Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bizarre Things I Like #1

Country Music.
It's true. So often, when people are asked "what kind of music do you like?", they respond with "everything except rap and country!" ...  and you know what? I used to be the same.

Somewhere, at some point during the last three or four years however, something changed. I can't give you a solid date, or a point of epiphany. But somehow, I became a lover of both kinds; country AND western.

Know what? I lied. There probably was a catalyst. In around 2007 my obsessive personality finally moved on from Star Wars (it's true) to none other than the pre-fab four themselves, The Monkees. The TV show, the albums (from the third album onwards, they DID play their own instruments, so you can shut up thank you), the merchandise. I know for a fact that I'm still puzzled what exactly began my obsession with Davy, Micky, Mike and Peter but I do know that this bizarre love led me to banjoes and Dolly Parton and Ray Price. Exploring the careers of each Monkee after the hype died, I made a discovery. Firstly, that there's not much to find in the way of post-Monkee gold. Secondly, that the gold that there is to be found belongs to Michael Nesmith. After the death of the Monkees, Texas-born Mike released a great number of AMAZING country albums. I bought them, not knowing what to expect. Certainly, I did not expect my mind to be blown. I bought that string of albums because of my love of ol' wool-hat, and I loved them, in spite of my so called hatred of country.

The unlikely catalyst for my love of country.

To the non-believers, hear this. They're really fucking good albums. Michael Nesmith and the First National Band ... Michael Nesmith on his own, with Red Rhodes. They're REALLY good. So began my love of country.

I devoured everything I could. From Ray Price to Dillard and Clark. The Louvin Brothers, Patsy Cline, fucking Porter Wagoner, Dolly Parton. The Statler Brothers, Ralph Stanley, Keith Whitley, The Carter Family, Earl Scruggs. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, and a lad that since has been named The Charming Man, my iTunes library became thoroughly hillbilly.

Ray Price. Hero, y'all.
So why on earth do I love country music so much?

Is it the gaudy nudie suits? Is it the redneck comments that go with each of the youtube videos I watch?


Gram Parsons, badass.

  • Those harmonies are .... amazing. There's something about those country harmonies that just makes a part of me go to a happy place. I can't describe what exactly it is, but it's definitely true.
  • That accent is pretty great, y'all. 
  • You know what? I have a feeling that a large portion of the reason I love country, western, bluegrass, hillbilly shit so much is to do with the subject matter of a great deal of the songs. I'm not a particularly religious person, nor am I a citizen of the American South but I know that during times of woes and hardship, there's something really quite reassuring about listening to The Carter Family singing about keeping on the sunny side, or Ralph Stanley singing "Angel Band". Simple beliefs and earnest singing. 
  • By that same token, country music just seems to capture broken-hearted woes absolutely precisely. Nothing like a bit of Ray Price to help you nurse a battered heart and ego. 
  • I need to put a disclaimer here. I don't particularly like modern country music. To me, it's all about those old-timey sounds and harmonies. There's something about that old timey sound that is really ... I don't know. Comforting. As well as plain ol' entertaining and lovely to my ears. 
  • Also, I really, really like banjos.

Feast your ears on this:
Firstly, Johnny Cash, the Carter Family, Carl Perkins and the Statler Brothers performing "Keep on the Sunny Side"

Now, Ralph Stanley, Keith Whitley, and the Clinch Mountain Boys .... damn embed code disabled. I can't be bothered doing it the long way via the scenic route.

AAAAAAAND. Lastly. Ray Price, with "Heartaches by the Number"

It's hard going trying to find like-minded, country-loving twenty-somethings ... but goshdarnit, am I ever going to try.

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