Monday, April 19, 2010


the most common question i get about music is, "what kind of music do you like?" i find this question ridiculous, and i usually reply something like "good music." most people usually chuckle, and ask further what that means. it is difficult for me to describe, but i usually say something like "well, i can listen to jay-z, johann sebastian bach, and led zepplin on any given day, and everything in between." my biggest qualifications for music are originality and quality. you can be the most original person, but if the music lacks quality, i don't like it, and vice versa. it isn't an exact science, and i have my likes that aren't very good too, but it is a pretty good general rule.
the second most common question is, "do you like country?" i also find this question somewhat ridiculous, mostly for two reasons. the first is, i am never asked if i like rock, or pop, or some other larger genre. the second reason is that they generally mean the type of country that is played on the radio. so i usually say something like "i don't like pop country much, but i like classic country." the reactions i get from that is usually a puzzled disagreement, because it seems most country fans don't like what they call "the twangy stuff".
this seems to be a dichotomous statement to me, because the only thing that tends to separate pop country from the rest of pop and rock is the use of a slide guitar, some mandolin or violin, and a southern accent. those are the parts that give classic country its twangy quality. i am confused as to the classifications of almost all popular genres, because it seems the line between britney spears and reba mcintyre is blurring, or gone all together. i am not just talking about collaborative efforts between artists of differing genres, but the actual styles portrayed by the genre stalwarts. pop acts like miley cyrus jump between the genres at will, depending on which music channel they want to appear on that month. others, like taylor swift, pretty much stay within the pop realm and simply claim country to some degree( i didn't know acoustic guitars were all that was needed to be country). i can say the same about country and rock, or even pop and rock.
the fact is, these genres were originally designed around simple song structure differences between what made up rock, blues, country, pop, soul, gospel, and the rest. i am not opposed to artists being multi disciplined between different styles, i am mostly opposed to their genre signatures being applied to anything they want to sell as one thing or the other. in my opinion, this sort of cross genre bending hasn't been an issue since the styles were first being defined. once upon a time, johnny cash and elvis weren't called country and rock stars. roy orbison could play on a bill with hank williams, and there was no real protocol. popular music was just beginning, and the only real genres were gospel, blues, jazz, and country within popular music. i think that the golden age of country ended with garth brooks(who i love). his popular brand of rock country changed the game forever.
i love classic country. i find that the story telling ability of the original songsters was unparalleled. the edgy style of stars like johnny cash was far more shocking than current shock mongers like eminem(listen to songs like delia's gone or folsom prison blues, and suddenly killing your wife seems old hat). the banner for that style has really been carried on through what is called alt-country these days. bands like band of annuals, the shins, and the avett brothers have more of the soul of country than big & rich to me.
and that is why i get confused by genres. /endrant

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