New Old Country

Growing up, I was indeed a child of rock and roll, though I tried to keep how much so hidden from my mother. Much I could say, and I do ask for prayers for her soul, but let’s just say she was not a fan of rock and roll for all she did seem to enjoy the Beatles and others on the Ed Sullivan show. That said, she much more enjoyed other acts and encouraged me to do so as well.

Her preference, and to some extend Dad’s, was much more into classical/baroque music, musicals, and bluegrass/old-school country. By old-school country, I mean what you would hear at the Grand Old Opry back when it was in the Ryman auditorium. If you don’t know who Stringbean and Bill Monroe are, much less Flatt and Scruggs, you are missing something. Have to admit, glad I got to go there before the Opry left Ryman. Yes, Porter Wagoner was a regular watch in our house. When Hee Haw started, it was a regular watch as well, and they brought in a lot of the old school to share with modern audiences. Sort of interesting to think back and realize that Roy Clark and Buck Owens were considered in some ways as ‘the new kids’ (Stringbean and Grandpa Jones being old school) despite having been around a while. Also, have to confess to having quite a crush on Cathy Baker…

Bit of an aside, mom tried hard to get me into musicals and I did sort of enjoy them. Think she finally gave up when she found out my favorite line from a musical was “I knew I loved her when I saw the moonlight gleaming off, the barrels of her father’s shotgun.” Also, she may have caught some of the alternative lyrics I devised for some songs, which became a bit, er, risque, as I hit puberty.

The reason for the discussion is that two bits of music have caused quite a stir in certain circles. I’ve listened to both, and have a couple of thoughts to share.

First up, Jason Aldean has a slick piece up that shook up what I consider to be the right people. High production values, fancy video, and a message to go with it. For me, not racist (if you hear the dog whistle, you are the dog; and, if you hear dog whistles in everything, get help) or any of the other wrong-think attributed to it. A solid commercial country hit.

Second, we now have Oliver Anthony coming out of left field with an anthem that is taking the world by storm. Not as slick, not as polished, but from the heart. The sound, to me, is a mix of old-school country/bluegrass and just a bit of the new. I hear a lot of influence in both music and lyrics from the bluegrass world.

Of the two, I have to admit I’m going through everything I can find by Mr. Anthony on the web. I’m not going to get into analyzing all the lyrics, but the music is something I think has been missing. A synthesis of some of the best of the new country and bluegrass, with a heapin helping (sorry, couldn’t resist) of old-school sounds and even techniques. Also, if you go back, even messaging.

I will say this about his lyrics: they resonate. I think they are going to resonate with more people, and in a deeper way, than Mr. Aldean’s good song. The word choices, the inflections, the feelings are in many ways raw and compelling. He’s singing the way average people, working people, outside the bubbles talk and think. That’s why it hitting home for so many people across a range of demographics. It’s why so many in the authoritarian/totalitarian camp hate him, and will try any way they can to cancel him. Which is also why I expect a lot of corporate Nashville (which is Big Music these days) will ignore him. Which also just makes this both more funny and more likely to be another Babylon Bee prophecy.

For me, in many ways, I just want to sit back and enjoy the music. The lyrics are okay and hit home, but it’s the sound that makes it all work. Check out some of his other work, think it is worth the time. If you are into such things, tell me you don’t hear a bit of old-school Stringbean coming out in that. In fact, good odds I will not just listen to what he has out, but go back and listen to some of the old-school classics as well. Time well spent on both I think.

So, tell me. What do you think of the message, and who all do you hear reflected in his somewhat unique sound?

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.