published at AND magazine
“Q: “So what kind of music do you listen to?”
A: “Oh, I’m not picky, anything really. Except for country!”
It’s a pretty standard question, and today’s standard response.
Country music has had a long and colorful history in the psyche of the American public. Starting off in the early part of the 20th century as “hillbilly music” – a term that was later abandoned as “denigrating” – country music has developed into a form that boasts the two highest-grossing solo artists ever – Elvis Presley, who took the world by storm and emerged as number one, and Garth Brooks, the heartthrob crooner who is currently the second highest-selling solo artist in the United States.
In its various avatars – country boogie, honky tonk, bluegrass, rockabilly, and country rock – country music has garnered a group of loyal fans, many of them country-lovers for generations. However, country music has long been considered a pariah in the musical genre fraternity. Maybe it’s the association with the Deep South and pickup trucks, or perhaps it’s the rustic, lonesome sound reminiscent of expansive prairies, far from any hint of civilization. Barring those few die-hard fans, country has never really gotten a strong foothold in music fandom. Burdened with a reputation as a musical form which true music aficionados shun, country music has struggled long and hard for a chance to be part of the nationwide – and even international – mainstream music scene. Success has been elusive.
So what’s it going to take for country music to speak to today’s music-loving youth?”
Read more here.