3%B3n)

    But I think the really old things like Carter Family and Bill Monroe are where it’s at, and Emmylou Harris, and Bonnie Raitt (who seems country to me).

    There is of course Hank Williams. And I am trying to avoid folk and blues although it all bleeds into each other. Notice that a lot of Cajun music is basically country in French. Etc. You have a broad listening future ahead.


    1. “a lot of Cajun music is basically country in French”

      One of my favorite old timey country singers was Paul Brunelle from Quebec. I found the album shown in the video at a second hand record store, bought it on a whim and fell in love with it.

      Liked by 1 person

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